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The Castles of Rutherglen & Cambuslang

From the script of a programme with the same name which features in CamGlen Radio’s ‘Halfway to Burgh’ local history series, first broadcast in June 2021.

The programme takes the form of a tour around the sites of the castles which once stood in and around Rutherglen and Cambuslang.

Right, photograph of Farme Castle, Rutherglen, taken c. 1860.

Image credit:

Farme Glasgow West

There have been more than 2,000 castles in Scotland. Many of those have vanished leaving hardly a trace of their existence, indeed all but one of the castles in this area have disappeared completely.


Even though they have gone or become dilapidated, historical records leave us enough information to show us where they were, what they looked like and tell us something of the lives of the people who lived in them in times of peace, as well as in times of conflict. Given Scotland’s often turbulent history, the castles around the two towns were often witness to periods of unrest.


I’m now just to the north of Rutherglen Main Street. There’s a square of buildings comprising an L-shaped block of tenement flats and The Salvation Army, bounded by King Street, Green Road, Victoria Street and Castle Street. And where those buildings are was the site of Rutherglen Castle. On the wall of the tenement flats, up until a few years ago, was a wee brown oval plaque telling us that Rutherglen Castle stood near there. But the plaque, like the castle, has vanished.

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Above, Rutherglen Heritage Trail plaque in Castle Street indicating the site of Rutherglen Castle. The plaque is no longer there. (inset)

Photos: Carrick McDonald

Rutherglen Castle

The history books tell us that Rutherglen castle was a substantial building and one of some historical importance. According to Shearer, it was ‘considered one of the strongest fortresses in the kingdom, and would afford a sense of security to the inhabitants.’ 

Right, this 1857 Ordnance Survey town plan of Glasgow shows the site of Rutherglen castle to the north of King Street, known historically as the Back Raw.


Although the tree-lined grounds of the castle are still evident on the map, any traces of the castle itself had long since disappeared.


The old town hall is shown at the bottom of the map on Main Street outside what is now Rutherglen Library.


Erected in 1766, this building, which included a courtroom and prison cell, was replaced in 1862 by the present town hall. The old town hall was demolished in 1900.


Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

1857 OS Map.jpg

Extract from Rev. David Ure’s History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride, 1793

'The castle of Rutherglen was ranked among the ancient fortresses of Scotland, and might on that account give the town a claim to more than ordinary attention from the King. This castle, which is said to have been at first built by the Monarch that gave name to the town, was considered as a place of importance as late as the year 1309'.

In his Reminiscences of Rutherglen published in 1890, Hugh Muir also mentions the origins of the castle, and tells us that 'Several authors carry back the origin of it [the castle] to King Reuther, who is said to have reigned upwards of two centuries before the Christian era.'

As for the castle’s historical importance, that relates mainly to events during the conflict between Robert the Bruce and John Balliol who contested the Scottish throne in the early 14th. Century. This is how Ure’s History describes the conflict:

'At that unhappy period, Scotland was thrown into the greatest disorder, by powerful parties contending for the crown. An application had, by mutual consent, been made to Edward, King of England, to settle, by way of arbitration, the differences that had arisen among them. That ambitious Prince accepted the offer, but with a view to annex the kingdom of Scotland to the crown of England. To accomplish his design, he perfidiously fomented the differences he had undertaken amicably to compose. Improving the advantages that were thrown in his way, he reduced, by the assistance of Baliol’s interest, a great part of Scotland under his power'.

Ure tells us that this conflict saw the occupation of Rutherglen and many other Scottish castles by the English, initially under Edward I, and by Bruce’s own enemies within Scotland. Edward was supposedly acting as arbitrator in the dispute between Bruce and John Balliol. Edward in fact, sided with Balliol who in 1292 was crowned king of Scots on the Stone of Destiny at Scone. The ceremony was overseen by English officials rather than the traditional Scottish earls and churchmen. (2)

Right, John Balliol, with his crown and sceptre symbolically broken and with an empty coat of arms, depicting him as a weak king.

