THE old, and, probably, the first edifice of the Mains, stood about 70 yards north of the tower, and is now lying in ruins. The fossa within which it was inclosed is more perfect, and much larger than the one round the castle.
AN aged Yew, which stands a few yards to the south-east of the Mains, is the only tree worthy of notice about the place. The trunk is 5 feet in circumference, and 10 feet high; the branches into which it divides itself rise to a considerable height, and extend over a large space of ground. What contributed greatly to the beauty, and, at the same time, to the grandeur of the Mains was an artificial lake, a little to the south of the tower. It covered a space of about 20 acres. A small island, composed of earth and stones, was raised in the middle of the lake; which, besides beautifying the scene, afforded a safe retreat for the water-fowl with which the place abounded. This little eminence is now covered with planting; and, instead of being the pride of the lake, is become a useful ornament to a rich an extensive meadow, in which, since the water was drained off, it now stands.
THE castle, the age of which is unknown, was probably built by the Cummins before the reign of King R. Bruce. At that period nearly two thirds of the lands of Kilbride belonged to that powerful family. But the whole was forfeited by the treachery of John Cummin, whom Bruce killed at Dumfries. They were afterwards, in the year 1382, given to John Lindsay of Dunrode, successor to James Lindsay, who assisted the King in killing the traitor, at the altar. This family preferring the Mains to Dunrode, their ancient family-seat, near Gourock, took up their residence in Kilbride. They flourished in great wealth and splendour till a little more than a century ago, when the estate was sold to pay the debt which the extravagance of its owner forced him to contract. The Mains, with a few adjoining farms, belongs at present to Alexander Stuart, Esq; of Torrance.
THIS ancient building hath now undergone a very great change: for, instead of being the well-fortified habitation of a powerful and splendid family, it is converted into a pigeon-house. It is reported, that the last proprietor, in the Dunrode family, greatly exceeded all his predecessors in haughtiness, oppression, and every kind of vice. He seldom went from home unless attended by twelve vassals, well mounted on white steeds. Among the instances of his cruelty, itis told, that, when playing on the ice, he ordered a hole to be made in it, and one of his vassals, who had inadvertently disobliged him in some trifling circumstance, immediately to be drowned. The place hath ever since been called Crawford’s hole, from the name of the man who perished in it. Tradition mentions this cruel action as a cause, in the just judgment of God, that gave rise to his downfall. In a short while after, it is reported, his pride was brought very low. this haughty chieftain was, at length, forced by penury to apply for charity to the tenants, and domestics he had formerly oppressed. We have reason to believe that they would not give a very kind reception to so cruel and overbearing a tyrant. It is told, that, having worn out the remains of a wretched life, he died in one of their barns. Such was the miserable end of one of the greatest, and most opulent families in this country.
TO the Lindsays belonged also the lands of Basket, and the castle of Crossbasket, in the vicinity of Blantyre. This ancient building, the age of which is not known, was the jointure-house of the family of the Mains, but is now the property of Capt. Thomas Peter of Crossbasket. It is about 54 feet high, 38 long, and 22 broad. The whole is kept in good repair. A commodious dwelling-house, of a modern construction, is built close to the east end of the tower. The situation is pleasant and healthful. Considerable attention had once been paid to the gardens and inclosures; but they have, for some time past, been greatly neglected. Soon, however, will they put on a quite different appearance, when the Captain shall have finished the improvements he has begun to make on the estate.
THE word Crossbasket is derived from a Cross that stood at a small distance from the tower, and in the lands of Basket. Near the foot of this religious monument was a sacred Font. Both were of stone. On the font was a long inscription, but so much obliterated that the characters have not been legible, more than a century past. These hallowed remains of superstition, like many of the greatest monuments of antiquity, fell, about 50 years ago , a sacrifice to avarice and ignorance: and report says, that the person who destroyed them, never after did well.
ABOUT a mile south from Crossbasket, and on the banks of Calder, stands the house of Calderwood, the seat of Sir William Maxwell of Calderwood, Bart. The estate came into the family of Maxwell by a marriage of Eumerus, or Homerus de Carlaveroc, a cadet of the family of Nithsdale, with Mary, daughter and heiress of Roland de Mernis, in the reign of Alexander III. Sir Robert Maxwell, second son of Eumerus, was, in his father’s lifetime, designed by the title of Calderwood; and from him the present Sir William Maxwell is lineally descended.
