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Cumbernauld, Dumbartonshire

Historical Description

CUMBERNAULD, a parish, in the county of DUMBARTON; including the village of Condorat, and containing about 3500 inhabitants, of whom part reside in the village of Cumbernauld, 10 miles (W. S. W.) from Falkirk. This place derives its name of Cumbernauld from a Celtic term signifying a confluence of streams, in reference to the junction of several small streams just below the village. It originally formed a part of Kirkintilloch, or Leinzie, parish, and was disjoined from it in 1649, and erected into a distinct parish, called Easter Leinzie, or Cumbernauld, as distinguished from Wester Leinzie, or Kirkintilloch: the name of Leinzie has been long disused. The Roman wall called Graham's Dyke, with other ancient relics, connects its history with that of the Roman invaders, but nothing is recorded to supply us with any particulars concerning their proceedings in these parts. There was formerly a castle here, and at the close of the thirteenth century the castle and barony belonged to John Cumyn, Earl of Buchan; but they afterwards fell to the crown by the forfeiture of that nobleman. In the fourteenth century they passed to the Flemings, of Biggar and Cumbernauld, who were subsequently created Earls of Wigtown, and rose to considerable importance in the transactions of Scottish history. The barony formerly belonged to Stirlingshire; but in the reign of David II., Malcolm Fleming, sheriff of Dumbarton, obtained its annexation to Dumbartonshire, and the disjunction of several parishes from Dumbarton, and their annexation to Stirling. This arrangement was afterwards disturbed by an act of parliament, in 1503; but the act was repealed, and the settlement effected by Malcolm Fleming permanently established.

The PARISH is situated at the eastern extremity of the shire, and is about eight miles long and from three to four broad, containing about 11,520 acres. Its surface is diversified by a succession of ridges and slopes, and the whole sweep being very considerably above the level of the sea, the climate is sharp and cold. The highest part, called Fannyside-muir, is a deep moss covered with heath, where grouse and black-cock are found; the remainder of the surface is arable and wood, among which game of all kinds is abundant, and in spring the roebuck is frequently to be seen, and sometimes the squirrel. The stream of the Luggie divides the parish from New-Monkland, Lanarkshire, and that of the Kelvin from Kilsyth, Stirlingshire; but they are both of inconsiderable size. They formerly abounded in good fish, but a few trout only are now to be found. The lakes, which were numerous, have been drained, and converted into arable land: the only remaining one is the loch of Fannyside, which covers about seventy acres, and is but a few feet deep; pike and perch are taken in it, and it is visited by flocks of wild-duck and teal. The soil is chiefly a deep clayey loam, tolerably fertile; about 7770 acres are arable, 2700 pasture and moss, 730 in plantations and woods, and the rest roads and water. Within the last thirty years, many improvements have taken place in husbandry by draining and levelling, the use of lime and good dung-manure, and the introduction of green crops. The breed of cows and horses has lately been much attended to; the dairy-farms are very superior, and their chief produce is butter, which is sold at Falkirk and Glasgow. The annual value of real property in the parish is £15,430.

The subsoil is an impervious till, much of which has been advantageously drained. The rocks are whinstone and trap, which mainly compose those numerous ridges whereby the surface is marked. Freestone and limestone are found in large quantities, and a quarry of the former is wrought at Netherwood, near the Forth and Clyde canal; where also, as well as at Cumbernauld, limestone of excellent quality is obtained. The freestone is chiefly used in building. Coal is found in several places, especially near the freestone-quarry at the Hirst; and on the farm of Westerwood is a mine of ironstone, let to the Carron Company. The mansion of Cumbernauld, the ancient seat of the Flemings, is surrounded by fine plantations, some of the trees of which are holly of a large size and imposing appearance. Here and in many other parts, oak, ash, lime, chesnut, elm, beech, and plane diversify the scenery, and are in a flourishing condition. The village of Cumbernauld, which contains nearly one-half the population of the parish, was created a burgh of barony in 1649; it has a fair in May, at which there is a considerable traffic in cattle. About one-fifth of the population is employed in cotton-weaving, 560 looms being at work in the parish; but during the fluctuations to which the trade is exposed, many of the hands obtain support by labouring in the coal and iron mines. There is a post-office under Glasgow; and the mail by Crieff, and coaches to Perth, Edinburgh, Alloa, and Stirling, formerly passed daily to and from Glasgow. Great facility of intercourse is now afforded by the Edinburgh and Glasgow and the Caledonian railways.

For ECCLESIASTICAL purposes the parish is within the bounds of the presbytery of Glasgow, synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The minister's stipend is under £230, and John Elphinstone Fleming, Esq., is patron: there is a manse, built in 1827, with a glebe valued at £17. 10. per annum. Cumbernauld church is situated in the village, in the centre of the parish, and is an old, inconvenient, and uncomfortable building; it contains 650 sittings. There are also places of worship for members of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Synod. A parochial school is held, the master of which has a salary of £25, with house and garden, and £26 fees. The village has a good subscription library, consisting of 1200 volumes; a savings' bank, established in 1815; and a society of masons. The late Viscount Keith bequeathed £90, the interest to be divided among the poor on the 1st of January. The chief relic of antiquity is Graham's Dyke, part of which runs through the parish. Traces of an old Roman road may be seen in the moss of Fannyside; and in the vicinity of Cumbernauld House is an elevation called the Towe Hill, where in ancient times the feudal baron held his court. In the formation of the Forth and Clyde canal, which runs through the bog of Dullatur, many warlike instruments were found, with the bodies of men, among which was a trooper, completely armed, and sitting upright on horseback, exactly in the position in which he had perished. He is thought to have belonged to Baillie's army, when that general fought the Marquess of Montrose, 15th of August, 1645; and in his flight is supposed to have ridden accidentally into the bog.

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