Attribution: Forman Armorial (produced for Mary Queen of Scots, 1562)        Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

John Balliol unknown artist public domain.jpg

'The castle of Rutherglen, with many others, fell into the hands of the English; or rather into the hands of the anti-Brucean party, aided by the English. King Robert Bruce, who had to combat not only the forces of Edward, but Balliol's party in Scotland, laid siege to the castle of Rutherglen, as a place of too great importance to remain in the possession of the enemy'.

Gradually, Bruce gained the upper hand against Balliol and the English, who were led from 1307 by Edward’s less able son, Edward II. In 1309, the same year Bruce held his first parliament in St. Andrews, he laid siege to Rutherglen castle. Edward II sent his nephew the Earl of Gloucester to relieve the English garrison.

'It is not probable that the siege of the castle of Rutherglen was raised, by the Earl of Gloucester, at the time above referred to. It might, however, have fallen into the hands of the English sometime afterwards, and be retaken by Edward Bruce, in the year 1313. But in whatever point of light that matter is viewed, it appears that this place of strength was, both by Scots and English, thought to have been of considerable importance'.


So it was not until 1313 that Rutherglen castle was finally reclaimed by Bruce’s brother Edward. That same year, John Balliol died and Bruce went on to inflict a decisive defeat on the English at Bannockburn a year later. Both events strengthened his grip on the Scottish crown.


Rutherglen castle was spared demolition by Bruce who destroyed many other Scottish strongholds he reclaimed, so determined was he that they would not fall into the hands of his enemies again.

Left, Robert the Bruce and his first wife Isabella of Mar

Attribution: Forman Armorial (produced for Mary Queen of Scots, 1562) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

By the 16th century the castle was in the hands of the Hamiltons. It was razed to the ground by Regent Moray in 1569, a year after defeating his half-sister, Mary Queen of Scots, at the Battle of Langside. This was an act of revenge on the Hamiltons for being supporters of the Queen.

The Hamiltons seemed to have had the final word in the matter, however, as Moray was fatally wounded a year later in Linlithgow by a carbine, shot from an upstairs window by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, making Moray the first head of government, and possibly the first person ever, to be assassinated by a firearm.

The castle's great tower, Shearer tells us, was afterwards repaired, becoming the seat of the Hamiltons of Elistoun, who were then Lairds of Shawfield 

Right, portrait by the Flemish artist Hans Eworth of Regent Moray, otherwise James Stewart 1st. Earl of Moray, who razed Rutherglen castle to the ground in 1569.

Attribution: Hans Eworth, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Left, street sign for Moray Court, off Queen Street, near the site of Rutherglen Castle. A distant echo perhaps, of the Regent's vengeful visit to the town in 1569.

Photo: Carrick McDonald

Here is how Ure’s History describes the final years of Rutherglen castle.

'One of the principal towers was, however, soon repaired, and, being enlarged by some modern improvements, became the seat of the Hamiltons of Elistoun, Lairds of Shawfield. At length, on the decline of that family, it was, about a century ago, left to fall into ruins, and, by frequent dilapidations, was soon levelled with the ground.'

Rutherglen castle became a ruin sometime in the late 16th. century, its remains, according to Shearer, 'being ruthlessly shovelled away to build dykes, outhouses, rockeries, etc., until scarcely a trace was left to show it ever existed'. It is thought that dressed stonework on some of the oldest buildings in the town came from the ruins of the castle. The foundations, consisting of large blocks of stone, were removed and used to construct walls of adjacent field boundaries.

'There is not now, however' wrote Hugh MacDonald in Rambles Round Glasgow (1860) 'even the faintest vestige of the structure.'

The history of Rutherglen Castle is perhaps neatly summarised in the 1878 book The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry, as follows:

'In days of old, and when Glasgow was a mere village, Rutherglen and its neighbourhood was a place of great importance, and the Castle of Rutherglen was a stronghold of the early Scottish kings. Edward I, during his usurpation of Scotland early took possession of it, and after being besieged by the Bruce, it was taken by his brother Edward in 1313. It stood for long after this, and was inhabited in its latter days by a branch of the house of Hamilton. It has, however, now totally disappeared, the last remains of it having been carted away and used for various ignoble purposes.'

