Tag Archive: Covenanters

A day of burial grounds today. Dropped the kids off, and got lost in the labyrinth that is Chapelton. Anyone who knows Chapelton will think that’s ridiculous – it’s a toattie wee place. Well, the toattie wee place has signposts that lead nowhere. You lie, Chapelton signs, you lie.

Once we escaped, we aimed for Glassford to have a wander around the old kirkyard. It was a miserable looking day, completely grey, but the air was fresh, the birds were singing and the overhead cables were humming happily to themselves.

It’s a nice little kirkyard with a single wall of the church remaining. It’s also part of the Covenanter’s Trail, with a rather gaudy  monument dedicated to William Gordon of Earlston. He was apparently on his way to the Battle of Bothwell Bridge when he was captured and shot by dragoons on 22nd June 1879.

Just beyond the wall of the kirkyard is a track leading down the hill towards Braehead Farm. About halfway down, there’s a  line of trees that leads to the private burial ground of Avonholm. There’s three stones there which were once thought to be standing stones, but are now thought to be grave markers. There’s a street in Strathaven called Threestanes Road. I rememebr reading somewhere that it was supposedly part of an ancient road that lead to the standing stones, but on the map the road is pointing in totally the wrong direction. Nice idea, but I doubt it.

We left Avonholm for another day and headed back to Strathaven for lunch, watching the old railway line running alongside us the whole way, only interrupted by lost bridges and viaducts. A story for another day.

Great lunch at the Old Smiddy in Strathaven, then headed for Stonehouse kirkyard. On Manse Road we passed a   Scottish Rights of Way sign for the Horse Pool on the Avon Water, along with the legend that it was named after a drowned horse, or less romantically, the horseshoe shape. It was too wet to walk over to the pool but we did learn that it’s a great place to look for fossils.

At the top of the hill is Stonehouse old kirkyard: another ruined church, with belltower intact this time. I had an inkling that there was a Covenanter buried here too, but couldn’t see it, probably because I was trying to figure out the lie of the land, checking the view back across to Glassford, and taking pictures of the headstone carvings.

At home I checked up on the Covenanter connection and was disgusted that I’d missed the Bloodstone, marking the burial of James Thomson of Tanhill, who died of wounds gained at the Battle of Drumclog in 1679. The legend says that if you insert your finger in the mouth on the carved skull, it will be bloody when you pull it out. Why anyone would be insane enough to try this and risk horrendous nightmares is beyond me, but a number have, and discovered red ochre dust on their finger.

And then, hunting about online for further information, I was delighted to discover a Quaker burial ground on Geograph that I’d never known about.

So, two kirkyards, one burial ground, a couple of legends and a whole load of history: not a bad day.


Mary Rae’s well

After the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, wounded Covenanters escaped in whatever direction they could. The story goes that Mary Rae found her sweeheart, Robert Lambie, lying here at the well, and stayed with him until he died. I’ve also read suggestions that she brought him here to the well after finding him on the battlefield, and that she died here with him.

A photo of Mary Rae’s well was posted on Flickr, but all I knew was that it was in Bellshill. At that time, there wasn’t much information about it, so I gave up until coming home one night I noticed Mary Rae Road. It seemed obvious that it was here, but it still wasn’t easy to find. I eventually spotted it on Google aerial view: a concrete box stuck in the middle of a housing estate with no signpost, although there is an information plaque on the concrete.

Hunting around again today, I found a poster on the Talking Scot forum reporting that there was a natural spring here when he was a child.

I also found this entry in the Handbook of Hamilton, Bothwell, Blantyre and Uddingston,

MARY RAE’S WELL is an interesting memento of the battle of Bothwell Brigg. It is situated a little below the farm of Boggs, near the road from Bothwell to Bellshill, a little to the north of the railway. The tradition says that beside it are interred the remains of two lovers, Mary Rae and Robin Lammie. They dwelt on the banks of the Ayr, but Robin left his home to fight in the ranks of the Covenanters. Robin fell fighting bravely, but the spirit of his unburied corpse appeared to Mary in a dream, and besought Mary to get it Christian burial. Mary at once set off, searched for and found the mangled body. With an effort she bore it from the bloody field to the side of this sparkling well. There, with her own hands, she dug a grave, and buried her betrothed. There she built a bower for herself, and there she watched by day and slept by night. There she pined away until she withered into death, and was laid by the side of her brave lad. The well was covered in by Mrs Douglas of Douglas park in 1827, who, moreover, put its waters to some service, for they are conveyed underground in pipes to her house and offices in the low grounds.