John Guthrie Smith.

The parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history online

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which may still be seen in the neighbouring parish of East or New Kilpatrick.
Placed thus close to the civilizing influence of the Romans, the inhabitants of
Strathblane were probably Christian, and doubtless far in advance of the wild Picts,
their neighbours on the north and east, and the Scots, their neighbours on the
west — the former a Pagan race ; and it is no great stretch of imagination to
believe that compared with other parts of Alban, as Scotland was then called,
Strathclyde, including Strathblane, was, when the Romans finally departed about
the beginning of the fifth century, a land of comparative civilization and religion.
It soon, however, became the battlefield of races, for the Picts and Scots, and the
Saxons, who afterwards became their neighbours on the east and south, were all
anxious to displace the Cymry and settle themselves in Cumbria, and the brave old
warriors of Strathblane no doubt fought against these Pagans, shoulder to shoulder
with the other men of Strathclyde, and for centuries maintained their independence.

It was during this struggle for life and lands that the great Cymric hero Arthur
— " the faultless king " of the poets — first saw the light. Modern research has
proved clearly that there was an Arthur, but it has also proved that the -King
Arthur of the Middle Age romances, and of Tennyson and other poets, never
existed. The real Arthur's history is related by Gildas in the sixth century,
Nennius in the seventh, and sung in the same age by Merlin, die poet of Tweeds-
dale, and Llywarch Hen, and Taliesin, " the bright-browed," both poets of the
eastern part of the Leruiox — perhaps of Strathblane. Arthur was no doubt a


Cymric general or Guledig of Strathclyde, and his celebrated twelve battles were
fought in or near this district. Kay and Bedivere, Maban, Gerant, and others,
knights of the fabulous king, were also real Cymric warriors of Tweedsdale, Clydes-
dale, and the Lennox, fellow-soldiers or followers of the real x\rthur.i

Some of our hero's most important victories were gained near Loch Lomond, and
the mountain called " Ben x\rthur" (better known as the " Cobbler") at the head of
Loch Long, was doubtless so named by the victorious Cymric army in honour of
their great leader. It was when pursuing the flying Pagans, who, however, often
turned to renew the combat, that traces of Arthur were left in the Strathblane
district, and the great boulder stone on the hill a little above Craigbarnet, near
which are the remains of old forts and lines of defence, was probably called
" Clach Arthur," " Arthur's Stone," the name it still bears, to commemorate one
of his victories.

But besides Arthur there were other great leaders whose deeds in Strathblane
are celebrated by the old British poets already mentioned. There was Daronwy, who
fought, we are told, " between Dineiddyn and Dineiddwg," the former Edinburgh
and the latter Mugdock,^ and there was Gwallawg, too, of the kingly race of Coel
Hen, and his brother Cymric kings. Daronwy, it must be admitted, is a very
shadowy personage, and Taliesin's poem in his honour is all but incomprehensible,
though it apparently means that he was the hero of victories over the Gwyddel
Ffichti or Picts at several places, including a spot between Edinburgh and

Gwallawg, however, is a more substantial hero. He was king of one of the petty
states into which Cumbria was divided before it was erected into the Kingdom of
Strathclyde in the year 573 by Rydderch Hael — Roderick the Gracious— the friend
and patron of the blessed St. Mungo. Gwallawg, with his brother Cumbrian kings
Roderick, Urien and Morcant, have a local interest too, for it was they who
fought and defeated, about the year 570, Hussa, son of Ida, the Saxon king of
Bernicia or Northumberland, at " Arddunion," now Ardennan or Ardinning, in

1 See Arthurian Localities, J. S. Stuart Glennie ; I'hc Four Ancient Books of Wales and Celtic
Scotland, W. F. Skene ; and History and Poetry of the Scottish Border, Professor Veitch.

• Four Ancient Books of Wales, vol. i. p. 270, line 51. Mr. Skene in a note, vol. ii. p. 401,
.says " Dineidyn is Edinburgh, Dineidwc probably another name for Magedawc or Mugdock." His
reason for saying so is this — Mugilock appears in two forms, Mocetauc or Magedawc, and Maesy-
dawc, and as inai^h is a held or plain in Gaelic, and )naes the same in Welsh or Cymric, there seems
to be little doubt as to the meaning of the first syllable. The word probably means the plain or field
of Edawc. Diji is the Cymric form of Dtin — a fort, Dineiddwg means therefore the Fort of Eiddwg
or Edawc, who may have been a Cymric chief, with his castle Dineiddwg or Dinedawc standing in a
commanding position on his estate Maeseiddwg or Maesedawc.

* " Contra ilium (Hussa, son of Ida, who reigned 567 to 574) quatuor reges Urbgen et Riderch
hen (Hael?) ct Guallauc ct Morcant dimicaverunt "- -Chronicles of the Scots and Picts, pp. xci. and
12 ; " .\ Battle in Arddunion," Book of Taliesin, xi. See also The Four Ancient Books of Wales,
vol. i. pp. 249, 337, etc., vol. ii p. 402, and Celtic Scotland, W. F. Skene, vol. i. p. 156.


One can picture with little difficulty the great army of invading Saxons moving
westward by Kilsyth and Campsie, and gaining confidence as they advanced unop-
posed into the heart of Cumbria, and one can picture, too, the Cymric kings and
their army awaiting the advancing enemy on their chosen battlefield, with part of
their forces in the valley to the west of Dunglass and their main body stationed on
the high plateau around and to the west of Muirhouse. The name of the rock at
the north-west corner of Loch Ardinning, Catcraig, i.e. Cadcraig, the " Battle Rock,"
tells plainly that a fierce struggle took place there; and in 1861, a {q.\v hundred
yards to the east of the Manse, in a cutting for the new railway down the
strath, an interesting discovery was made of an immense deposit of human and
horse bones, showing very clearly that there, on the side of the Blane, the final
stand was made and the battle ended with great slaughter. Probably the
standing stone in Strathblane Churchyard and the other great stone near
Broadgate Farm mark the resting-places of Cymric heroes who did their share
of the battle on the north side of the valley.^

Gwallawg is a very favourite hero of Taliesin, who in his enthusiasm ends one
of his fine poems thus —

" He sees not a hero who saw not Gwallawg."

Urien also, otherwise Urbgen — the City Born — the king of Mureiff, who headed
his Strathblane subjects at the battle of Arddunion, was from his bravery and pure
Cymric birth equally beloved by the bards of the district. The memory of his
deeds, therefore, and that of his son Owain have not been lost, and from the poems
of Taliesin and other sources we learn that between 580 and 587 - they fought and
defeated at a spot in the Lennox called the Wood of Leven,^ Theodoric, the Flame
Bearer, King of Northumberland, and brother of Hussa, who was vanquished at
Ardinning, and no doubt the men of Strathblane were again with their king and
shared his triumph.

Taliesin sings of the father thus —

"And because of the affair of Argoed Llwyfain
There was many a corpse ;
The ravens were red from the waning of men.

And until I fail in old age,
In the sore necessity of death,
May I not be smiling.
If I praise not Urien."

^ Towards the enil of last century a mound was levelled at Broadgate near this spot, and many
stone coffins, each containing an urn full of earth and burnt bones, were found — Ure's Rutkerglen,
p. 223. This is confirmed by local tradition.

^ Celtic Scotland, W. F. Skene, vol. i. p. 159, and Chronicles of the Scots and Ficts, p. 12.

^ " Gweith Argoet Llwyfein," i.e. " The Battle of Leven Wood."


And of the son, who was killed in the battle, he says—

" The soul of Owain, son of Urien. May the Lord consider its need.

The Chief of Reged, the heavy sward conceals him. His knowledge was not shallow ;

A low cell contains the renowned protector of bards, the wings of dawn were the flowing of
his lances.