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Above, 1893 Ordnance Survey map showing the site of Rutherglen castle. The presence of new housing and the expansion of industrialisation is evident since the 1857 map shown earlier. Pit No. 3 of General Spens' Stonelaw Colliery sits at the eastern end of King Street near the East Free Church, the steeple of which now forms part of the Aspire building.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

I’m standing on Stonelaw Road in Burnside at the corner of Viewpark Drive. Across the road is Tesco, which is where the Rhul cinema stood until it was demolished in 1960. Just to the left of Tesco is another eyesore: the site of an old filling station which has lain vacant for some years now. Behind that is a row of flats built maybe in the early 1970s. That’s where Stonelaw Tower stood. Those flats are known as Stonelaw Towers.

By the way, this part of Burnside, isn’t actually Burnside at all, according to local historian David Jackson in the audio clip below.

Stonelaw not BurnsideDavid Jackson
00:00 / 00:36

Stonelaw Tower

Stonelaw Tower was not really a castle at all, but it is listed on the Scottish Castles Association website, where they refer to it as a 'castellated mansion'.


One of the earliest maps on which the name Stonelaw appears is William Forrest’s 1816 map. Forrest’s map shows the names of the people who owned the local estates. 


Right, William Forrest's 1816 map showing, bottom right, Stonelaw as the property of Gen. Spens.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Wm Forrest 1816 map Stonelaw.jpg

The owner of Stonelaw shown on the map was a man called Gen. Spens. He was Provost of Rutherglen on several occasions in the late 1790s and early 1800s and was the last of the Spenses of Stonelaw. Apart from operating coal mines on his land, Spens took an interest in local agriculture and is credited with helping to improve the soil condition on the farms around the town. He opened his Stonelaw Colliery in 1774 and it comprised three pits.

Gen. Spens was clearly held in high regard locally because of his energy and vision and the diversity of his interests:

From Rutherglen Lore by William Ross Shearer, 1922

'Major [later General] John Spens was one of the most practical men of his time, a keen agriculturist and experimenter, and it is doubtless to his unremitting efforts that Stonelaw Estate owes its beauty. No person in the parish carried on improvements with greater spirit and success than he did. Not only in agriculture, but in road-repairing and forestry, he proved himself an adept, and a diligent advocate for the best in everything.


Few farmers nowadays steep their grain twelve hours in salted water before sowing, and few coal-masters take such trouble as he did; and in order to get good manure, he filled up the cart tracks leading to his collieries with oyster shells. Both for ornament and shelter, the Major, we are told, planted several thousand trees of different kinds round Stonelaw, and for these laudable endeavours mankind has decreed that Stonelaw Wood shall keep his memory green till the end of time.'

W R Shearer Scotlands War RR.jpg

William Ross Shearer 

In Rutherglen Lore, Shearer tells us that 'the battlemented portion of Stonelaw Tower is actually the engine-room of two pits that formerly stood there.' Forrest's map shows an 'Engine' at Stonelaw, as does Thomas Richardson's earlier 1795 map.

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The tower formed part of a larger, lower-level structure, built in 1883, presumably replacing an earlier estate house shown on William Forrest’s map. In appearance, Stonelaw Tower was designed to look older than it was. With its three stories and small gothic arched windows, it tried its best to look like a medieval keep.

Left, colourised version of the photograph of Stonelaw Tower which appears in Rutherglen Lore by W. Ross Shearer, published in 1922. 

Image credit: The Scottish Castles Association

Although Stonelaw Tower is thought to date from the late Victorian period as noted above, the 1858 Ordnance Survey map (right) indicates that the building, which sat to the south of Stonelaw Farm, dates from an earlier period. 

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

1858 OS Map showing Stonelaw Tower.jpg

The tower did not really match the rest of the building, apart from its castellated flat roof. The entire property, including the tower, became known collectively as Stonelaw Tower. The Scottish Castles Association website tells us that Stonelaw was filled with antique furniture, panelling and armour. Also, that the vestibule had a 'genuine' painted ceiling, genuine in that it was removed from the Palace of Scottish History at the Glasgow Exhibition of 1911.

Following the death of Gen. Spens, Stonelaw  passed through the hands of a variety of owners. In 1928, Lodge Burnside 1361 'unanimously decided to purchase Stonelaw Tower from Mr and Mrs Richard H Reid for a fee of £2,450.' The building was never consecrated as a Masonic Temple. However, a few Committee meetings were held in the premises and a garden party took place in the grounds for members, families and friends, children being admitted at half price.

