NS3875 : The Mony

taken 7 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

The Mony
The Mony
The stone shown here is located at the eastern entrance of the NS3875 : Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park; see that photograph for a view of the stone in context.

For an explanation of "the Mony", see the main description of the park: NS3875 : Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park.
Castle Hill and Arthur's Seat
There are two small wooded knolls in the NS3875 : Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park, to the west of Castlehill Road in Dumbarton: the larger and more easterly of the two is called Castle Hill (NS38507588), and it gives its name to the Castlehill area of Dumbarton; the smaller knoll 100 metres to its west is called Arthur's Seat (NS38407590). The first-edition OS map (surveyed in 1860) shows the names Arthur's Seat and Castle Hill, the latter also being (incorrectly) marked as an antiquity with the words "site of Castle".

Geological maps (BGS) show an igneous dyke running almost EW through the area, from NS38987584 (near the southern end of the Renton Road) to NS37017581 (the beach near Leabank); the knolls stand on that line, and they are presumably associated with the dyke.

► ARTHUR'S SEAT

The OS Name Books of 1860 have the following entry: "Arthur's Seat A small eminence west of Castle Hill, it is wooded".

For further comments on the name, see the section "Arthur's Castle", below. From 1937 to 1981, a monument to Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham stood next to Arthur's Seat. See the section on "The Mony", below, for more on that monument.

► CASTLE HILL

The OS Name Books of 1860 have a much longer entry for Castle Hill; it begins as follows:

"Castle Hill A small wooded eminence immediately west of a farm house of the same name. It is traditionally handed down that a residence, of King Robert Bruce, had been here. No vestige of it now remains."

(Castlehill Farm, mentioned there, was centred on NS38587590. Relative to features existing in 2018, that corresponds to the location of the tree that is near the southwestern corner of the Enterprise Centre, beside the road junction.)

The OS Name Books go on to include a lengthy quotation from Joseph Irving's "History of Dumbartonshire" (c.1860), stating that Robert the Bruce built a castle at Castle Hill, and that he spent his final years there; the quotation describes some of his activities.

The idea that King Robert had his residence (it was certainly not a "castle") at the knoll now called Castle Hill appears to have been founded on nothing more than the knoll's name. The current thinking is that Robert's residence was about a kilometre to the north-east of there, in the vicinity of the former NS3976 : Site of Mains of Cardross Farm (the farm itself is long gone), close to the western bank of the River Leven. See NS3976 : Mains of Cardross Canal for further comments. Not only is that the current thinking; it had also been the much older opinion: Mains of Cardross had been considered the likely location of Bruce's residence before the notion that it was at Castle Hill temporarily came into vogue.

A letter LinkExternal link by the learned Dr David Murray LinkExternal link of Cardross, in the June 12th 1928 issue of the Glasgow Herald, sheds some light on the time of the origin of the belief, dating it to around the 1830s/1840s: he there states that "this belief is based solely upon the name 'Castlehill'. It is assumed that there was at one time a castle upon the spot, and it is further assumed that it was built by King Robert Bruce. No remains of a building on Castlehill have ever been seen or heard of, and even if there had been it would not follow that the building had been erected by King Robert. The suggestion that Castlehill was the King's residence was first made some 80 and 90 years ago, and has by frequent repetition gained some credence. That it is a mistake there is no doubt".

Joseph Irving does, on pages 8990 of the first volume of his "Book of Dumbartonshire" (1879), provide some useful quotations from the Latin accounts of the Grand Chamberlain, detailing various expenses incurred in connection with Robert's residence at Cardross. Irving also provides translations of some of these into English, but readers should be warned that he consistently translates "manerium" (the word used to describe Robert's residence) as "castle", which is certainly incorrect. It is tempting to translate "manerium" as "manor" instead, but Dr Murray, in the letter already mentioned, states that, in Scotland at least, "Mains" would be a better translation, and that "home farm" has much the same connotations. King Robert's "manerium de Cardross" is known to have been a one-storey structure, and it was, in modern terms, something like a hunting lodge. See Eunice G Murray's remarks quoted at NS3976 : Mains of Cardross Canal for further comments (these remarks are from the first chapter of her book, and that chapter is based largely on notes made by her father, the aforementioned Dr David Murray). The word "Mains" developed, via "demesne", from the Medieval Latin "dominia".

The traditional association of Robert the Bruce with the Castlehill area is also commemorated by NS3875 : Bruce's Flagstaff, nearby, on the other side of Cardross Road (at the foot of the Brucehill housing estate, whose name is another tribute to the king). It was erected in 1928 by the Dumbarton Patriotic Society, and it is topped by a weather vane that incorporates a crown and a battle axe, the latter likely alluding to the axe blow with which the Bruce cleaved the head of Sir Henry de Bohun in two, in a skirmish before the Battle of Bannockburn was properly underway. In fairness to the Dumbarton Patriotic Society, I should add that they did not believe that Bruce's residence had been on either of the knolls; they realised that even the larger of the two could scarcely have accommodated the larder of Bruce's house, let alone the rest of the building. They believed that Bruce's "castle" had been at what was, in their day, the location of Castlehill farm (described in detail above), just to the east of the knolls; see the correspondence (for June 13th) cited in the next paragraph.

