NS4278 : Signs of former industry at the Spouts Burn

taken 8 years ago, 3 km from Bonhill, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Signs of former industry at the Spouts Burn
Signs of former industry at the Spouts Burn
The signs of ancient industrial activity along this part of the burn are not very prominent in photos, nor very noticeable when there in person. However, there are a number of interesting features in this area.

A large green mound is visible left of centre in the middle distance: NS4278 : Mound beside the Spouts Burn. That mound has a small pit set into its southern side. The pit has a covering of turf over some loose stones, and is possibly a badly-decayed lime-kiln ruin; for a better view, and for more details, see NS4278 : Possible lime-kiln ruin at the Spouts Burn.

A better-preserved lime-kiln ruin is located nearby (see the link just cited, and the annotated satellite view whose link is given in the end-note), and the mounds at the location shown in the present photo may well be related to that industry.

As for the smaller mounds, these are placed fairly regularly in pairs, with one on each side of the burn.

[They are best seen in the historical imagery in Google Earth, using the satellite images dated Jan 28th, 2005.]

They are certainly not natural features; instead, they might be associated in some way with former cornstone workings that are located not far downstream (see LinkExternal link for details); cornstone is a kind of limestone, and was often burned in lime-kilns to provide lime for agricultural use.

Individually, the mounds are not very noticeable; in isolation, they would easily be overlooked. They stand out for three reasons: their number, their suspiciously regular paired arrangement, and their distinct greenish colour. That colour arises from a covering of grass, rather than the heather that is otherwise abundant in the area, and it suggests that the mounds are indeed lime-rich. See LinkExternal link and LinkExternal link for views of some of those small mounds, and LinkExternal link for what appeared to be a small oval enclosure, which was a little wider than the mounds.

The mounds are smaller than the usual lime-kiln ruins that are widespread in this area (particularly in the glen of the Murroch Burn, and in Auchenreoch Glen), but they appear to be related to that industry. For a better view, and for the most likely explanation of the nature of these small mounds, see NS4278 : Mounds beside the Spouts Burn.

The item NS4277 : Remains of an ancient farmhouse mentions a braided trackway associated with that farmstead, but points out that there is a much more extensive system of tracks to the north. These lead to and beyond the area shown in the present photograph. [The tracks are most clearly seen in the 2005 imagery that was mentioned above.]

The network of tracks leads to numerous, fairly widely-separated sites where there is evidence of former limestone quarrying, or where the remains of lime-kilns can be found. It seems that the tracks are primarily connected with the local limestone industry (the stone was burned to produce lime for agricultural use).

On the moors of Dunbartonshire, limestone is mainly encountered in the form of cornstone, and, despite the extensive quarrying that has been carried out in the past, boulders and small outcrops are still abundant. An article by John Mitchell cited in LinkExternal link notes that the first historical mention of cornstone quarrying and burning in this district is from 1707, and that the industry appears to have reached its peak in the second half of the eighteenth century, after which it rapidly declined.

The extensive system of old tracks is evidence of the former importance of this industry throughout the area.
Mounds beside the Spouts Burn
Alongside this part of the Spouts Burn, there is a single large green mound, with a hollow that is probably a lime-kiln ruin, and several similar but much smaller mounds; the latter are arranged in pairs, with one on each side of the burn, and they may be the remains of clamp-kilns. See LinkExternal link for an annotated satellite view centred on this area. If associated with nearby cornstone quarrying (see LinkExternal link for details), these signs of former industry probably date from the eighteenth century.
Network of old limestone industry tracks :: NS4379
A very extensive network of ancient tracks on the moors in West Dunbartonshire links old quarries, ruined lime-kilns, and other sites connected with the local limestone-burning industry, which flourished in the 18th century. See LinkExternal link for a Geograph article about the network, and LinkExternal link for an annotated satellite view of it.
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NS4278, 98 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 29 January, 2010   (more nearby)
Thursday, 4 February, 2010
Geographical Context
Industry  Derelict, Disused  Rivers, Streams, Drainage 
Place (from Tags)
The Spouts Burn 
Period (from Tags)
18th Century 
Ruin (from Tags)
Lime-Kiln  Clamp Kiln 
Burn   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4286 7849 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:58.4163N 4:31.1796W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4283 7845
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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Other Tags
Archaeology  Limestone Industry 

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