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Baldernock, Stirlingshire

Historical Description

BALDERNOCK, a parish, in the county of Stirling, 7 miles (N.) from Glasgow; containing, with the villages of Balmore, Barraston, and Fluchter, about 800 inhabitants. The name is corrupted, as is supposed, from the Celtic term Baldruinick, signifying "Druid's town"; an opinion which receives strong support from the numerous remains found here, pertaining to the ancient order of Druids. This parish, of which the eastern half was in that of Campsie till 1649, is situated at the southern extremity of the county, where it is bounded by the river Kelvin, which flows towards the west; and by the Allander, a tributary of the Kelvin. It comprehends 3800 acres, of which 3100 are under cultivation or in pasture, 240 in wood, and the remainder occupied by roads and water. About equal parts are appropriated for grain, green crops, &c.; and for pasture. The surface is greatly diversified, consisting of three distinct portions succeeding each other on a gradual rise from south to north; each varying exceedingly from the others in soil, produce, and scenery; and the whole circumscribed by an outline somewhat irregular, but approaching in form to a square, the sides severally measuring about two miles. The northern tract, situated at an elevation of 300 feet above the sea, and embracing fine views in all directions, contains a few isolated spots under tillage, surrounded by moss land, with a light sharp soil incumbent on whinstone. Below this, the surface of the second tract assumes an entirely different appearance, being marked by many beautifully picturesque knolls, and having a clayey soil resting on a tilly retentive subsoil. To this portion succeeds the lowest land in the parish, and by far the richest, comprising 700 or 800 acres along the bank of the river Kelvin, formed of a soil of dark loam, supposed to have been washed down gradually from the higher grounds: this division is called the Balmore haughs.

Oats and barley are the prevailing crops of grain, and all the ordinary green crops are raised: little wheat is grown. Draining is extensively carried on, but there is still much land in want of this necessary process. The inundations from the river Kelvin, formerly often destructive to the crops on the lower grounds, are now to a great extent prevented by a strong embankment, and by a tunnel at the entrance of a tributary of the river, by which the torrents that once poured forth, in rainy weather, uncontrolled, are so checked as to obviate danger. The annual value of real property in the parish is £5713. The rock consists of trap in the southern and midland portions; but in the northern district limestone, ironstone, pyrites, alum, and fire-clay are abundant: there are lime-works, collieries, and an alumwork, in the parish, all in the neighbourhood of Barraston. Iron-ore has lately been discovered in the coalmines of Barraston, unlike the common argillaceous kind formerly known to exist; it consists of a mixture of iron with carbonaceous substances, similar to that found in the mines near Airdrie, but no iron is wrought in the parish. The coal and limestone that have been obtained, for 150 years, from this locality, lie in beds from three to four feet thick, and from twelve to twenty-four feet under the surface, the superincumbent strata being formed of argillaceous slate, calcareous freestone, and ironstone: the lime is excellent, and sent in large quantities to Glasgow and many other places in the country. Bardowie, a very ancient mansion, once fortified, and a considerable part of which is now modernised, is ornamented in front with a beautiful loch a mile long: it is the seat of the chief of the clan Buchanan. Towards the north-west of the parish, on an eminence, are the remains of a tower once a family-mansion; near this is the seat of Craigmaddie, and, in another direction, the mansion of Glenorchard. The parish is traversed by a high road from east to west, and the Forth and Clyde canal passes within a small distance of the south-eastern boundary. A fair used to be held in the summer for cattle and horses, but it has fallen into disuse.

Baldernock is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Dumbarton, synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and in the patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is about £157, part of which is received from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £19 per annum. The church is a plain edifice, built in 1795, and contains 406 sittings. There is a place of worship for members of the Free Church. The parochial school affords instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4., and the fees. In the vicinity of Blochairn farm, near which a battle is said to have been fought with the Danes, are several cairns, and, not far from these, three stones called "the Auld Wives' Lifts", supposed to be Druidical.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis