The Kirklands Area of Edenkill

The Old Cottages in Kirklands with the Spout of Ballagan behind
The old cottages in Kirklands with the Spout of Ballagan behind. Guthrie Smith 18th century.

According to Guthrie Smith the Kirklands of Strathblane extend to a ten pound land of old extent and includes the mailings or farms of the Kirklands of which the modern farms of Muirhouse and Hillhead are parts, Braidgate (Broadgate), Vicarland, Hole Poffle, Macbrew, and Mill of Ballagan, mill lands, multures and sequels. The Kirklands also contained of old the lands of Easter and Wester Ballagan, both forty shilling lands.

The earliest mention of Kirklands is when King Robert 1 confirmed to "the master, brethren and sisters of the hospital of Polmadie all the privileges and exemptions from service they possessed in the time of King Alexander, his predecessor, both as regarded themselves and the land of Strathblane - terra de Strathblathy - a pertinent of the Church of Strathblane, and held by them along with it." The date of this charter was the 28th May 1316.

Guthrie Smith also relates this story of James Stirling of Craigbarnet, who was known as "Old Burrie" because of a speech impediment. After the 1745 rebellion he was taken prisoner and held in Dumbarton Castle, from where he escaped one week after capture. He did not return to Craigbarnet but hid in the one of the cottages in Kirklands occasionally disguising himself as an old woman with a spinning wheel. There are many stories told too of Bonnie Prince Charles in Strathblane and the neighbourhood. He is said to have passed a few days in the old castle of Craigbarnet and when there to have presented his friend a claymore and a waistcoat, said to have been worked by Flora MacDonald. There is a story, too ,that the prince was concealed at one time in the attic of "Burrie's" Cottage in the Kirklands. To quote Guthrie Smith - whether these stories are likely or not is for the reader to decide.

The Kirklands were gradually divided up over the years. By 1883 the main areas had all been sold off, with only Ballagan and Leddriegreen remaining as a reminder of the Kirklands area.

The Meaning of Strathblane

Strathblane has been a parish since the beginning of the 13th century. The name Strathblane is thought to mean “the valley of the Blane” with Blane being a contraction of two Gaelic words signifying “warm water”. Blane has also been linked with the old Scottish saint St Blane after which Dunblane is named or from St Blathmaic or Blaith, a saint of Royal Irish descent.

The Parish of Strathblane is comprised of three villages – Edenkill, Mugdock and Netherton. Blanefield is a creation of the 19th century. Edenkill - in celtic a place sloping or slanting towards the church – has become identified with modern day Strathblane. Mugdock – the field of Edawc, a Cymric chief – is now a residential area. Netherton – the lower farm in Scots – was located at the Thorn of Cuilt next to where the smiddy or the Smithy Gallery is today.

The name Blanefield came into common usage in the 19th century with the development of both Blanefield House and the printworks by the owners The nearby station was called Blanefield when the line opened in 1867. This resulted in the whole neighbourhood becoming known as Blanefield with the name Netherton all but vanishing. The name Blanefield is now in common usage and is the postal /telephone district.

As the parish has expanded it has become difficult to establish where Strathblane ends and Blanefield begins. It is generally accepted that the South Burn, which flows down the hill near Leddriegreen along the north side of the churchyard to join the Blane in the football field, is the dividing line.

Vicarland lane is the name of the lane leading down to the old railway line and Strathblane Station. This was the route that used to be taken by the ministers who lived at the old manse.

The old manse was built in 1828. Dr William Hamilton was the minister then and he had many a battle with the heritors about the need for a new manse. The one he had to live in was described “incurably damp, in a state of great disrepair, and most incommodious…” After some debate involving the Lord Ordinary in Edinburgh, it was agreed that a new manse be built and the heritors gave Dr Hamilton a sum of money allowing him to build a manse to his own taste. It was built on the opposite site of the Blane from the other manses and a few yards further up the stream than the last. The old manse is now a private property and cannot be accessed by the public. In the grounds of the old manse is a building thought to be the stables, which was built in 1787.