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Above right, photograph thought to date from the 1920s, of Hamilton's Garage in Stonelaw Road, showing behind it the upper section of Stonelaw Tower. Image credit: Jim Campbell. (1)


In the late 1920s, the Masonic Lodge sold Stonelaw Tower to Councillor Alan Tilston who lived there with his wife from the 1930s until 1963. It is said that Mr. Tilston stood, unsucessfully, as the Unionist (Conservative) party candidate for the Glasgow, Bridgeton constituency.

In 1965, following her husband's death, Mrs. Tilston, who would prove to be the property's last resident, sold the tower and surrounding land to the Shell Petroleum Company, at which time, dilapidated and vandalised, the tower was demolished.

Left, Councillor and Mrs. Tilston photographed at their wedding at Stonelaw Tower on 24th. September 1934. 

Image credit: Jay Tilston, Jim Campbell

'In the winter we lived in one room and it was the smallest room in the tower which was the lowest floor. The tower was just one room per floor and and we lived in that room. We didn't heat the rest of the house. I remember my father got a quote for central heating and it was £1,200. Now in those days that was more than a year's salary for most people. So it was a non-starter. You put another coat on the bed.'

Donald Tilston, November 2022

The map produced by Bartholomew for the 1910 Glasgow Post Office Directory, shows the close proximity to Stonelaw Tower of Stonelaw Farm. The remains of sections of wall near the present-day flats, are those of the boundary wall between the tower and the farm, and possibly of one of the farm buildings. 

Right, Bartholomew's 1910 Post Office Directory map showing the proximity of Stonelaw Tower to Stonelaw Farm.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Stonelaw Tower Bartholomews 1910.jpg

'There was a farm next door to our house where the houses on the corner are [225-231 Stonelaw Road], and in the morning I used to go with a jug next door to get the milk. The farm was about 5 acres, so it was a very small farm.'

Donald Tilston, November 2022

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Above and right, surviving sections of what was the perimeter wall between the grounds of Stonelaw Tower and the adjoining Stonelaw Farm.

Photos: Carrick McDonald

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I’m now halfway down Baronald Street, on its west side, looking across the road at some large industrial units. This whole area is quite heavily industrialised as it has been for many years, but where those industrial units are, was the site of Farme Castle. In fact, round the back of those units is a housing development called Farme Castle Court.

Farme Castle

There is a photograph of Farme Castle in Rutherglen Lore. The photograph shows a three storey keep, thought to date from the 15th. century.

In later years, the keep formed one corner of a courtyard within a castellated mansion, similar in a way to the set up at Stonelaw Tower. The original keep of Farme Castle was genuinely medieval though, not a Victorian copy, and its origins may date back to the 1300s based on writing found in the roof by workmen making alterations to it in 1792.

Right, photograph from Rutherglen Lore of Farme Castle.  

Farme Castle R Lore Shearer red.jpg

In one room where a stucco ceiling was being removed, a wooden roof was found behind it, on which a number of curious inscriptions had been written in old English, including this little rhyme which appeared below the family crest of an earlier owner:

'Thir armes that is heir, that ar abuine pented, ar the nobill howses that the laird of this hows is decendit.                     J. C. A. H., written 1325.'

Extract from Rev. David Ure’s History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride, 1793

1980s early - Sketch represent. of disco

'Next to the town, on the east, and along the side of the river, is the estate of Farme. It is said to have been once the private property of some of the Stuarts, Kings of Scotland. It afterwards belonged to the family of Crawford, who naming it from themselves, called it Crawford's Farme. It came afterwards into the possession of Sir Walter Stuart of Minto, who dwelt in the castle, about the year 1645. He is reported to have been a gentleman of extraordinary prudence and humanity; and, during the commotions of the times, to have obtained for Rutherglen many favours.

The Flemings had it for some time in their possession. It is now called Farme, and has, for some time past, been the property of James Farie, Esq. who made a purchase of it from the Duke of Hamilton. On the estate is an ancient castle the family-seat of Mr. Farie. The period in which it was built is unknown; but the thick walls, the few, narrow, and irregularly placed windows, the strong battlements are evidences of its antiquity, and that it was erected as a place of strength'.