For there will not be found a match for the chief of the glittering West.

The reaper of the tenacious foes. The offspring of his father and grandfather.

When Flamdwyn killed Owain, there was not one greater than he sleeping." ^
For nearly two centuries after the battles of Ardinning and the Wood of Leven
nothing specially local can be gleaned from the misty records of those early times,
but in the year 750 another rift in the clouds opens and displays a second great
battle being fought in the parish of Strathblane.

This was the important battle of Maesydawc or Mugdock, where Teudwr, King
of Strathclyde, defeated and slew Talargan, King of the Picts, and thereby pro-
longed for several generations the Cymric Kingdom of Strathclyde.-

The field of this battle can be traced with but little difficulty. The Cymric
army was posted on the high ground on Craigallian — then part of Mugdock — above
and to the east and west of the Pillar Craig, with outposts stationed on the lower
plateau to the north, and there awaited the Picts, who came up Strathblane valley
through Killearn from the north on their way to the interior of Cumbria. Near the
top of the Cult Brae, in a line with the Pillar Craig, there is a rock still called Cat-
craig, i.e.^ Cadcraig, meaning the " Battle Rock," and in their efforts to dislodge
the Cymric army, whom they could not leave in their rear to fall upon them when
they had passed, the Picts doubtless had penetrated thus far and here the battle
began. It was continued all over Blair or Blairs Hill, i.e.^ the " Hill of Battle" — the
rising ground on Carbeth Guthrie which commands the valley of the Blane — and
Allereoch or Alreoch, i.e., the " King's Rock," was certainly so named from being
the place where King Talargan fell when the defeated Picts were being driven back
to the north-west. The standing stones to the south-east of Dungoyach probably
mark the burial place of Cymric or Pictish warriors who fell in the bloody battle
of Mugdock.^

' Book of Taliesin xxxv. and xliv. Four Ancient Books of Wales, vol. i. p. 366. Ballewan,
the house of Owain or Ewen, may lake its name from being the residence in Strathblane of
this ancient hero.

2 " Bellum inter Pictos et Biittones, id est gueith Mocetauc, et rex eorum Talargan a
Brittonibus occiditur" An. "j t^o — Histofia Brittomitn. "In this year (750) was the fighting
between the l^ritons and the Picts which was called Gweith Mecgetawc (or Maesydawc) and
in it was slain Talargan, King of the Picts " 7 he Welsh Bruts, 750. "Bellum Catohic inter
Pictones et Brittones in quo cecidit Talorgan Mac Fergussa frater Oengusa — {Annals of Ulster) ;
Chronulcs of the Picts and Scots, pp. 15, 124, 358; Celtic Scotland, W. F. Skene, vol. i. p. 295;
see also The Four Ancient Books of Wales, vol. i. pp. 104, 180.

' Major Graham Stirling of Craigbarnet has in his possession a fine stone battle-axe picked
up on Blairs Hill, and Mr. John Coubrough of Blanefield has a fragment of a sword found on
the same place.


Not only these great battles, but such places in the parish as Carglass, the " Grey
Fort," Garchell (the modern Garvel) = Caer-choill, the "Wood Fort," names that
speak of war; the finding of stone and bronze weapons,^ and the discovery of
human bones at various points in the parish, particularly around the old Cymric
keep of Dineiddwg, now Mugdock, testify that Strathblane in early times was the
frequent battlefield of the rival races of old Alban.-

