Tag Archive: quarries


From the maps

Take a non-descript bit of road, notable mainly for its curviness, and have a closer look. This is part of the road leading between Strathaven from East Kilbride.

It’s a sad fact that there are vast numbers of small farms in the local area that no longer exist. There are often clues lying around, from fallen masonry and ruins to less defined lumps and bumps, or straight lines of hedges indicating field or road lines.

Even in this very short stretch, three roads lead to lost farms: Rigmuir (top right), Craighouse (bottom middle) and Rig Farm (bottom left).

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The OS map also shows other signs of industry, now long vanished, including a Brick and Tile Works on the road leading to Quarry Farm and limekilns just past Craighouse Farm. There’s a quarry just outwith the frame of the map.

This main road (A726) was part of the turnpike road between Muirkirk and Glasgow. The tollhouse is just around the next corner heading south. The map indicates there’s a milestone, but that’s probably long gone.

And there’s a very peculiar road just at the top left, that appears to lead nowhere. On the ground, it definitely looks like a road, so what on Earth is it.

Any further information or ideas welcome.

A beautiful afternoon when I finally got to leave work tonight. I kind of wish that I’d left earlier to grab some opportunities for photography, but then I’m still sore from a fall down the school stairs yesterday, so perhaps not. But the hills were golden and hazy in the sunshine as I drove home, so I grabbed a couple of shots as the traffic stopped, including one of Dechmont Hill.

I first heard this name from my Dad, whose grandfather (Grampa Paterson) worked at Dechmont Colliery (among many, many other places). Dad later identified Dechmont Hill for me in the background of a photo taken at Bothwell Castle a couple of years ago.

It’s fascinated me ever since – even though I’ve not had a chance to climb it in person yet. It’s so clearly visible from miles around and stands proud of the landscape below: it must have been a pretty important place at one time. In fact, the CANMORE record reports a slight mound or cairn, surrounded by a shallow ditch; the remains of a hill fort, now almost impossible to see.

Part of its current pronounced shape is actually due to a old quarry, which has destroyed an entire flank (vandals!) but it must have been an obvious landmark in the past, before the current suburban sprawl hid it behind so much housing and roads.

Mind you, I shouldn’t complain. After I became aware of Dechmont, I started spotting it from all over the place, including the dual carriageway above Blantyre. Then, waiting in the traffic this winter, I realised just how clearly I could see Tinto Hill to the south.

So?

Well, I recently read an intriguing book called On the trail of Scotland’s myths and legends. Author, Stuart McHardy, spends a few pages discussing Scottish fire festivals, including Beltane, celebrated on May 1st.

In traditional Beltane celebrations, fires were lit on hilltops, which made them more visible… The dominating hill of Tinto in Lanarkshire was the site of the ancient fires, its earlier name Tintock deriving from Gaelic, teinteach, fiery.

McHardy, 2005, p41

I’ve been wondering ever since whether Dechmont was used for a similar purpose. Imagine my delight then, when I found a mention on The Modern Antiquarian website to an old book of 1885, called Old Scottish customs:local and general by E.J Guthrie.

Check it out:

Dechmont Hill, situated in the parish of Cambuslang, was a place where our forefathers lighted the Beltane. In the Statistical Account of Scotland (1848) it is stated that a thick stratum of charcoal was discovered underneath a structure of fine loam on the summit of the hill. When the country people saw it they expressed no surprise, as the tradition was familiar to them that it was here where the former inhabitants of the country had been in the habit of
lighting their Beltane.

Guthrie, 1885, p231

It could be just a story rather than oral history or folk memory, but it’s intriguing all the same.