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General History

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General History - Pre-History    
Cists of Patrickholm    
The Glesart Stanes

Cists of Patrickholm
In the Autumn of 1947 four prehistoric burial sites of the Middle Bronze Age were discovered at Patrickholm sand quarry. They were found on the West side of the river Avon, 420 feet above sea level near the Larkhall viaduct. The site was found when workmen at Patrickholm came upon some large stone slabs of a cist (stone coffin).
Cist number one was about five feet below ground level measuring about five feet in length. Inside the cist were found two fragments of human bones, part of a skull, part of the lower end of a femur of an adult and a food vessel. The urn, which is in excellent condition, measures about four and a half inches in height and highly ornamented. Six to eight feet from the first burial site a number of cremated bones of humans were found, but no cist. The bones were thought to have been of a youth between 12-20 years of age and a young adult. Amongst the bones and the sand a small piece of flint was found.
An unusually small cist measuring two feet by one foot was uncovered full of cremated bones. Like the first cist it was formed with stone slabs. It too had a great number of bones of at least four individuals, one adult, a younger adult and two children 7-12 years of age. Among the finds within the cist were a small flint flake, a piece of ironstone, a stone bead and three human bone beads, all cylindrical and probably remnants of a necklace.
A third cist of about four feet in length was discovered when accidentally broken by sand diggers using their picks and spades without realising what it was. A second food vessel was found within, again highly ornamented probably using a toothcomb. Inside the vessel was a well preserved molar, one incisor crown and pure brown sand. Also found within the vessel were bone fragments and a small piece of flint. This excavation is particularly interesting because family groups are rare in Bronze Age cists. The date of this site can be estimated at around 2000BC. The urns found at the Patrickholm site were donated to the National Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh by the owner of the quarry at that time, Mr McNeil Hamilton.
The ruins of Patrickholm House still stand near the site of the cists, though continuing land improvements may put an end to the house where many past landlords of Stonehouse once resided.

The Glesart Stanes
Although these standing stones lie just outside our parish boundary near Glassford, they cannot go without mention. If stones were ever located at the old kirk cemetery, they probably resembled these stones. It is also possible that other stones may have stood throughout the surrounding area, but land improvement over the centuries would have seen these being removed.
The ‘Glesart Stanes’ lie near Avonholm near the Avon on a hill surrounded by a cluster of trees including oak and holly. These two trees are of particular interest. Oak was the most sacred of trees to the pagan religion, said to have the powers of fending off lightning to curing toothache, while holly was used to keep out evil influences.
The standing stones stand about six feet apart, three feet high, three feet broad and made of sandstone. Two have their backs to the East and the third, not parallel to the others, has its back to the South-East. There is no indication of a circle, as it is more common in this area of Scotland for standing stones to either be singular or in a trio of stones. There are vertical grooves on two of the stones, while the centre stone has a cup mark, below which is a faint circle one foot in diameter. They stand on a long, narrow strip of land with low earthen walls on either side. These view from the stones give a wonderful panoramic view of the river Avon and Stonehouse.
You will also find the graves of the Struthers of Avonholm buried at this spot, along with their pet dogs Blanche and Heidi. This place obviously held fond memories to the family and comforting to have chosen this site as their final resting place. The purpose of the stones themselves, we can only guess, if only to remind us of our pagan ancestors. They now stand in peace, untouched by the progress of time, in an ever changing environment. In the tranquillity of the Avon Valley who is to say the stones won’t endure
another two thousand years.

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