Campknowe or Campknow, is a circular mound of earthworks located at Calderside, Auchentibber. The mound is purported to be a Bronze age hill fort dating back to between 2000-700BC and this suggestion has appeared in many accounts over the last few centuries. The site is important for Blantyre as it represents perhaps the oldest known habitation of humans in the area.
Shared here with permission, is a brilliant reconstruction by Chris Ladds, showing a panorama of how the fort would have looked like, fitting into Blantyre’s landscape. It would have stood is a very strong defensive position, is likely to have had water around much of it, with a sheer drop at one side down to the stream. The picture is viewed looking North West.
In 1835 the New Statistical Account of Blantyre stated, “There is a singular
conical hill at Calderside, which goes by the name of “Camp Knowe”. It is 600 feet in circumference, & was anciently surrounded by a ditch”. Later in 1859, the Parish Records recorded, “The Knowe is now ploughed over & does not retain anything of the shape above described. The slope shewn on Examination Trace appears to have been part of the Knowe. All the other sides are too gradual to represent by a slope. The bottom of the Knowe, – shewn in yellow, now mingles with the other parts of the field that it is difficult to properly define. The name is written on the Examination Trace exactly on the highest part. No remains of a ditch are now to be seen, nor do the Proprietor nor the best authorities in the vicinity know the place where a ” Subterranean Structure” described in New Statistical Account was found. There is a Loch on the south east of Camp Knowe, which is in Winter sometimes flooded.” The previous 1791 Statistical account does not mention Campknowe.
We know water did at least partially go around it, for water is known to flood there, not just in recent times, and not only from the
above account, but is actually shown as flooded on the Blantyre 1859 map, with a channel likely acting as an overflow to delimit the water into the nearby stream.
The subject of a cavern or underground chamber is very interesting. It is mentioned in the Gazetteers of Scotland. In 1846 a subterranean structure made of flag stones was noted, but it’s location has now been lost. Indeed the shape of the conical hill itself is now more likely to be less severe and more gradual, again due to subsequent ploughing activities.
It is easy to miss Campknowe. This modern photo by Chris Ladds shows how the hill sits proudly in between modern properties, but could be missed quite easily as just another raised field.
The site needs a proper survey and further investigation and I cant help but wonder what a geophysics survey of the ground would bring. Bronze age artefacts, including clayware have previously been found here. If anybody is interested in visiting the site, please keep in mind the country code and remember this area is private property of the nearby farm.