Thursday, 8 June 2023

Some hometown history

Back in Glasgow for a few days visiting my mum and catching up with friends.  I usually try and squeeze in some kind of historical facts in a post when I've been away but haven't been anywhere of much interest on this trip.  The best I can manage is a few 'interesting' facts about my hometown, Rutherglen which sits just to the south east of Glasgow.

Rutherglen lays claim to being Scotland's oldest royal burgh (granted by King David in 1126) although there are a few other claimants for that, and is fiercely independent of Glasgow, despite being pretty much a suburb.  It was an industrial town with mining, shipbuilding a chemical works and steel all being local industries but has really struggled since all of these declined over time and is now quite a deprived town.  The chemical works has left an unpleasant legacy of chromium waste and other nasties lurking under the soil, especially under the football pitches and playgrounds I used to play on as a wean.

One interesting historical titbit is the persistent local legend that a plot was hatched at a local church to betray and capture William Wallace at the end of the 13thC.  This tower, St Mary's Tower....

... is often claimed to be the venue where Sir John Mentieth and other Scottish nobles met with the English to hatch a plot to betray Wallace, or occasionally it is where he was actually captured (but it wasn't).  In fact this tower dates from the 16thC so although they may have plotted at a previous church on the site, it wasn't in this tower.  The tower originally had a square crenellated top until the 17thC when the spire was added to house a bell.

There are also rumours of a tunnel under the graveyard which led to Rutherglen Castle and which was used by Mary Queen of Scots and/or Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape.  It's fascinating how these local myths and legends grow and become 'fact'.  I imagine Nessie also made use of the tunnel to reach the nearby Clyde.  

There were actually 2  castles... one, Farme Castle dated from the 13th century and was criminally demolished in the 1960s.  The other, Rutherglen Castle, was demolished after Mary QoS's defeat at the Battle of Langside which took place a couple of miles to the west (most things in Scottish history seem to come back to MQoS)

Finally no trip to Glasgow is complete with a picture of the Duke of Wellington statue in the city centre adorned with his traditional traffic cone which has become a city icon.  A few years ago the city council made a concerted effort to stop the cone but failed... never tell Glaswegians they can't do something!  And I was pleased to see a local statue in Rutherglen was also sporting a cone...

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating facts about Rutherglen.
    I love the Frostgrave wizards in their splendid hats. One to one scale l imagine.
    Alan Tradgardland