There is a reference in the 1885 Annals of Blantyre book to “an old graveyard in Blantyre, covered in daisies and buttercups that had not been disturbed for hundreds of years.” This has always puzzled me, as dead people were being interred in the old Kirkton graveyard not just at the time this book was written, but also for many decades (and centuries) before it. Not only that, but the
book was actually written by the minister. This raises a big mystery. What graveyard was he talking about then?
It wasn’t the Priestfield or High Blantyre Cemetery road graveyards which came later. Neil Gordon’s book explored the possibility that the kirk graveyard was originally flat and level with the road and that in subsequent years in was built upon, but i find that difficult to understand as I don’t think unrelated interments on top of each other is very Christianlike? Was there another older cemetery? I’d hear rumours of a graveyard near Stoneymeadow Road and was delighted to find a few people like Alan Reardon and Jim Brown, offering me a visit to the location!
So, in mid September, Jim and I walked up the Stonemeadow Road, just beyond the Dalton T junction and in to the woodland on the left, where there is an old path. Jim was able to show me where the old cemetery was, and I have added to this with some subsequent investigation below. Best described by my marked up aerial map (click to enlarge).
The Cemetery itself is actually a burial mound, quite steep in places. It is very distinct in the area, as the trees on it are deciduous (leaves fall) by comparison to the younger, denser evergreen pine forest around it. There is a little 1 foot stone dyke all around it, perhaps the remains of a larger wall.
The old path into the burial mound is now cut off by the modern East Kilbride Expressway and a new path has formed through the forest. It’s quite an easy walk with good access, unspoiled and very peaceful.
Once at the clearing, the wall is very visible and you get a sense of just how large the alleged burial ground was. I say alleged, for despite best efforts, I found no graves, nor can find any records of interments. There is a suggestion, this was an old Covenanter’s cemetery but this is unproven.
When I got home, I found a map from 1936 showing the enclosure with little neat rows of marker stone (assumed graves). There is no forest around it then and the burial mound itself is shown as a conical feature with steep sides. Earlier maps denote quarry activities nearby, which may account for a few large boulders on the mound itself.
I managed to take several photos which should help put things into context. I’d highly recommend a visit. Very interesting and close by!