The Barony of Mugdock

Mugdock Castle (from Guthrie Smith)
Print showing Mugdock Castle after restoration by John Guthrie Smith in 1875. The decayed old house of 1655 was removed and a new one built. It too has fallen into disrepair and only the south tower remains, which according to Guthrie Smith is as firm and entire as when the Great Marquis of Montrose stood on it before starting his campaign of 1644.

The Barony of Mugdock and Easter Mugdock or Mugdock Mitchell formed a large and important part of Strathblane. The Grahams of Montrose were the principal land owners. Its history is complex. A charter of confirmation to David of Grahame by King Alexander 111, dated 27th December 1253 showed that he, David of Grahame, had received one grant of lands in "Strathblathane" from Maldoven, Earl of Lennox,and, a second from Malcolm, this earl's son, who died in 1248. Guthrie Smith in his, at times convoluted, explanation of the Barony of Mugdock describes how the Graham family increased their ownership of the parish over the coming centuries until it comprised of Craigallian, Carbeth, Auchengillan, Quinloch, Kilmannan, Leddriegreen, Dumbroch, Peach, Easter, Wester and Middle Mugdock, The Parks, The Craigend, with all the poffles and pertinents thereof and the lands of the Woodend of Mugdock. The lands in Strathblane were, according to Guthrie Smith, but a small part of the Barony of Mugdock. It took in a large district of country stretching southwards, including Boclair, Summerston, and Millichen and other lands in Kilpatrick including Balmore in Baldernock, westward to Dumbarton Moor and northwards to Killearn.

Mugdock Castle

Its manor place was the ancient castle of Mugdock - the Dineiddwg of Cymric times. The castle stood in a commanding position on high land in the south-west part of the parish. In days of old the waters of Mugdock Loch completely surrounded and enclosed the castle with its offices, chapel and garden. Around the castle were the houses of the retainers, with their gardens and crofts. There was a corn mill as well. By charter the Grahams had the right to hold a court and to have a prison for these and other lands in the neighbourhood. Between the castle of Mugdock and Craigend there is a round knoll, which is called Moot Hill or the place of judgement. From this spot the accused, if found guilty, were hurried off to Gallow Knowe, the hill above Craigend castle, where the culprits, if men, were "worreit" or strangled on the gallows which always stood there ready for such events.. Women were "drounit" drowned, as hanging was not thought fit for women, in the little pool of water, which lay at the foot of the gallows.
The Grahams of Mugdock have an illustrious history. Sir Patrick Graham was slain at the battle of Dunbar in 1296 fighting against the English for the independence of Scotland. His brother, Sir John the Graham was a friend of Sir William Wallace and was killed at the battle of Falkirk in 1298.William third Lord Graham and first earl of Montrose fell at the battle of Flodden in 1513. John, the third Earl and his son John the fourth Earl, though quieter than their ancestors , attacked Sir James Sandilands, Tutor of Calder and his friends, seeking to avenge their kinsman, John Graham of Hallyards, a judge of the Court of Session, who had been cruelly slaughtered by the Calder family for giving a decision against them.
In 1670 there was an act of Parliament allowing fairs to hair extensions uk be held at Mugdock. They were allowed to have a "weekly market every Friday and two free fairs yearly, the one upon the second Thursday of August and the other upon the second Tuesday of November within the said Burgh and territories thereof. These fairs provided people with an opportunity to buy and sell livestock, fish, flesh, meal, malt and all sort of grain, cloth, linen and wollen and all sort of merchant commodities. They also allowed the Marquis of Montrose and his estate to collect, deal with, uplift and receive the tolls, customs and duties belonging to the two yearly fairs as well as enjoying to enjoy all other liberties, privileges, freedoms and immunities connected with such fairs. An offshoot of this was the Strathblane Fair held on the lands of Edenkill on the lands between what is now Dumbrock Road and Old Mugdock Road. By the time Guthrie Smith was writing in 1886 it was little more than a livestock fair and ended shortly after that.