The cycle path follows the route of the old Blane Valley railway line and at this point the Blane Water flows alongside. Continuing along the track towards Lennoxtown the only surviving railway bridge can be seen. This carries the old route between Broadgate Farm and Muirhouse Farm. The above picture from Guthrie Smith shows a bridge over the Blane, which is still there, as well as some of the cottages in Kirklands long demolished. The old route between Broadgate and Muirhouse linked onto a track that led to Glasgow. The route to Muirhouse is marked by a line of trees and is best viewed from the cycle path.

Broadgate Farm has in its field an old stone that mark the site of a battle. Up on the hill is Muirhouse Farm, until recently farmed by the Cumming family for over 200 years. Latterly it was a quarry producing high-grade aggregate. Stone quarried from there built the Parish Church.
Up on the hill behind the Dunglass View housing estate, Leddriegreen House is visible. Leddriegreen Estate, like Duntreath, is an old estate and appears on Blaeu's map of 1654. According to Guthrie Smith since 1787 it included two equal third parts of the thirteen shilling and fourpenny land of Edenkill, and the Kirkhouse Property, a twelvepenny land as well as the poffle of Lurg and the Blue Risk. About 1805 the Leddriegreen Estate was completed by the purchase of the "Kirkhouse Acre". This was feued off the Barony of Mugdock by the Earl of Montrose in 1631 to Walter and Archibald Weir. It contained the thirteen acres and one-half thereby and was bounded on the east by Broadgate, on the south by Vicarland, and the manse and the glebe and to the north by Leddriegreen and carried with it the privilege "to brew ale, and make banquets and bridals … to such as dwell within the parish of Strathblane and the Barony of Mugdock." It has been owned by a number of people including Lord Ardwall.
The route continues up to Dunglass Hill where signs of an old quarry can be seen. This quarry ceased working in the 1930’s but it does not appear to have been a large concern.
There was also a siding into Dunglass Hill Quarry east of Strathblane Station. This was closed in 1928.
From there the walker can see Ballagan House and Ballagan Spout in all their splendour. The Blane Water rises in the hills above
Under the title of Inundations Guthrie Smith records three notable events. About 1736 a water spout burst near the source of the Blane and discharged such an enormous volume of water that the Blane burst its banks causing a great deal of damage. The second great inundation was on the 13th August 1795 when, during a tremendous thunderstorm, a torrent burst from the hills, falling in terrific floods over the Spout of Ballagan running both east and west. It destroyed in its wake crops, damaged the bleachfields and tore up a deep channel in the public road. The third great outburst was on the 12th August, 1884 after a thunderstorm of unexampled fury. The flood again swept over the Spout of Ballagan and did an immense amount of damage to the fields in the neighbourhood, tearing up the road between Ballagan and Broadgate.

Ballagan means a sheltered or lown place. Ballagan was the site of an old mill and also a castle or "fortalice"- a fortified building. It was located on the opposite side of the Blane to the present house. In a private garden is an old yew tree, mentioned in Guthrie Smith. This yew tree still exists in the walled garden,despite the thunderstorm of the 12th August 1884 which damaged the garden and demolished part of the wall.
Ballagan House and Estate were part of the Kirklands of Strathblane. At one point there was a castle at Ballagan. About 1886 it was sold to a Mr Craig a drysalter in Glasgow, who extended the house and also opened a whinstone quarry.
Ballagan Spout is so unusual that it has been made a site of special scientific interest and access is restricted. It is the site of the Ballagan beds, a geological feature For access details contact the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
At the parish boundary Ballagan Farm can be seen. It is one of the last remaining working farms in the parish.
Ballagan House
Ballagan House - a sheltered or lown place.

©Alison Dryden, Strathblane Heritage Society 2003