Glasgow & West Scotland

Capturing the past at Chatelherault Country Park

Hoolet Row cottage Image copyright South Lanarkshire Council
Image caption The cottages stood at the site until the area was cleared in the 1950s

There is only a small sign to indicate that they were ever there, but a new project, launched this weekend, is hoping that traces of a row of old miners cottages in South Lanarkshire can reveal more about the people who lived in the area and the surrounding landscape.

Hoolet Row, in Chatelherault Country Park, near Hamilton, was named after the owls which nested nearby.

Now the site is covered thickly in trees and not much light filters through them. It is pretty silent and hard to imagine that this place would once have been alive to the sound of people.

"This was a nice tidy row of cottages until the late 1950s really when it was cleared for this new tree planting," says Malcolm Muir, countryside and greenspace manager at South Lanarkshire Council.

Image caption Hoolet Row was named after the owls that nested nearby
Image caption Part of an old bedstead has been left leaning against a tree

"At that time, it sat at the bottom of a beautiful natural woodland, which came down from the heights of the Avon gorge, a wee track wended up to the top, past a well and in the front there were drying greens that ran down to the beautiful river Avon."

The "Capturing the Past" project is being led by Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP Heritage). It aims to explore the area's industrial, horticultural and agricultural past.

'Poignant piece of archaeology'

At the present day Hoolet Row site only the odd stone pokes through a thick bed of leaves and moss, marking where the foundations of the houses once stood.

The well which supplied them with water is still there and then there is an incongruous sight - part of an old bedstead leaning against a tree.

"It's just sitting in the forest," says CAVLP Heritage officer Dr Paul Murtagh.

"It's an absolutely beautiful bed, carved roses and flowers on it and you can imagine the people that were maybe born or even died in this bed, It's a very poignant piece of archaeology that very rarely survives."

Image caption Dr Paul Murtagh is one of the team who will be recording the archaeology in the area
Image caption The foundations of the cottages can be seen sticking out of leaves and moss

Over the next three years the team is aiming to get a clearer picture of how people lived and worked in the area by exploring and recording the archaeology, much of which has never been recorded before.

They will also use old photos, maps and memories and they want volunteers to get involved.

It is just a few metres from Hoolet Row to the entrance of what was an old colliery. Nature has reclaimed it and it is hard to see what it once was.

The mine was known for a disaster which occurred there in the 1840s which killed a number of people.

Dr Murtagh says stories like these still resonate.

"Places like this, even though there's very little to be seen, just a few humps and bumps, these are places that tell us a much bigger story about the landscape, but also about the history of Scotland," he says.

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