Craigend Castle

Craigend Castle
The estate of Craigend, which adjoins Craigallian is composed of several parts of the Barony of Mugdock.
The Smith family who have been associated with the site since 1657 were originally tenants then became lairds for about 200 years. Originally the site was no more than a house and garden with grass for a cow or two. The first addition to Craigend was made in 1734 when James Smith of Gallowhill as he was known, bought the lands of Peach and Old Park. Subsequent family members improved and expanded the estate and the house. In 1816 James Smith had the house pulled down and built Craigend Castle on the site. He also built a castellated tower near the south lodge of Craigend, partly, as an ornament to his grounds and partly, because of the view from the top of the tower. This was known as Smith's Folly. It has since been removed. The Smiths who built Craigend Castle made their fortune from the West India sugar trade. They used the money to : build the castle and acquire the lands of Westerton of Mugdock, Dumbroch and Milndavie and altered roads all in the hope that there would be a long and succeeding line of Smiths of Craigend. This was not to be, the family fortunes soon dwindled and the estate was sold in 1851 to Andrew Buchanan who was in the Diplomatic Service and rose to the rank of Ambassador. The castle is now a ruin.

The Terrors of the Mugdock Pit

Mr John Cochran, Minister of Strathblane 1650-1690 was noted for introducing the following: - the purchase of an hour glass to monitor the length of his sermons, the hanging of the "joggs" at the kirk door - a means of punishing delinquents, such as absentees from the church and other criminals by putting their necks in the joggs and leaving them there as an example. Not content with this, Mr Cochran had built within the church "ane new publick place of repentance" and he also purchased "ane harne gowne" ie a sackcloth robe for the use of penitents who were placed on the pillar to be censured principally for breaches of the Third, Fourth, Seventh and Nineth Commandments. In 1716 the Session Records of the Parish Church tell the clip in hair extensions story of one Janet Martin:
Dec 30, 1716 Janet Martin being called did not present herself for rebuke so the session appointed the Minister to give her up to the Civil magistrate as a disobedient person to Church judicatories in regard that she had been summoned before to produce a character reference of her morality and had oft times refused to come and still failed to produce her reference when she came.
Jan 11, 1717 This day the Minister reports that having obtained from James Graham Justice of the Peace a warrant to James Leitch constable annent Janet Martin and that the said Leitch had brought her the length of the Manse on her way to the Pit of Mugdock but that the said Martin had desired a delay only till the hair extensions next Monday and then she would bring her absolviter.
The end of the matter was that Janet humbled herself, the terrors of the pit or the prison at Mugdock being too great for her, and she was finally pardoned, doubtless after a due use of the public place of repentance and the harne gowne.

The Phantom Army of Mugdock

Guthrie Smith recorded the following story:- in February 1652 there was seen in day light an army of 10/12 thousand men marching on the north side of Calder about Balmore and about Mugdock. All marching in arms, both horse and foot furnished with swords,picks, muskets,drums and trumpets which made all the people flee with their horses cattle and goods. At length the people sent out to the fields where the army marched to understand their errand but they had vanished.

Guthrie Smith's Comments on Mugdock 1886

Mugdock was for long the most important place in the Parish. It was "The Towne and Burgh of Mugdock" and the "Head Burgh of the Regalitie of Montrose with a weekly market ilk Fryday and two free faires yearlie" In the village the old public house stood at the east end and at the west end there was a human hair extensions cross. The water supply for Mugdock consisted of two wells. One which was just outside the village on the road to the north and the other being "Spritts' Well on the path between Mugdock village and castle and the west. This well, Guthrie Smith remarked "was never known to fail and in seasons of drought is the only supply that the villagers have" The market place, where the cattle were bought and sold at the two fairs held in August and November was on Shepherd's Hill, where the house of Westerton of Mugdock stood.This was where the Common of Mugdock was where, until the end of the 18th century the sheep and cattle of the "portioners" were collected nightly by the shepherd of the community. The "Law Stone of Mugdock" stood on the side of the road a few hundred yards south of Middleton farm-house. It was a huge block of freestone and was the largest of a row of similar stones thought to be a memorial to the dead. About six hundred yards due south of this old stone and just on the brow of the " Bank of Mugdock" was St Patrick's Well. This used to be a sacred well and annually on the 1st May people seeking healing would visit the well. Mugdock village is situated 539 feet above sea level.. One result of this Guthrie Smith remarks was that the harvest could be later than in other parts of the parish. One minister, Archibald Smith 1770-1784, in giving thanks from the pulpit for an early and abundant harvest added the following - "But, oh, hae mercy on they puir Mugdock folks, for their victuals (oats) is aye growing yet and it's as green as leeks"

?Alison Dryden, Strathblane Heritage Society 2003