Rutherglen's Royalty Boundary Stones
© 2013 by Rutherglen Heritage Society.
Rutherglen Heritage Society has been involved in a project to
identify and record the remaining boundary or ‘march’ stones in
The stones were originally erected around the royalty
boundary of the burgh to mark its territory and maintain its identity.
According to tradition, every new burgess (a citizen granted privileges in
the burgh) was required to provide, at their own expense, a boundary
stone marked with their initials and the year.
The oldest stone, known only from photographs, was dated 1574.
Many stones are marked with a letter ‘R’ for Rutherglen. The size and style of
the stones vary a great deal, although stones erected in the same year are often very similar.
These stones are typical of those known from 1876 (below left) and 1885 (below right).
The boundary and stones were inspected by the Provost, magistrates and
burgh ofﬁcials at least once every three years. The ﬁrst record of this
inspection is from 1664 and it became known as the Redding or Riding of
the Marches, later taking place on Landemer Day. Any stones found to be
missing or damaged would be ordered to be replaced.
Historical records reveal that at one time there were 370 stones, but only
130 had survived by the 195Os. This number had reduced to around 70
by 1974 and by 1983 only 57 stones were known to be in situ, with
another 5 having been taken into the museum collections to ensure their
preservation. Stones were sited all over the burgh often following natural
features such as burns. Many of the remaining stones now sit in church
grounds, commercial premises or private gardens.
A stone incorporated into the bridge in Bogleshole Road.
Another stone sits next to the bus stop in Cambuslang Road
Some of the stones have sunk low in the ground and can be difﬁcult to
trace. Members of the Heritage Society have excavated 4 of the stones to
reveal inscribed dates and names.
Above, a stone from 1885 near Larchﬁeld Drive before and after excavation.
The name on the stone is R. Cross who was a grocer on Main Street. He later emigrated to Canada.
Heritage Society members used old maps and written records, such as the
council minutes and old copies of the Reformer, to help identify the
locations of boundary stones. These sources continue to provide valuable
information on the stones, the burgesses who erected them and the riding
of the marches.
The project on the boundary stones has been supported by
the West of Scotland Archaeological Service and information gathered on
the stones will be included in their database. There is still a huge amount
of research to undertake and we are hopeful that more existing stones will
A paper produced by West of Scotland Archaeology Service (WoSAS) about our Boundary Stones project
WoSAS Pins 9283 and 9284, image copyright Rutherglen Heritage Society
WoSAS Pin 9287, image copyright Rutherglen Heritage Society
In 2011, the West of Scotland Archaeology Service was approached by members of the newly-formed Rutherglen Heritage Group, who were working with the Museum
Service of South Lanarkshire Council to develop a project to locate, photograph and record all of the surviving boundary stones marking the limits of the medieval royal
burgh of Rutherglen.
Rutherglen is believed to have been made a royal burgh by King David I (1124-1153), meaning that it is older than its nearby neighbour, the baronial burgh of Glasgow.
The town's royal status did not ensure its prosperity however, and it was soon eclipsed economically by Glasgow. Nevertheless, throughout its history the town remained
fiercely protective of its independence, and erected a large number of boundary stones to physically delineate the burgh lands as a means of asserting its separate trading
rights and distinct identity.
WoSAS Pin 9293, image copyright Rutherglen Heritage Society
The system of burgh boundary stones was vigorously maintained into the latter part of the nineteenth century, but suffered from increasing neglect and erosion during the
succeeding century. Records indicate that at one time there were around 370 stones, but only 130 had survived by the 1950s. Fifty-seven stones were known to exist in the
1980s, but the Heritage Group hoped to establish how many were still standing, and to record their exact locations. As part of the project, staff from the Archaeology
Service provided members of the Heritage Group information and assistance, in the form of detailed maps and site reports on the recorded locations of known stones, and
advice on recording techniques.
The Heritage Group has recently completed the first stage of the project, and has located, described, photographed and mapped 60 stones.
While some of those recorded in the 1980s could not be found, 14 previously-unrecorded examples were identified, and information on these, along with updated details for
the other stones, will be integrated back into the HER to ensure that these locally important monuments are protected into the future. The photographs on this page
illustrate some of the different styles of stone identified during the course of the survey.
Boundary Stones by Richard Brown, 2001
…..These boundaries are distinguished by march stones, set at small distances from each other. In some places there are two rows, about seven feet distant……
From ‘The History of Rutherglen”
On this site there are two march, or boundary, stones which in the past were used as markers to define the legal limits of the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen. The carved stones sited here (in part inspired by the drawings and ideas of local school children) represent the history of the Burgh and the Farme Cross area from its inception to the present day as follows:
1. A sword with the crest of the Burgh as the pommel, representing the granting of ‘Royal Burgh’ status in 1126 and the event of parliament sitting in Rutherglen in 1300.
2. A rope leads from a pit-wheel, through river paddle steamers, to a spinning wheel producing a spray of woven cloth. These images represent the varied industry of the area from mining, rope making and ship building through to weaving and dye work.
3. A spark-plug, with road detail behind, in reference to the site’s former use as a garage, the areas connection with taxi firms and its position as a gateway to and from Glasgow.
4. The future is symbolised by an ‘exploded’ atom and a DNA double helix strand; referring to advances in medical and biological science. A circuit board design and ‘netted’ Globe relate to international communications and the World Wide Web.
An Environmental Improvement/Public Art Partnership between:
Scottish Enterprise Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Council.
More from WoSAS about three 1885 Stones
Details of three similar boundary stones from 1885
West of Scotland Archaeology service no.
9287 inscribed 1885 R CROSS. Located at west
end of Larchfield Drive adjacent to the SW
corner of the electricity substation enclosure.
Robert Cross was admitted as a burgess in
1883-4. He was listed as a grocer living at 77
mill St in the 1881 census and as a wine and
spirit merchant at 96 Main St and 26 Stonelaw
St in the 1901 Glasgow and Lanark Trades’
WOSAS no. 9469 inscribed 1885 A BAIRD.
Located in wooded area north of the Bourtree
Burn behind Kingsburn Drive. Archibald Baird
was admitted as a burgess in 1877-8 and was
senior baillie in 1890. He is listed as a
councillor and dairyman, living at Canada
Cottage (on Cathcart Road) in the 1881 census.
In 1891 he is listed as a magistrate and
WOSAS no 9477 inscribed R 1885 R LANG.
Located west of Kingsburn Grove Bridge on
north side of Bourtree Burn. Robert Lang was
admitted as a burgess in 1873-4 and to the
The 1861 census lists him as a tailor and
clothier living at 33 New Street. In 1881 he was
a councillor and clothier at 34 Glasgow Road.
The 1901 Glasgow and Lanark Trades’
Directory lists Robert Lang and Son as tailors
and clothiers at 145 Main Street
Two Boundary Stones at Farme Cross
Above, boundary stone dated 1709. South end of Smith Terrace/Willie Ross Lane
Above, boundary stone, probably 1885, at 22 Millar Terrace