Left, this 1980s drawing imagines how geologist, historian and minister David Ure may have looked based on a description of his appearance in his biography. 

Image of David Ure provided courtesy of Chris Ladds: © East Kilbride & District Historical Archive 2020

'Being kept in excellent repair, it is wholly habitable, and may continue for ages to come, a beautiful pattern of the manner, after which, the habitations of the powerful barons of Scotland, were anciently constructed. Mr. Farie, to prevent his lands from being injured by inundations, has lately raised a bank about 600 yards in length'.

As we learned from Rev. Ure, the estate of Farme (known anciently as Ferme) once belonged at different times to the Stuarts, the Hamiltons, the Crawfords, the Flemings and the Faries, which family name many Ruglonians pronounce as 'Fairy' as in 'Fairy' Street. There is also mention of the Earl of Douglas laying claim to the estate in 1389. Ure's reference to 'inundations' and to the steps Farie took to prevent those, reflect the close proximity of the estate to the River Clyde which bounded the property on two sides and which was prone to burst its banks. Farie commissioned extensive work on the castle, redesigning it as a castellated mansion.


The Faries moved out of Farme Castle in the 1890s but retained ownership of the estate, and the castle remained habitable for many years after they left. One of the last tenants was James Anderson, manager of the Farme Collieries and whose son was reported to be living there in the 1920s. There is also mention of a Miss Robertson living in the castle, and she may possibly have been its last resident.

Increasingly pressed in upon by factories and housing, Shearer foresaw the fate of Farme castle, writing in Rutherglen Lore about 'the grime and smoke of foundries, and the encroachment of numerous tenement buildings'.

OS map 1893.jpg

Above, 1893 Ordnance Survey map showing in the centre, the location of the Farme estate and castle. The map seems to support even then, Shearer's prediction of  the castle's demise due to the encroachment of industrialisation.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Farme Castle was demolished in the 1960s, by which time it was being used to store obsolete mining equipment.

'My twin brothers were born in 1939 at 3 Baronald Street. They have memories of playing in the Farme Castle grounds'.

Mairi Maxwell, Vancouver, British Columbia. January 2022.

Now, I’m in a small park in Hallside, out beyond Halfway. I’m not even sure what this park is called, but it’s bounded on the west by Hallside Boulevard, and to the north by Elder Crescent. In this park was the site of Drumsargard Castle. The castle itself is long gone, but according to the Drumsagard Village Residents Association website, I should still be able to see the mound on which the castle stood.

Drumsargard Castle

The Drumsargard Village Residents Association website tells us that Drumsargard village was the site of a 14th century stone castle which towered over the surrounding countryside.

The area was also known as Drumsargart or Drumsargard, meaning 'ridge of the priest'.

Right, the site of Drumsargard Castle, photographed in November 2020 from  Elder Crescent.

Photo: Carrick McDonald

Drumsagard Castle mound from Elder Crescent red.jpg

The castle was made of very heavy stone and built on the site of a much earlier timber fortification on top of an artificial mound which served to keep the fortification above the surrounding land which was prone to flooding. The land originally belonged to John Moray of Drumsagard but Edward I made him forfeit the property in 1306 for supporting Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Independence.

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Above, 1896 Ordnance Survey map georeferenced to show the location today of Drumsargard Castle within Hallside village. Hallside Colliery shown to the east, operated from the 1870s until 1921.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Like Bothwell Castle a few miles to the east, the castle came under the ownership of the Douglas family around 1370. With the demise of the Black Douglas’s family in 1455, Drumsagard was gifted to the Duke of Hamilton by James II. It eventually fell into ruin and by the late 1700s, the last stones of the castle had been removed to build farms around Hallside.

Drumsagard Castle location 2.jpg

As we saw earlier, the remains of Rutherglen castle were similarly recycled around the same time.


The mound on which the castle stood remained largely undisturbed for another century before being eroded over time by agricultural activity.

Left, aerial image from Google Maps showing the site of Drumsargard Castle. The site is bounded by Elder Crescent to the north and Hallside Boulevard to the east.