But the brave old Cymry who had fought so well and so long for their
kingdom of Strathclyde were not destined to be the ruling race in Scotland.
About the year 900 Donald., the last of the Cymric or Brython kings, died, and
Donald, a brother of Constantine King of the Scots, was his successor. He did
not, however, succeed to a pure Cymric throne, for the Picts and Saxons from
the north and south-east, as well as Scots, were by this time largely intermingled
with the native race. Many of the Cymry, especially those of the princely rank,
had migrated to Wales^ and Cornwall, which were inhabited by kindred races,
and had taken with them the traditions of their great Guledig Arthur and his com-
panions and successors.* In 945, Edmund King of Wessex was in possession
of Cumbria, and gave it up to Malcolm King of the Scots on condition that he
should be "his co-operator both on sea and on land, "^ and though there seems
to have continued a line of Strathclyde kings for some time longer, they were
certainly subservient to the King of the Scots.*' The last of them, Eugenius or
Owen, was probably slain at the Battle of Carham in loiS, and Strathclyde was
finally merged into Scotia or Scotland in 1034 when Duncan succeeded his
grandfather Malcolm, son of Kenneth, as King of the united Scottish, Pictish, and
Cymric thrones.


Reged or Mureifif, as already shown, was an early name of the district of Strath-
clyde beyond the wall of Antoninus, but it was also known as the Levenach or
Leamhainach, a name derived from the Leven, the principal stream of the
future earldom, and which was so called from flowing through a dense forest of
the Leamhan or Elm Tree.

^ A very fine stone battle-axe was lately dug up at Craigallian, and a bronze weapon was
turned up near Mugdock Castle in 1882, when a piece of waste land was being reclaimed by
the author.

^ The remark of the old stone-breaker at Bouden Hill to Mr. Stuart Glennie, when on his tour
through Arthurian localities in Scotland, applies equally well to Strathblane — " I'm thinkin' that in
thae days — aye, it'll be mair nor a thoosan' years ago, — there were here awa jist vawrious wild
tribes a' fechtin' thro' ither." — Arthurian Localities, p. 51.

^ Scotland under Her Early Kings, Robertson, vol. i. pp. 54, 55.

* There to be transplanted to new localities and to furnish themes for the Middle Age Cymric
poets of Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany.

^ Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. i. p. 362. ^ Skene's Celtic Scotland, vol. i. pp. 382, 392,



The inhabitants were known as the Leamhnaigh, and this name they retained
till at least 1138, the date of the Battle of the Standard.^

The extent of the Lennox, for so the district came in time to be called,
passing from Levenach to Levenax and then to Lenox or Lennox, is very much
that of the original shire of Dumbarton, which contained, as we have seen, in
addition to its present parishes, seven now in Stirlingshire. But perhaps the Lennox
is more accurately represented by the old Rural Deanery of Lennox, which con-
tained all the parishes now in the Presbytery of Dumbarton, and in addition
Kilsyth, Campsie, Kirkintilloch, and Cumbernauld. -

This great district, from the time it was incorporated with the kingdom of
Scotland in 1034 along with the rest of Strathclyde, was probably, in name at
least, in the direct possession of the kings of Scotland, but shortly after 11 74
it was formed by King William the Lion into an Earldom and bestowed on his
brother Prince David, from whom it passed shortly afterwards into the possession
of Aluin the first of the old Earls of Lennox.^

The ancestor of these Earls of Lennox is stated by Douglas in his Peerage to
have been a certain Arkyll or Arkill, a Saxon Lord who fled from England.
He was received by Malcolm IIL and granted a large tract of land in the
counties of Dumbarton and Stirling, which was afterwards erected into the
Earldom of Lennox in favour of his grandson. This fanciful origin of the
race has been adopted by other writers of more or less authority, but the "emi-
nent refugee," has been very effectually disposed of by Mr. Robertson in his
Scotland tmder Her Early Kings,^ and Mr. Skene in his Celtic Scotland^ and
there seems no reason at all to doubt that the first Earl of Lennox was Aluin
or Alwyn, the Celtic chief of the " Levenani " of the district.

Land tenure in Scotland was by this time feudalized, and the Earls of Len-
nox, like other feudal lords, bestowed estates greater or less on the Church and
on their relatives and followers, for services rendered or to be rendered, either
spiritual or temporal, and we propose now to give in detail a history of all the
lands in Strathblane thus granted, from the time they left the Earls of Lennox
down to the present day.

