Renfrewshire Local History Forum has introduced a new series of archaeology fieldtrips in the ‘Old Renfrewshire’. Our first archaeology walk in the series took place in Eaglesham and was led by Susan Hunter, a member of the Forum and of the Association of Certificated Field Archaeologists.
Susan started the walk at Glasgow Street at the bottom of the Orry, an A-shaped green area in the centre of the Eaglesham village covering 15 acres, bordered on the north by Montgomery Street and on the south by Polnoon Street. The Orry was gifted to the inhabitants of Eaglesham in the late 18th century by the 10th Earl of Eglinton as part of his planned village.
Susan pointed out areas of archaeological and historic interest as we made our way up the length of the Orry – the sites of old lades, tunnels and reservoirs on the Kikton Burn, old field boundaries , Moat Hill which was an early meeting place for judicial and other assemblies, Mid Road Bridge which was rebuilt by the feuars in 1835, and sites recently identified by geo-phys surveys where old buildings formerly stood.
However, the highlight of the day was the site and archaeological remains of the New Orry Cotton Mill built in the middle of the Orry, probably in 1791. The mill was the principal employer in Eaglesham for more than seventy years with as many as 200 employees in 1845. The main building was an impressive five storeys high. The mill’s history ended when it was destroyed by fire in 1876.
The walk up the Orry ended at the site of the Earl of Eglinton’s dog kennels. We then visited the site of an of an older cotton mill built in the late eighteenth century at Townhead at the top of the old village. Finally, we walked down Montgomery Street to visit the churchyard to see the Covenanter Memorial, commemorating the killing of martyrs Robert Lochkhart and Gabriel Thomson, who were put to death by the Highland Dragoons after attending a conventicle meeting in 1685.
Everyone attending the fieldtrip found this a most interesting and enjoyable day. We hope over the coming months to continue this series of walks in the local Strathgryffe area.