The name of the barony of Drumsagard which had originated in the reign of Alexander II in the early 1300s was changed to Cambuslang in the 17th century. The Hamiltons retained the land until the 1920s, when it was sold.

Right, photograph from May 2021 of the site of Drumsargard Castle taken from above Hallside Boulevard. 

Photo: Carrick McDonald

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So far, I’ve seen the places where castles used to be. I’m off now to our last port of call where there will be an actual castle for me to look at.

Gilbertfield Castle

The Historic Environment Scotland website describes Gilbertfield as an L-shaped mansion from the early 17th-century.

It had three storeys above a vaulted ground floor, and was built of roughly coursed red and yellow sandstone rubble with grey sandstone dressings. It is thought that the lands of Gilbertfield take their name from Gilbert, the 13th. century Bishop of Caithness, who was part of the Moray family.

Gilbertfield estate, which was part of the Barony of Drumsagard, was bought in 1591 by Sir Gilbert Cunningham of Easter Moffatt. He built the castle at Gilbertfield at the foot of Dechmont Hill in 1607.

Right, the ruin of Gilbertfield Castle photographed from the northeast in January 2022.

Photo: Carrick McDonald

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Above, extract from the 1773 map by Charles Ross of 'the Shire of Lanark taken from an actual survey'. Gilbertfield Castle is shown in the centre with the dark mass of Dechmont Hill just to the south.

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Gilbertfield Castle Cambuslang 1 frame.jpg

One of the heirs to Gilbertfield was John Cunningham. Local church records from 1658 describe him as ‘the old laird’ who ‘constantly absented himself from the kirk.’ The local minister failed to persuade him to attend, so the Presbytery sent the ministers from Blantyre and Kilbride to see if they could prevail upon the ‘old laird’ to attend church, but to no avail. The view at the time was that the old man preferred to wander around the trees which grew in great profusion around Gilbertfield, or to hide away in the castle’s lofty turrets, heedless to the call of the kirk bell.

Left, photo fom the early 1900s of Gilbertfield Castle with Dechmont Hill in the background. 

Image credit: Edward Boyle 

The 'old laird' would have been saddened to learn of the loss of his beloved trees, only fifty years after the times he wandered among them. This is from Extracts from Cambuslang: A Sketch of the Place and the People, Earlier Than the Nineteenth Century by J T T Brown, published in 1884:

'[The castle's] situation can never have been very pleasant, but the surroundings would appear to be rather better now than in 1710, when, according to Hamilton, the trees had all perished, not a twig escaping.'

In 1701, the estate passed into the hands of the Hamiltons of Torrance. Perhaps the most famous member of that family was William Hamilton of Gilbertfield. A soldier like his father, he retired from the army at an early age, the life of the country gent, according to one source, suiting him better than the army. Hamilton found time to write poetry, his work being admired by both Allan Ramsay and Robert Burns. Hamilton is also known for his 'modern' translation of Blind Harry's patriotic (if unreliable) epic, The Life of Sir William Wallace which was written around 1460.

Right, William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, c. 1665 - 1751.

Image credit:

Wm Hamilton of Gilbertfield

After living many years at Gilbertfield, Hamilton moved to Lattrick, on the south side of Dechmont Hill, and died there in 1751.

By the middle 1800s, the castle was in a state of disrepair, but it was inhabited by a gamekeeper called Joseph Kirby. In 1850, Mr. Kirby was shot and killed by an 18 year-old blacksmith from Glasgow called Andrew Forrest who was put on trial for murder, but walked free from court, the jury having returned a not-proven verdict. Forrest’s defence was that he had been set upon by a dog trained by Mr. Kirby to attack trespassers, insisting that he had meant to shoot the dog and not the unfortunate gamekeeper.

Like Farme Castle in Rutherglen, Gilbertfield survived long enough to witness the gradual encroachment of industrialisation. This is from A History of Coal Mining in Rutherglen and Cambuslang,  by Colin Findlay, Bob McDonald and Joe Cunningham:

'It is probable at this time (1870s) that a ventilation shaft (No.3, also named East Greenlees Colliery on the 1896 OS map) had now been sunk, and manpower, some of whom lived at Gilbertfield Castle, accessed the mine workings at this point. This shaft was located beside the farm road between Gilbertfield Road and the Castle.'

