The area of Kirkton fascinates me. Not just for it’s impressive stone buildings and walls, that seem to stand the test of time, but for just how old the area is. Historical detail is rapidly giving way to progress, but Kirkton has also had it’s fair share of buildings that didn’t last to this era. The Station Cafe, the tenements in Main Street, the Priestfield Rows, the old churches, all built of stone, but no longer here. Replaced by modern buildings, the old stone was put to good use. Important foundation stones, keystones, and masonry marked stones of importance were utilised in the building and repair of the current walls, kerbs and religious buildings.
These wonderful photos are courtesy of Jim Brown who definitely needs credit for the amazing photographic work around this town. I’ve often been intrigued by the mark on the base stonework on the arch in Kirkton. It’s repeated on various places in the High Blantyre area, including Causeystanes, Preistfield, the arch itself and also actually on the local High Blantyre Parish Church. The mark is a small horizontal line, with 3 downward radiating strokes, which most certainly was a benchmark or stamp of the masonry person. The stamp would likely be not only attributable to a particular craftsman, but also to a timeline too, which in this instance, i believe to be mid 1800s. There were several nearby quarries, including Auchintibber, where this particular stone looks as though it’s originated from. The quarries of Low Blantyre tended to be red sandstone quarries with a fiery colour to the stone. The stones of Kirkton are more grey and hard, almost granite like.
Of particular interest is the re-use of these stones. As the old buildings, old churches and walls were demolished, the grander, marked stones have clearly been kept aside and integrated into the construction of the current walls and kirk. For example, you may have walked a hundred times up the path at High Blantyre Church to the big red door, but have you ever noticed the markings on the kerbline to your right? The inscription date 1777 is marked on the kerblines, showing these stones were probably carved at least over 230 years ago. The 1777 date is very close to the date the stone church was built in the old kirkyard (demolished in mid 1880’s in favour of the new current Parish Kirk). The old masonry stones can be found on the foundations of the current High Blantyre Parish Church.
If you work in the masonry trade or know anywhere else where this particular mark appears, i’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Thanks.
Update April 2014: The 1777 mystery is now solved. See here http://blantyreproject.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/smithycroft-high-blantyre/