The erection of the flagstaff is what prompted the June 12th 1928 letter already mentioned. While Dr Murray was all in favour of honouring King Robert, he felt that the chosen location was inappropriate. For dissenting views in follow-up correspondence in the Glasgow Herald, see LinkExternal link on June 13th, by Peter Thomson of the Dumbarton Patriotic Society, which had erected the flagstaff, and LinkExternal link on June 19th, by John Irving, son of historian Joseph Irving.

Modern scholarship generally favours a location near Mains of Cardross, not Castle Hill; see G.W.S.Barrow, in his book "Robert Bruce And the Community of the Realm of Scotland", for a succinct discussion of the evidence. To cite just one example, Bruce's "great ship" is said to have been taken from the river to the burn next to his "manerium" (dwelling), and its "actilia" (gear or tackle) carried to the "manerium de Cardross"; those Latin accounts are quoted in Joseph Irving's book (the reference was given above). Sailing along the River Leven would take someone to a burn beside Mains of Cardross, but getting to a burn at Castlehill would require sailing quite a way up a slope. Note also, in connection with that point about the ship, that John Irving, in his letter (June 19th), has fallen foul of his father's mistranslation of "manerium" as "castle", leading to further confusion.

See LinkExternal link for pictures of Mains of Cardross, and for further comments about that site.

The name Castle Hill is an old one: a charter made in 1542 grants to Archibald Campbell, master of the King's wine-cellar, the "terras de Kirktoun de Cardros, Dalmowok, Weltoun et molendinum earundem, terras de Castelhill, Hole, et Hawthornehill, vic. Dunbertane", etc.; that is, the lands of Kirkton of Cardross, Dalmoak, Walton, and their mill, the lands of Castlehill, Hole and Hawthornhill in Dumbartonshire [charter #2630 in RMS Vol. 2].

[Most of these names are still in use: Dalmoak (NS38597287), Walton (NS35927723); Hawthornhill Farm was at NS37677608, and the Hawthornhill area of housing now there preserves the name; Laigh or Under Kirkton was a small settlement beside the ancient Cardross parish kirk, St Serf's (NS3975 : The ruins of St Serf's Church), in what is now Levengrove Park; the nearby Kirktonhill area (NS38787521) preserves the name. That only leaves Hole: for Easter or Foul Hole, also known as Hoill of Cardross, see NS3875 : Bruce's Stables; Wester Hole was near Ardoch (NS36337680), and was sometimes called Hoill of Ardoch. Note that there is a Wallaceton very near Walton; perhaps the name Walton is a worn-down form of Wallaceton.]

► "ARTHUR'S CASTLE"

Certain medieval documents (specifically, some 14th- and 15th-century Exchequer Rolls) mention a place called Arthur's Castle, from which blencheferme payments see LinkExternal link at DSL for "blencheferme" were to be made to the sheriff of Dumbarton.

Dr I M M MacPhail, in his book "Dumbarton Castle" (1979), provides reasons for dismissing the suggestion of some older historians that Arthur's Castle might be another name for Dumbarton Castle. He then points out that the conjunction of the names Arthur's Seat and Castle Hill in this area provides grounds for the suggestion that this is the location of the site called Arthur's Castle, although the origin of the name is, like that of many other "Arthur" place-names, a mystery.

(A further observation of my own: if the site of these knolls had once been known as Arthur's Castle, it is easy to see how they might, in time, have come to be associated in the popular imagination with another king, Robert the Bruce, who had known connections with the Cardross area. Perhaps this is what prompted the later belief that Robert had once had a "castle" here. Note that, in this context, "Cardross" does not refer to the present-day village of that name; the parish of Cardross at that time extended as far as the western bank of the Leven, and, in particular, the ruins of the ancient Cardross parish church LinkExternal link are close to that river. Some of Robert the Bruce's internal organs, his "viscera", are said to have been buried there; his heart was buried at Melrose Abbey, and his body at Dunfermline Abbey.)

► "THE MONY": THE CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM MEMORIAL PARK

On the 28th of August 1937, a large monument was unveiled beside the smaller knoll, Arthur's Seat. It commemorated Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (18521936), who was a politician and adventurer, and a steadfast advocate of Scottish Home Rule. He was affectionately nicknamed Don Roberto; amongst his other activities, he had been a cattle rancher in South America.

For a description of the memorial, its sculptors, and the unveiling, see NS3875 : Arthur's Seat. The monument no longer stands here; in 1981 it was moved to Gartmore (it is at NS52299750).

As of 2018, there is still a marker at the eastern end of the park with the words "Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park 'The Mony'"; see NS3875 : The Mony. The word "Mony" refers to the monument that stood in the park.

► OUR LADY AND ST PATRICK'S HIGH SCHOOL

Until 2017, Our Lady and St Patrick's High School (often abbreviated to OLSP), which had itself arisen from the merger of St Patrick's (a boys' school) and Notre Dame (a girls' school), was located at NS38297951, at the western edge of the Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park. In the second half of 2017 the school moved to a new site at the top of Bellsmyre: NS4077 : The new OLSP occupies the former site of the Bellsmyre High Flats (see LinkExternal link for those flats).
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NS3875, 93 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Friday, 24 December, 2010   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 4 January, 2011
Geographical Context
Park and Public Gardens 
Near (from Tags)
Castlehill 
Category
Stone   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3855 7584 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.9033N 4:35.2235W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3855 7584
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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