Inspection every two years of the boundary stones known to remain in place around Rutherglen's ancient Royalty boundary has been one of the principal responsibilities taken on by the Heritage Society since its inception.
Ancient tradition required each new Burgess appointed by the Royal Burgh to provide a boundary stone, marked with his initials and the year of his appointment, to be set in place at a point on the Royalty boundary.
Delayed by the Covid pandemic, the latest survey was completed over four days between November last and March this year, those days being determined by the weather and the available free time of Heritage Society's members to complete the task.
This boundary stone in Snaefell Avenue, visited on 22nd. November 2022, is well maintained with the letter 'R' for Rutherglen and the date it was laid - 1876, both very clearly defined. .
Industrial, housing and road development over time has obscured much of the old Royalty boundary, resulting in the few boundary stones which remain often finding themselves in locations such as back gardens and in the yards of industrial units.
In areas where the boundary is still clearly defined by local burns, boundary stones can fall into the burn, sink into the wet ground or become obscured by vegetation or fallen trees.
On the edge of the Bourtree Burn, this stone sits trapped under the trunk of a fallen tree. The stone bears the initials 'JRG' and is thought to have been placed in 1876 by John R. Gray, partner in the firm of King & Gray which ran the Avonbank Power Loom Factory, a reminder of Rutherglen's Victorian industrial heritage. In 1871, the factory employed 298 females, 32 men and 8 boys. This stone was visited on 22nd. November 2022.
Our latest survey confirmed the loss of an 1851 stone from a property in Hamilton Road where builders working there did not recognise the significance of the stone and threw it in a skip.
Actual sight of some of the stones is not always possible during surveys due to sites being covered by fallen tree branches, briars, etc. or where access to private properties is not possible. In these situations, we continue to regard these stones as still being in place.
We only regard a stone as lost when we access the known location and are satisfied as far as possible that the stone is no longer there. We know where the stones are or should be, but we can't always get to see them.
Left, Heritage Society member John Esslemont inspects the 1853 boundary stone on the north side of the Bourtree Burn in Glenfarg Road. This was one of several stones visited on 22nd. November 2022.
At one time there were 370 boundary stones known to be in place around the town. That number has now reduced to 62, including 5 held at Low Parks Museum, Hamilton.
The oldest stone we inspected this time dated from 1685.
Right, boundary stone placed by Archibald Baird in 1885 near the Bourtree Burn. The engraving 'A. BAIRD' is clearly visible on the base.
Born around 1843, Mr. Baird was at various times a dairyman, a baillie, a councillor and Burgh Treasurer. He was married to Janet Baird and lived at 34 Glasgow Road and previously at Canada Cottage.
This stone was inspected on 8th. March, when a great deal of moss was removed from it!
We will carry out our next survey of the boundary stones in two years time.
Thanks very much to those Rutherglen householders who allowed us access to inspect the boundary stones on their properties. Their cooperation is much appreciated.
To find out more about Rutherglen's boundary stones, click on the links below.
Text and photographs by Carrick McDonald
© 2023 by Rutherglen Heritage Society.
Associated pages on this website:
The Jasper Brown Boundary Stones Project Click here
Rutherglen's Royalty Boundary Stones Click here
Searching for Boundary Stones in Toryglen Click here
Google map showing boundary stones locations Click here