CLOSE to the mansion-house stood the castle of Calderwood, the date of which is not known. It was 87½ feet in height; 69 in length; and 40 in breadth. The rock upon which it stood was 60 feet perpendicular. A great part of the tower fell, of its own accord, on the 23d of January, 1773. The downfall of that ancient edifice, did not induce the family to abandon a spot, which nature had been pleased to decorate with a great variety of her undisguised beauties. The ruins were, without loss of time, converted into a modern building.
ALTHOUGH the situation of Calderwood is low, in comparison of the ground adjacent, and although the prospect from the house is greatly confined, yet the place is not unhealthy or unpleasant. It is surrounded with banks through which the Calder, in a variety of beautiful meanders, takes its course. A delightful cascade, formed by nature, fronts the house, at the distance of about 200 yards. The fall, which is interrupted by small breaks, renders the landscape exceedingly agreeable. The scene in general, being a mixture of the GRAND, the ROMANTIC, and BEAUTIFUL, would, in ancient poetry, have been celebrated as the inchanted abodes of the rural Deities. That a spot like this, surrounded with so many natural beauties, should have been fixed upon, at a very early period, for the seat of a rich and honourable family, is a proof of the good taste of the first builder of Calderwood Castle.
TWO miles south from Calderwood stood the ancient house of Torrance. It was reduced to ruins near two centuries ago, and nothing of it now remains but some scattered rubbish. Adjoining to the ruins is a Holly-tree, which hath survived the downfall of the house. This aged, but living monument, is one of the most remarkable trees in the parish. It is very tall, and covers an area of about 30 feet in diameter. Near a foot from the ground it divides itself into four branches; the least of which is, in circumference, 25 inches; another is 31; the next largest is 37; and the largest of all is 41: the circumference of the trunk, below the branches, measures 6 feet 10 inches.
THE name Torrance, which is derived from Tor, a little hill, is taken from an artificial mound of earth, still known by the name of the Tor, and which is situated about a quarter of a mile from the house. It is about 160 yards round the base, and 20 of ascent. The area on the top is oval.
THE present edifice was built in 1605, when the estate of Torrance belonged to the Hamiltons, cadets of the family of Hamilton. It was sold, about the middle of the last century, to the Stuarts of the family of Castelmilk. The present proprietor, Alexander Stuart of Torrance, Esq; is the great-grandson of James Stuart of Torrance, the original purchaser, who was brother to Sir Archibald Stuart of Castelmilk, the ancestor of the present Sir John Stuart of Castelmilk, Baronet. They were the two only sons of a Sir Archibald Stuart of Castelmilk, Cassiltoun, and Fynnart-Stewart, who married Ann, eldest daughter of Robert, Lord Sempil; which Sir Archibald Stuart was the heir male, lineally descended from Matthew Stuart of Castelmilk, Cassiltoun, and Fynnart-Stewart, who died in the year 1474; and of whom mention is made in various original deeds still extant.
THIS Matthew Stuart was the son of Sir William Stuart of Castelmilk, who is mentioned in Rymer’s Fædera Angliæ as one of the sureties given, on the part of Scotland, in the year 1398, for the preservation of the peace of the Western Marches between England and Scotland; which Sir William Stuart was the brother of Sir John Stuart of Darnley. these two brothers, during the reign of James I. of Scotland, went over to France, to the assistance of Charles VII. where they performed many gallant actions, and rendered such signal services to that Monarch, and the kingdom of France, that they are mentioned with high encomiums by many historians of those times: and Sir John Stuart of Darnley, the elder brother, received from Charles VII. the Lordship and estate of Aubigny in the province of Berry in France; with many other marks of distinction.
BOTH these brothers, Sir John Stuart of Darnley, and Sir William Stuart of Castelmilk, were killed on the day of February, 1429, at the battle fought that day, near to Orleans, during the famous siege of that place.
