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You are here: Information & HistoryEnvironment - Preservation

Avondale SSSI
Rights of Way
Environment - Preservation Projects
Preservation Projects
St. Anthony's Holy Well
Old Kirk Yard and St. Ninian's Bell Tower
Memorial Fountain

Preservation Projects
Of all the most satisfying achievements, in establishing the Heritage Group, the most rewarding and important have been the restoration and recording of our historic sites.

Time, weather and vandalism have taken their toll on many of our monuments, while others have been destroyed, or dismantled to rebuild other structures. These sites are valuable historical evidence of our long and eventful history as a community and provide us with the opportunity to understand and learn of our development in rural Lanarkshire. Other sites such as Double Dykes remain to be properly investigated to establish their significance in the wider context of Scottish history.

In today’s society there would appear to be a greater awareness of environmental issues and our cultural background. However, this does not always mean there is any greater respect of such. Over the past twenty years we have experienced several incidents of vandalism to our most well known monuments, such as the bandstand, the memorial fountain and the graveyard. Many of the gravestones in the old kirk yard have been damaged beyond repair, preventing their recording and causing great distress to the families concerned. The location of the old kirk yard and indeed the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park make policing these sites extremely difficult to monitor. It would appear the primary solution would be to educate and instill pride in our heritage from an early age, encouraging children to respect and learn of their villages landmarks. To this end I have been invited to Newfield Primary since 1994 to give presentations on our heritage as part of the childrens village study project.

St. Anthony’s Holy Well
The first preservation project I became involved in was that of St.Anthony’s Holy well, within the private grounds of Spital House. On a personal visit to the site, the former owners informed me the well had dried up in the late 1970’s. It was suspected this had been the result of boring during the survey undertaken for the proposed Stonehouse New Town.

Of early pagan origin, the well had also suffered considerable damage through vandalism and neglect, which the then owners were not able to restore or maintain, due to their elderly years. The well was said to have once been under the ownership of a convent of nuns, though I can find no written evidence to support this. The only clue that may support this theory is the remains of two, small, broken pieces of sculpture. The first being a gothic style sandstone piece of architecture and the second being the foot of a religious figure, presumably St.Anthony, both of which I was informed were both incorporated into the Holy well, when the elderly couple moved to the property.

Extremely overgrown, the Heritage Group financed and restored the well, preserving its existence for the next decade at least.

Old Kirk Yard and St. Ninian’s Bell Tower
Stonehouse was witness to the national plague of unwarranted and shameful vandalism of graveyards, when around 100-200 headstones were pushed over in the old kirk yard, including the Covenanters memorial stone of James Thomson. With the financial assistance of the Heritage Group and the services of ‘Headstart’ of the former Hamilton District Council, a project was initiated to restore the graveyard and clean many of the decaying stones. Headstart supplied the knowledge and manpower needed in raising the stones manually due to the soft ground and lack of access for machinery.

The project proved to be a success, though some stones have suffered at the hands of the vandals since. As a result of the abuse and deterioration, I initiated a project in 1999 to record all the stones for future research and interest.

In 1994 I reported the poor condition and potential safety threat of the deteriorating St.Ninian’s bell tower to the council. With the assistance of Councillor Dick Gibb and Hamilton District Council Planning Department, finances amounting to £13,000 were identified from the council budget, to stabilise the ‘B’ listed bell tower and its decaying stonework. The work was carried out in 1996 using traditional materials, of sandstone and lime based mortar to complement the original structure. Last restored in 1734, the remains of the old kirk are probably the most recognised historic site in the parish.

Memorial Fountain
Not so old, but none the less important, the fountain became the target of vandalism in the late 1970’s, until it was recently restored in 1998. Through perseverance and communication with Hamilton District Council and the newly formed South Lanarkshire Council, the fountain regained its stature as one of only two original features in the public park. Unfortunately the park is still a far cry from its former glory as one of Lanarkshires foremost tourist attractions.

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