Greenhall Rifle Range Location

I recently wrote about the discovery of the Greenhall Rifle Range, which opened in 1867 and confirmed it was on the Greenhall Estate on a flat piece of land. This got me thinking as to where it may have been. I now have a good contender for the location.

I have ruled out the range being near the former Greenhall House. There’s no way Dr Moore would have permitted a range right beside his home and in any case the land surrounding the house is all wooded and very steep. That leaves the land to the south of the current A725.

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Stan Paul’s map of Greenhall Estate, kindly given to me in 2017

Using Stan Paul’s map he gave me showing Greenhall Estate Boundaries, I homed in on the furthest away fields, without any woodland or any obstruction and especially those that are long.

Now, on the 1898 map near the Craigmuir right of way, there is a raised earthworks feature that was NOT there on the 1859 map. Here it is within the red highlighted area superimposed on a modern aerial image. It is immediately adjacent to a former hollowed quarry. The earthworks are indeed strange and attract attention as the opening of the range described the men working on creating an earthworks “butt” from where they could fire from.

The long field right in front of it is an excellent contender for the range. It is north facing, meaning volunteers wouldn’t be firing west or east into the sun. It faces directly across to Dechmont to the other rifle range and importantly is away from all homes and people. It is easily accessed too, from nearby Craigmuir Road and Sydes Brae, with a well present on the site also.

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My suggested site for Greenhall Rifle Range

I’m willing to bet anybody with a metal detector will make some finds in the yellow marked area, where the shots would have fallen, and where targets would have been set up. It’s been some time since I’ve walked that ‘right of way’ but the raised area is there behind some trees and distinctively separate from the gorse covered quarry beside it.

I think this is the most probable area for Greenhall Firing Range that the Blantyre 44th Rifle Corps designed and used. It’s also on the exact boundary with Calderwood lands, and its notable that Baronet Maxwell of Calderwood attended the opening day of the range on 1st June 1867.

Finally, although a site visit is needed, Google Earth now allows you to zoom into ground level in the context of height above sea level. As you can see the approximated view from the raised mound provides, a flat, excellent area for a rifle range to be set out with Dechmont on the left on the horizon.

More research is clearly needed, after all this was 151 years ago and long forgotten by even the grandparents of people alive today. However,  I’m excited about this and fairly confident that my theory is pointing in the right direction.

Have I found the 44th Rifle Range?

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  1. Just spotted the excellent research re- Greenhall Rifle Range. Just one detail needs correcting – the purpose of the ‘substantial Butt’ erected in 1867 was not for volunteers ‘to shoot from’, instead it would have been built behind the target location with the purpose of absorbing stray bullets. It is unlikely that the range was aligned towards Greenhall House – ranges were always aligned away from housing, I believe that the likely alignment was on level ground in a SE direction towards the area of the known earth banks. The max distance actually fired at Greenhall I have found so far was recorded as 300 yards, while shooting at ‘second-class ranges’ (distances up to 600y) at the rifle range was recorded as being approved by the Government Inspector [Hamilton Advertiser, 08 June 1867].

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