CASTELMILK, of which a view from the south east is here given, is situated on the northern declivity of Cathkin hills, in the parish of Carmunnock, about a mile and a quarter from the town of Rutherglen. It is the family-seat of Sir John Stuart of Castelmilk, Baronet. This ancient place was, for centuries past, called Castletown, or Casseltown, but now more frequently Castlemilk, or Castelmilk, from the Castle of Milk, a river in Anandale, in the county of Dumfries: which castle was anciently possessed by Sir John’s ancestors. The old building, the age of which is not known, is pretty large, and of a very ancient construction. The walls are extremely thick, and terminate above in a strong battlement. Originally the windows were few, and narrow, and the stairs very strait. The whole building is kept in excellent repair, and contains not a few commodious apartments. The most remarkable is one that goes under the name of Queen Mary’s room, because, (as report says) her Majesty lodged in it the night before the battle of Langside. The ceiling of this memorable room is ornamented with the Arms of the Kings of Scotland, in the Stuart line, and with the Arms of all the crowned heads of Europe with whom the Stuarts were connected. Several additions have been made to the house by which it is rendered very commodious. The pleasure grounds have lately been laid out to the best advantage. Few places in Scotland enjoy a more agreeable situation. It commands a prospect, which, for a mixed variety of extensive, majestic, rich and beautiful objects, is probably not equalled any where in Scotland; as it takes in the city of Glasgow, with the strath of Clyde, filled with prospering manufactures; whilst the vast and far distant mountains of Lennox, Argyle, Perthshire, &c. mingling with the sky, terminate the view.
IN the beginning of Summer, 1792, the following pieces of antiquity were found buried in a field adjoining to Castelmilk. 1. An antique Helmet of iron, pl. III. fig. 1. It measures from top to bottom, 11 inches: from the face to the back, 16: from side to side, 9½: the opening for the light is 5¼ long on each side. The metal on the face is much thicker than on the back, which, in the side exposed to view in the figure, is not entire, owing apparently to corrosion. It weighs 13 lb. 2 ounces, avoirdupois. 2. A Neckpiece, likewise of iron, fig.2: it is 5¾ inches deep at the back, and 7 at the face: 11 from the face to the back, at the bottom; but only 9 at the top: it is 10½ in width, and weighs 4 lb. 10 oz. Part of one of the corners on the upper side is corroded away. In each corner was a small slit, to receive a thong or chain for making it fast behind. 3. A camp Oven, of copper, fig. 3. It is much worn, and corroded: it is 2 feet 5½ inches wide at the mouth, and 1 foot 6 inches deep: a ring of iron goes round the brim, by which ring it was suspended, by means of another ring or bool of iron, part of which yet remains. 4. A camp Kettle, fig. 4. It is of a mixed metal, the greatest proportion of which is copper: it had been cast into its present shape, and stands on three feet. It is much worn, and some parts of it have been mended wit pieces of copper: one of the handles is broken, and there is a wide rent on one side. The dimensions are not so large as those of the oven. 5. A Dagger of steel, fig. 5. It is exactly square below the handle, but towards the point it spreads out, and becomes thinner, and then gradually tapers into a sharp point. the length of the ornament above the handle is 2½ inches: the length of the handle, which is six-sided, is 3¼ and 1½ in thickness: the length of the blade 22, its thickness below the handle ¾, but at the broadest 1 inch. It is greatly rusted. 6. A fragment of a leaden Vase, fig. 6. It is about 6 inches long at the mouth, and 3¾ deep: it is ornamented with the rude shape of a heart, and a few faint lines. Besides the above, were also found pieces of Leathern Belts, richly ornamented with studs of brass. The whole was found among very dry sand, which no doubt contributed to their preservation. It is known that leather, when well tanned, will, if kept dry, retain its texture and toughness for many ages. The rust, on some parts of the iron, is swelled up into small protuberances, resembling that kind of ætites in which the nucleus is wanting. The tunica is considerably thick, and seems to be composed of very fine lamellæ. These protuberances must have taken their present shape and consistency, during the evaporation of the rust, when in a liquid state: for as the water, containing the iron, would be absorbed into the atmospheric air, the ferruginous particles, being left behind, would be consolidated into the form of concentric lamellæ. Their emptiness seems to be owing to the homogenous quality of the iron rust; for had sand or clay been suspended in the liquid, we have reason to think that they would have been left behind by the more minute metallic particles, and would have formed a nucleus below the ferruginous tunicæ. This might help to explain some phenomena in the formation of ætites, and other metallic cystallizations; and might help to prove that many of these bodies were formed during a transition from a state of fluidity, by a menstruum, to a state of dryness, by evaporation.