THE BISHOP’S LOCH AND ROBROYSTON.
(Via GREEN CAR TO BAILLIESTON.)
JOIN CAR AT PAISLEY ROAD TOLL, JAMAICA STREET, OR GLASGOW CROSS.
Route—Argyle Street—Gallowgate—Parkhead Cross—Shettleston Road—Glasgow Road— Baillieston
PLEASANT and most interesting short ramble of about seven miles is offered to those who care to take the car to Baillieston. The route to Parkhead is similar to that described in the Hamilton and Cadzow Forest ramble. At Parkhead Cross the Baillieston tram goes to the left, passing through Westmuir Street into Shettleston. The name of this thoroughfare preserves the memory of the moorlands, which in medieval times stretched from Parkhead north to Lumloch and east beyond the Bishop’s Loch. At Shettleston we are on historic ground. The place-name is ancient. It appears as an established place-name in a charter of Alexander II., dated 29th October, 1226, wherein the Bailies of Rutherglen are prohibited from taking toll or custom “in the town of Glasgow but at the Cross of Sehedenestoun as they were anciently accustomed to be taken.” Clearly there was a cross at Shettleston in that far distant period. I think we may assume from the reference to “toll or custom” that this pillar was a Mercat Cross, or trading centre, where hunters and farmers from the forests and pastures of the Monklands bartered and exchanged with the merchants and traders of Glasgow, Renfrew, and Rutherglen. In passing, it is interesting to note that Rutherglen was the important town of the trio, having been erected into a Royal Burgh about 1126; indeed, it is probably the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland. Glasgow was not raised to that dignity until 1636. Shettleston appears frequently but under many orthographic variations in the old rental books of the Barony of Glasgow. For example, on 10th December, 1515, we find “Johne Gray rentellit in xls. land of Chedilstoune callit Towcors,” an interesting local note, the Johne Gray mentioned being an ancestor of the Grays of Tollcross (Towcors), and afterwards of Carntyne. In November, 1517, there is mentioned the “estyr quarter of Schedilston;” “Chedilstone” in 1518, and the following entry in the register has another local place-name of historic interest, “Rob Raystone,” which we know as Robroyston. Shettleston and Tollcross became part of Glasgow under the great annexation scheme of 1912.
Leaving Shettleston you leave the town and get a breath of the caller country air; pass Barrachnie, another old place-name of the district. On the 14th of June, 1520, “Wyl Morisone” is “rentalit” in land there, and in September, 1522, “James Browne and Thome Muir” are “rentallit in xxiis. land off Barrachnie.” So to Baillieston where we leave the tram and have a walk of a couple of miles, passing Easterhouse, to the Bishop’s Loch. This pleasant sheet of water, with its sedgy banks and framework of verdant foliage on the north, is a favourite haunt of the angler and the entomologist. The archaeologist will also find notes of interest. Ancient man had his dwelling in its waters, concrete proof being afforded by the crannog discovered by that enthusiastic seeker, the late W. A. Donnelly, artist and antiquarian. Later still in its story came the Bishops of Glasgow, who built on its eastern shores the palace of Lochwood, hence the name of the Bishop’s Loch. The Bishop’s manor near Lochwood figures conspicuously in the ecclesiastical history of Glasgow. Within its walls on Christmas eve, 1446, there died the famous Bishop John Cameron of Lochiel, probably the ablest Scottish ecclesiastic, as he was one of the ablest men of his time. Buchanan and Spottiswood entertained a different opinion as I shall show. At the Reformation the manor of Lochwood was seized by the Duke of Chatelherault. In March, 1573, it was granted to Boyd of Badenheath, whose ruined fortalice we passed on our ramble to Luggie’s source. Boyd is said to have demolished Lochwood. Not a stone remains above ground to mark the site of this ancient country manor of the Bishops of Glasgow. A relic of the orchard connected with the manor is or was to be seen on the eastern bank opposite Gartloch Asylum, an aged and weather-scarred apple tree; and it may be that the green mounds in its neighbourhood have in their keeping the foundations and perchance the cellars of the vanished manor.
A WEIRD STORY
of the passing cf Bishop Cameron is told in the History of the Church of Scotland “written by that grave and reverand prelate and wise counsellor John Spotswood, lord archbishop of St. Andrews and privy counsellor to King Charles the First,” of which curious work there are several manuscripts. It was published in 1665. I will let it tell its awesome tale:
“John Cameron was bishop, a man given to violence and oppression—who committing many deeds full of cruelty and covetousness upon his own tenants and vassals—made, as the fame goeth, a fearful and unhappy end. For, in the year 1446, the night before Christmas, as he lay asleep in his house of Lochwood, some seven miles from the city of Glasgow, he seemed to hear a voice summoning him to appear before the tribunal of Christ and give an account of his doings.”