' In Abbot Ethelred's account of the battle, the Levemani (no doubt, as pointed out by Mr.
R(jbiitson, a clerical error for Levenani) are mentioned as fighting in the third division of the
army — Levenani being the Latinized form of Leamhnaigh. — Historians of Scotland^ Fordun, vol.
i. p. 438.

^ Mr. Robertson seems to imply that tlie Lennox was of even greater extent. He says,
"The Lennox . . . seems to have anciently extended in this direction beyond the Forth;
for Tullil)ardine, Auchterarder, and Kincardine are described in old charters as situated in
CtitJiair Levcnachs. Reg. Morav. Cart. orig. 1012. — Scotland under Her Early A'ings, vol. ii. p.
372, note.

'^ Celtic Scottand, Skene, vol. iii. pp. 69, 70. ^Vol. ii. pp. 496, 497, note.

'"Celtic Scotland, Skene, vul. iii. ]")p. 359, 360, 361, and note.



The Barony of Mugdock^ and Easter Mugdock or Mugdock Michell or Mit-
chell, i.e. Michael or Mitchell's Mugdock, ^ form a large and important part of
Strathblane; and as the Grahams, the owners of it, were for long the principal
family in the parish, it seems natural and proper to take up first the history of
their lands and trace as far as the records allow their acquisition and consoli-
dation, and finally their partition.

The Grahams of Montrose, so far as can be traced from charters and other
deeds, first had lands in Strathblane in the time of
Maldoven, who was Earl of Lennox, circa 1225-70.
A charter of confirmation to David of Grahame by
King Alexander III., dated 27th December, 1253,'''
shows that he had received one grant of lands in
" Stratblathane " from Maldoven, Earl of Lennox, and
a second from Malcolm, this Earl's son, who died in

A charter by Malcolm, the succeeding Earl of
Lennox, son of this Malcolm and grandson of
Maldoven,"* and who was in possession of the earl-
dom circa 12 70-1 292, tells us exactly what these lands
were — viz., three quarters of a carucate, Scotice an
arachor, of the lands of Strathblane, two quarters being
where the church of Strathblane is built and the other being one quarter of the


A.D. 1292.

Frpin plwtograph of ijiifiressioH in

Chapter House Collection.

^ Otherwise — Mocetauc, Mecgetawc, Maesydawc, Magedawc, Mogadavacros, Mukdavacross,
Mugdok, Mukdow, Mukdog, Mukdok, Madog, Mugdige.

2 Every effort has failed to discover who this Michael or Mitchell was. There are no very
old titles of Easter Mugdock or Mugdock Mitchell extant, nor can anything be found in the
public records. There were no doubt Michaels or Mitchells who were early connected with the
Lennox. Thus there was in the time of Earl Maldoven, circa 1250, a Michael son of Edolf.
There was Michael Mackessan too, who also held lands in the Lennox — Michael, a cleik, and
others, but there is nothing to connect them specially with this part of the Earldom.

■^ Quoted from The Lennox, vol. ii. p. 13. * Cart, de Lez'cnax, p. 38,


land of Mogadavacros, now Mugdock. This charter is to Sir Patrick de Grame,
and there is another at the same time granting him the right of holding a
court and having a prison ^ for these and other lands in the neighbourhood.
The charter by Earl Maldoven of the Mogadavacros quarter is not extant so far
as is known, but the history of the other two quarters is quite clear. They had
at one time belonged to Feruware Macgilmartine, who, we are told,^ made an
excambion (or exchange) with consent of the Earl of that half carucate of land
in Strathblane where the church is built, with its pertinents,-'' for certain lands in
the territory of Dundaf which belonged to Sir David Graham. This second
acquisition, sanctioned as it was by the Earl, did not, for some reason or other,
please Malcolm, the Earl's son. He " took it ill,"' '' as his father expresses it,
and the lands were reconveyed to him, and by him, before 1248, a new charter
of them was granted ^ to Sir David, and the vvhole arrangement was again sanc-
tioned by Earl Maldoven in a charter of confirmation.^

