Ancient Remains at Blantyre 1939


Coatshill Farm 1898 overlaid with today aerial

Coatshill Farm 1898 overlaid with today aerial

DISCOVERY IN PLOUGHED FIELD.
TRACTOR HITS STONE CIST AND SEPULCHURAL URN- APRIL 1939.

An 1939 accident led to the discovery at Coatshill Farm, Blantyre, of an ancient stone cist of coffin containing a partially ornamented urn of primitive design. On the site of what is today, Bellairs Place, The Hamilton Advertiser covered the event on 29/4/1939 commenting;

“The farm, which is occupied by Messrs Andrew Jackson & son, is situated a little to the north of Priory Colliery, and is reached by a service road from the main Blantyre-Glasgow highway. The field in which the tractor was at work, rises in the centre to an elevation commanding a wide view of the surrounding country. (likely the Hill of the Coats!). It was on this high ground that the tractor, operated by Mr Jackson, whilst ploughing, struck a hard substance and was partially damaged thereby.

Some days later Mr Jackson, accompanied by Mr R. Dickson, Bothwell, a relative of the farmer, proceeded to the field where the tractor was damaged to remove the stone. It was then discovered that there were four slabs of stone forming an oblong chest, and containing an urn which was so friable that it went to pieces when removed. It was still possible, however, to reassemble a portion of it and to determine its shape and size. It was about seven inches in height and six inches diameter at the top. It had the appearance of being composed of sun-baked clay, and the ornamentation consisted of two raised lathe-made encircling rings and a considerable number of small indentations made by the finger or some blunt instrument when the clay was soft, and arranged in a succession of V’s around the urn. One of the slabs of the cist shows evidence of having been subjected to fire and there is the faint resemblance of ornamentation on the blackened surface.

These cists and urns hereabouts are of great age. They may date from the Neolithic period, when out of stone Neolithic man shaped his implements for common use and his weapons for war, down to the time which is immediately preceded the invasion of these islands by the Roman legions. The remains just discovered at Coatshill, Blantyre, are reckoned by Mr A.G. Millar of Hamilton, local archaeologist and historian to be from 200 to 2500 years old.

It is just possible that this mound on which the discovery was made was a burial ground of the “rude forefathers” a tumulus covering other remains of ancient sepulture. But the field has now been completely ploughed over and planted with potatoes, and at the moment the exact character of the local cannot be determined.

In the Statistical account published in 1841, the article on Blantyre was the joint work of the Rev. William Patrick, Hamilton and Mr George Miller of Blantyre Works. On antiquities the Authors say:–

Urns have been dug up at different times in several parts of the parish, and some of them were found in a large heap of stones. In the centre of the heap, square stones were placed so as to form a kind of chest, and the urns were placed within it. They contained a kind of unctuous earthy substance and some remains of bones were scattered around them. Strong impressions of fire were also evident on many of the stones. About three years ago (the article was written in 1835) a stone coffin of the above description with an urn standing in one corner of it was turned up at Shott, near the Parish Church….The urn was of baked earth seemingly only semi-dried, five and a half inches high and the same across the mouth. It was partially ornamented with rude impressions made in the clay when soft. Fragments of six lager urns more highly ornamented, and better burned, were found in other parts of the field, which was called Archer’s Croft, High Blantyre”

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