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.