Thereupon he awaked and, being greatly terrified, did call his servants to bring lights and sit by him. He himself took a book in his hand and began to read. But the voice being again heard struck all the servants with amazement. The same voice calling the third time far louder and more fearfully, the bishop, after a heavy groan, was found dead in the bed, his tongue hanging out of his mouth. This, reported by Buchanan, I thought good to remember as a notable example of God’s judgment against the crying sin of oppression.”
So runs the gousty tale of vanished Lochwood; a strange tale truly. When we think of that awful figure lying white and still on the bed and the ashen grey face with the tongue hanging out of the mouth, we would not care to be at the Bishop’s Loch on a dark night when the wind is creeping through the reeds and soughing over the shadowed hollows where stood the Bishop’s house and where we know there linger
“Gousty schaddois of eild and grisly deed.”
The soft summer airs from the blue waters of the loch, the sunshine, and the song of the lintie chase these eerie fancies into the realm of the forgetful. We cross the green meadow or go by the road—down which we came—to old and picturesque Provan Hall. This is a rare survival, an architectural cameo from the past. Over the arched gateway is an armorial stone bearing the date 1647 with the initials R.H. and the cinque-foils of the Hamilton’s clearly defined. Provan Hall was the country house and Provand’s Lordship (the ancient edifice in Cathedral Square) the town residence of William Baillie who, in 1562, was “lord Provand president of the College of Justice, Prebendery of the Prebend of Glasgow called Ballenirk alias Provand. “William Baillie died in 1593, leaving two sons. Neither had issue, and the estate passed to their sister, the “air,” a lady named Elizabeth, who married Sir Robert Hamilton of Goslington. Their son Francis inherited Provan Hall and its lands. Francis was a spendthrift; the estate passed from him to his brother, whose son, another Sir Robert Hamilton, in 1667 sold the lands and the Hall to Glasgow for 106,000 merks or £70,666 Scots, about £5,800 sterling. This grey and ancient chateau stands on a knowe overlooking the meadows where once glittered the Loch of Provan. Cattle now feed and hay is cut where in 1668 were the waters of the loch on which the Town Council of Glasgow “recommendis to Peter Gemmil lait baillie to provyd ane coble for the use of the loch of Provan.” The waters came to the edge of the fine old terraced garden which lies facing the south below the hill on which the Hall stands. It used to be called the Hall Mailling, and consists of two houses united on one side by a strong loop-holed wall pierced by an arched gateway. The whole forms a four-sided court which could be defended if necessary. The house to the north side with its crow-stepped gables, vaulted basement, huge fireplace, and rounded turret stairway, is very old, and was built probably about 1450. Artist, archaeologist, and photographer will find much to whet the appetite in and around this queer old place.
A tramp of a couple of miles by the road that goes north from Provan Hall takes you to Millerston. Go by the farm road that passes Cardowan, it shortens the route, and, moreover, it takes you past a place mentioned in the Notitia or record of the famous Inquest of David carried out about 1124 and regarded as “perhaps the oldest authentic Scottish document extant.” In that record, as one of the possessions of the Bishops of Glasgow, there is “Cardowan a mile west of the Bishoploch,” so let the rambler’s footsteps pass that place of ancient days.
At Millerston you have Hogganfield Loch on your left, and on the right and over the moor lies the new and rather attractive suburb of Stepps. Go straight ahead, turn to the right before reaching Robroyston Station, cross the railway, pass Bogside farm and so to Auchinleck farm and the little well known as Wallace’s Well. You are here on historic ground. Tradition has it that when the great Scottish patriot visited Robroyston he was wont to drink of the waters of this little well. It is possible and probable, for such a pure sparkling spring would be of much value to the countryside in those distant days. The spring still babbles forth, its music as sweet and its waters as crystal as they were eight hundred years ago when the Wallace Wight tasted both. A brief tramp takes us to the Celtic pillar, erected by the Scottish Patriotic Association to mark the site of the house in which Wallace was betrayed.
“Rabraeston it was near to the wayside
. . . one house where Wallace used to bide.”
So said old Blind Harry who, about 1450, wrote his book of William Wallace: So has this pillar lone been set near to the wayside, in a place fragrant in memories of men and deeds which we see,
“Magnified by the purple mist
The dusk of centuries and of song.”
Long years have passed since that great betrayal, but “the evil that men do lives after them,” and it has lived. Still, fancy weaves another and finer tissue, and gazing on it the rambler with old Khayyam may say,
“I sometimes think that never blows so red
The rose as where some buried Caesar bled.”
To the car at Riddrie it is two miles of good tramping, due south, and rising from Robroyston. A modest but interesting ramble.