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Drumclog Battlefield

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Drumclog, a wide boggy moorland tract in Avondale parish, Lanarkshire, near the Ayrshire horder, and 6 miles SW of Strathaven. Here stands a somewhat showy monument, inscribed, 'In commemoration of the victory obtained on this battlefield, on Sabbath the 11th of June 1679, by our Covenanted forefathers over Graham of Claverhouse and his dragoons.' On 29 May 1679, eighty horsemen had affixed to Rutherglen marketcross the 'Declaration and Testimony of the True Presbyterian Party in Scotland,' and, following up this public defiance, an armed conventicle met on l1 June on the boggy slope of conical Loudon Hill, where Bruce, 370 years before, had defeated the English invader- Service was scarce begun, when the watchers brought word that Claverhouse was at hand, and, the congregation breaking up, the armed men moved off to the farm of Drumclog, 2½ miles to the eastward. Two hundred or more in number, all well armed with fusils and pitchforks, and forty of them mounted, they were officered by Hall of Haughhead, Robert Fleming, Balfour of Burley, and Hackston of Rathillet, who wisely took up position behind a cleft, where lay the water of a ditch or ` stank.' Across this cleft the skirmishers of either side kept firing; the question appeared to be, which would cross first, or which hold longest out; when suddenly two parties of the Covenanters, one headed by young William Cleland the poet, swept round both ends of the stank with so much fury that the dragoons could not sustain the shock, but broke and fled, leaving thirty-six dead on the field, where only three of their antagonists were killed. Such was Drumclog, preceded by Magus Muir, followed by Bothwell Brig, an episode immortalised by Scott in Old Mortality, sung too by Allan Cunningham, and thus alluded to by Carlyle, under date April 1820: ' Drumclog Moss is the next object I remember, and Irving and I sitting by ourselves under the silent bright skies among the "peathags," with a world all silent around us. These peathags are still pictured in me; brown bog all pitted and broken into heathy remnants and bare abrupt wide holes, 4 or 5 feet deep, mostly dry at present; a flat wilderness of broken bog, of quagmire not to be trusted (probably wetter in old days there, and wet still in rainy seasons). Clearly a good place for Cameronian preaching, and dangerously difficult for Claverse and horse soldiery if the suffering remnant had a few old muskets. . . . I remember us sitting on the brow of a peat-hag, the sun shining, our own voices the one sound. Far, far away to the westward over our brown horizon, towers up white and visible at the many miles of distance a high irregular pyramid. "Ailsa Craig," we at once guessed, and thought of the seas and oceans away yonder. '-Ord. Sur., shs. 22,23,1865. See W. Aiton's History of the Rencounter at Drumclog (Hamilton, 1821); vol. vii., pp. 221-226, of Hill Burton's History of Scotland (ed. 1876); and vol. i., p. 178, of Carlyle's R'eminiscences (1881).

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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