It is a little difficult to point out where these three quarters of a carucate
of Strathblane land were situated, or what was their extent. The first quarter
" Unam quarteriam terre de Mogadavacros" was a part of Mugdock, most
probably where the Castle stood or now stands, including park, wood, loch,
Gallow Hill, and Craigend of Mugdock. It certainly did not include Easter
Mugdock, which is the only other Mugdock known, and which was not in the
Grahams' possession till long afterwards. That the first land of the Grahams
in Strathblane was where the Castle now stands seems the more likely, as
there are no charters at Buchanan Castle granting them afterwards any
further portion of Mugdock, and none are known to exist elsewhere. The
place is not mentioned again in any charter to them till it is included in
one by Duncan, Earl of Lennox, in 1423, and then it is simply styled " terre
de Mukdavacross." "^

The other two quarters, '• duas quarterias terre ubi ecclesia de Strablahane fun-
data est," included Leddriegreen, Edenkill, and others. What their extent was is
doubtful. A carucate or ploughgate of land, Scotice, arachor, is said by most
authorities to represent 104 acres; others say an arachor contains 160 acres;
thus the whole land granted to Sir David Graham would be 78, or at the
most 120 acres. But it must be remembered that a carucate or arachor, while

^ Cart, de Levenax, p. 40. ^ Charter at Buchanan.

* "In bosco et piano in terris cuUis et non culiis in duobus lacubus integj-is in eadem terra

■* " Quod dictus Malcohnus moleste tulerit donacionem quam feci dicto David."
^ Charter at Buchanan, and printed in 'The Lennox, vol. ii. p. 8.
^ Charter at Buchanan, and printed in The Lennox, vol. ii. p. 9.
' Charter at Buchanan.



it represented 104 or 160 acres of arable land, represented as well a varying
quantity of grazing land,^ lochs, woodlands, etc.

Certainly in this instance it did, for in the grant of the two quarters where
the church is built, it is stated that two lochs existed in them, and to take in
Dumbroch and Craigallian lochs, which are those nearest to the church, and
seem to be those meant,^ would imply an area of land far greater than either 78 or
120 acres. It is probable, therefore, these first two grants of Strathblane lands
included besides Mugdock, with its Gallow Knowe or Craigend, the present
estates of Leddriegreen, Edenkill, with the poffles in its neighbourhood, Dum-
broch, Peitch, and Craigallian, most of these lands being at that time either
rough grazing or muirs and bogs. But it is unnecessary to discuss further a
question there is no means of determining. Suffice it to say, as already shown,
the Grahams had a certain part of Strathblane before 27th December, 1253, and
they probably had, too, the manor place or Castle of Mugdock, where they had
their prison and held their courts,^ or at least its site where old Dineiddwg
stood. It is probable Mugdock Castle was built at this time, but it is
not known for certain. It is known, however, that it existed, whether built
by the Grahams or not, by 24th August, 1372, for on that date a deed relating
to the lands of Boclare and some money arrangements
between Sir Patrick of Grahame and Angus Hawinroyss is
signed " apud manerium de Mugdok." *

The third acquisition of lands that the Grahams made
in Strathblane was in the time of Malcolm, fourth Earl of
Lennox, between 1270 and 1292. This was the lands of
Garchebeth or Gartbeth — the modern Carbeth — which along
with Brengrochan and Kynmannan (Kilmannan) were then dis-
poned by Sir Simon Croc to Patrick de Graham,^ and the Fr(»7i phftograpk of im-
present estate of Auchengillan was probably part of them. ^Z^'lTcJuectfon'!^''''

On the 24th October, 1458, King James II. erected the Stirlingshire lands
of the Grahams into the Barony of Mugdock in favour of Patrick, Lord of
Graham,^ and the Strathblane lands in it appear under the names of Kilmannan

Online LibraryJohn Guthrie SmithThe parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history → online text (page 2 of 45)