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Above, photograph of Gilbertfield Castle, perhaps Edwardian, appearing to confirm reports around that time that the building was complete. The conical-shaped roofed turrets provided small studies, perhaps used as  places of refuge by 'the old laird' John Cunningham, in the mid-17th. century. 

Image credit: Edward Boyle

Evidence of the castle's habitability as late as the late 19th. century comes from architects MacGibbon & Ross, best known today for their comprehensive published surveys of Scotland's architectural heritage.  They recorded the building to be in a complete condition in the 1890s. 

Gilbertfield Castle Cambuslang 3 frame.jpg

In 1916, four men from the Cambuslang area were charged with having maliciously destroyed and pulled down the castle’s south bastion. In their defence the accused claimed to have spotted a stone sticking out from the building's turret, which they thought to be a hazard - so they removed the object with a rope, but they also managed to pull down a mass of other material with it.

Since then, the castle at Gilbertfield has suffered further dilapidation, with the roof falling in and, in the 1950s, the eastern half of the southern wing collapsing.

There were plans in 2020 to preserve the ruin of the castle as a monument and visitor attraction, making it the focal point of a new housing development nearby. 

Left, another view of Gilbertfield Castle. This photograph may have been taken at the same time as the two other colourised images, above, derived from original black and white photographs.

Image credit: Edward Boyle

It is hoped that preservation plans for Gilbertfield, which is a C-listed building, do come to fruition, ensuring that the castle or at least its still impressive remains survive, unlike the other castles of Rutherglen and Cambuslang which, sadly, have been lost forever.

Here Gilbertfield...

Around thy ruin'd castle walls,

And through thy lone, deserted halls,

Where Cheerfulness should laughing stray,

The Muses and the Graces play.

From Dychmont

John Struthers, 1776 – 1853

Right, the ruin of Gilbertfield Castle photographed from the northwest in January 2022

Photo: Carrick McDonald

Gilbertfield Castle from NW 05Jan2022.jpg

Carrick McDonald

© 2022 by Rutherglen Heritage Society. 



1. 'It [the garage] was owned by a Mr. Hamilton who lived to be over 100 years old. He used to sit next to my mum at Rutherglen Baptist Church.' (Jim Campbell).

2. In 1263, Balliol’s father, also John, founded the Oxford college which bears his name.


Thanks to Colin Findlay, Bill Maclennan, John Esslemont, Jim Campbell and Ian Young of Rutherglen Heritage Society and to Zen Boyd of Rutherglen Heritage Centre for their additional information and advice. Also, many thanks to Ed Boyle for his consent to use the photos of Gilbertfield Castle from his archive and for information about those images and the castle itself.

Sources and links

The History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride, Rev. David Ure, 1793

Rutherglen Lore, W. Ross Shearer, 1922. 

Scottish Castles Association website Click here

Historic Environment Scotland website Click here

Rambles Round Glasgow, Hugh MacDonald, 1854.

Reminiscences of Rutherglen & Suburbs, Hugh Muir, 1890.

The Kings & Queens of Scotland, Richard Oram, 2006.

The Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry, J G Smith and J O Mitchell, 1878 Click here

Castle Duncan Forums. Includes architectural drawings of Gilbertfield Castle by MacGibbon & Ross Click here

The Scotsman: May 2020 article about plans to preserve the ruin of Gilbertfield Castle Click here

A History of Coal Mining in Rutherglen and Cambuslang, Colin Findlay, Bob McDonald and Joe Cunningham, 2021

Drumsargard Residents Association website Click here

Edward Boyle photo archive Click here

A Nation in a Parish: A new historical Prospect of Scotland from the Parish of Cambuslang, Duncan Glen, 1995

Historic Rutherglen: The Archaeological Implications of Development. Scottish Burgh Survey, Robert Gourlay and Anne Turner,             Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow, 1978

Wikipedia Click here

Video on YouTube taken from a drone flying over Gilbertfield Castle in 2017. Click here

CamGlen Radio's Listen Again page: contains Halfway to Burgh Local history programmes, including the episode on which this       article is based. Click here

Associated articles on this website

A - Z of Rutherglen Then and Now

Farme Cross

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