Bothwell Monument


1903-bothwell-bridge-covenenater-wmThis photo is taken from a little Blantyre booklet in 1904 called Gilmours Directory. It was likely included amongst the Blantyre articles, as the monument had only recently been built in 1903 and although in Bothwell, outwith Blantyre Parish, it may have been of interest to many nearby Blantyre people.

Funded by public subscription, it was erected near the 224th anniversary of the battle. The monument was to remember that battle. That Saturday, on 20th June 1903, “over 25,000 people assembled at Bothwell Bridge to witness the unveiling of a monument to the Covenanters who fell in battle at that place.” (FP Magazine Vol. 8, p. 120) to listen to a speech by Lord Overtoun. In time, the monument has lost its railings.

The Battle of Bothwell Bridge is significant as it brought to an end the 1679 Covenanter rebellion. This was the largest of the Covenanter uprisings of the 17th century and featured many figures who were prominent in Scottish political and military history in the latter part of the century. It was also final major battle between the Covenanters and their Government opponents.

The Battle of Bothwell Bridge was a major defeat for the Covenanter army against the Government troops lead by the Duke of Monmouth. The catalyst for the Covenanter uprising was the hard-line repression of their conventicles by Government forces. An attempt by Government dragoons to break up a conventicle at Drumclog in Lanarkshire on 1 June 1679 had resulted in a battle victory for the Covenanters.

Following this triumph a confident Covenanter army marched on Glasgow but failed to take the city. A Government army under the Duke of Monmouth hurried north to meet the Covenanters positioned to the south of Hamilton. The overwhelming Government victory at Bothwell Bridge effectively signalled the end of the Covenanters’ military activities.

An archaeological evaluation and metal detecting survey was undertaken in 2006 in advance of a proposed housing scheme within a field 50m from the north end of Bothwell Bridge known as the Covenanter’s Field. A number of musket balls were recovered which may represent bullets fired at the Government army as they took up position on the high ground against the Covenanters stationed on the bridge.

From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016

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Alan Reardon Those captured at Bothwell were incarcerated on land near Greyfriers Kirkyard and eventually transported to the Colonies. Three who made to escape were caught at Earnock in Hamilton Two by the name Smith of Earnockmuir and one unnamed and were shot on the spot. Their bodies were buried on a mound marked by 3 fir trees. Later the Watson Family erected a monument that has now been moved to the Old Parish Church in Hamilton. The graves are now marked by another monument that is near to Lady Watson Gardens. It was not however the end of the conflict. Those at the battle that survived were deemed rebels and traitors and a core of hard line men that were left and still armed were formed into the Cameronians after Richard Cameron who was killed at a skirmish at Airds Moss. The repression that followed became known as the Killing Times 1680 -1688 when John Graham Laird of Claverhouse was commissioned to carry out the orders of the Privvy Council and was responsible for various summary executions earning him the name of Bluidy Claverhouse by the Covenanters.
Alan Reardon The Cameronian regiment were barracked in Hamilton from 1881 until 1947 and disbanded at Douglas Castle Douglas on 14th of May 1968. One of the three trees marking the graves at Earnock was blown down in a storm and a gun cabinet was made from the wood and is preserved at Ross House near Hamilton
Archie Peat I wonder if the then Duke of Hamilton was involved or conspicuously ” not involved ” as the battle was fought on the edge of his estate ? Impossible for him or his people not to be involved in the aftermath, wounded or fugitives etc.
Alan Reardon Well Archie in the early 1600s the Dukes of Hamilton were more than likely Royalist. The dukes had various titles that were handed down and many became dormant or extinct through deaths or lack of heirs. By the time in question and through lack of male heirs the title fell to The first Dukes daughter Anne and she became the Duchess of Hamilton in her own right. This was the lady who with her husband William Douglas the first Earl of Selkirk laid the foundations for Hamilton Palace and built the Hamilton Burgh School which became Hamilton Academy. She was sympathetic to the covenanter cause and many fled to the palace grounds. Whether she protected any I can’t say but she was known as the Good Duchess Anne and after the reformation presented communion cups to all churches on her estate.

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