8. The muir

Carman Hill

( Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 )
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright January 2019, Lairich Rig; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


The muir

Geology of the muir

I have created an annotated satellite viewExternal link on which various features of geological interest (as well as traces of associated industries and other antiquities) are marked, as described below.

The topography of the parts of Carman Muir that lie to the south of Cardross Road is determined to a large extent by cornstone deposits (see note 1), which outcrop in several places. Cornstone is an impure granular limestone, a fossil soil. Old quarry pits (probably worked before the nineteenth century) and possible test pits can be seen along the lines of these deposits; they are indicated by light blue marker pins on the annotated satellite view, while the cornstone outcrops are marked by orange pins. This area exemplifies what the British Geological Survey calls the Kinnesswood FormationExternal link.

As was pointed out near the beginning of this article, the "General View of the Agriculture of the County of Dumbarton", published by the Rev. Andrew Whyte and Duncan MacFarlan, D.D. in 1811, mentions "Cairman in Cardross" as a source of what the authors call "moor limestone". The context makes it clear that "moor limestone" is cornstone. As the very name "moor limestone" would imply, "Cairman" here is Carman Muir, rather than Carman Hill; the hill itself has sandstone at the base, and agglomerate at the top, but no deposits of limestone.

Beside and to the north of Cardross Road are outcrops of red sandstone rather than cornstone. The sandstone is best seen along a line of outcrops and pits beside the road (these are indicated by reddish marker pins on the annotated satellite view). The most prominent example, at the ENE end of that line, is the old Fairy Knowe Quarry, later known as Carman Quarry, discussed earlier in this article. This area beside and to the north of the road exemplifies the Stockiemuir Sandstone FormationExternal link.

Both north and south of the road, the strata in this area generally dip at an angle of from 10 to 20 from the horizontal, descending towards the SSE; the Stockiemuir Sandstone Formation that is exposed beside and to the north of the road underlies the cornstone-containing Kinnesswood Formation that is to the south of the road.

The annotated satellite view also includes markers for various antiquities, some of which are discussed below.


Notes

(1) "Cornstone": See the paper "Old Cornstone Workings in Dunbartonshire and West Stirlingshire, with Notes on their Associated Flora", by John Mitchell: "Glasgow Naturalist", Volume 22(5), 1995, pp485-494). I have seen only a few pages from that paper, but they inspired my interest in mapping the outcrops and pits in the area. According to that paper, cornstone, which has the alternative name caliche, is a terrestrial rather than a marine limestone. It was burned to produce lime for use in the cultivation of cereal crops; this was a folk industry rather than a large-scale commercial venture, and the practice rapidly tailed off after the start of the nineteenth century. The paper lists several former cornstone workings, including the one shown in the next section. As the paper also explains, former cornstone workings are of ecological importance because the calcium carbonate leached from the rocks gives rise to a less acidic habitat, which can support various plant species that would not otherwise occur in the area.

Limestone quarries

My main aim in creating the annotated satellite viewExternal link was to use it to plot various quarries, test pits, and outcrops in the area. The cornstone deposits are arranged in lines, and many pits occur along their length. The larger pits are former quarries, while the much smaller circular ones nearby are presumably test pits. The fact that they all occur on the lines of the cornstone outcrops makes it clear that they are not bomb craters, despite the former presence of a WWII decoy fire nearby (as will be discussed later in the article).

A selection of outcrops, old quarries and test pits is given below, where the numbering follows that employed in the satellite view:
NS3778 : Cornstone outcrop by Lairich RigNS3778 : Cornstone outcrop by Lairich RigNS3678 : Limestone outcrop by Lairich Rig(left) Outcrop 1.
(middle) Outcrop 2.
(right) Outcrop 7.
NS3778 : Old quarry pit by Lairich RigNS3778 : Old quarry pit by Lairich RigNS3778 : Old quarry pit by Lairich Rig(left) Quarry pit 2.
(middle) Quarry pit 14.
(right) Quarry pit 16.
NS3778 : Old quarry pit by Lairich RigNS3778 : Old quarry pit by Lairich RigNS3778 : Old quarry pit by Lairich Rig(left) Quarry pit 6.
(middle) Quarry pit 17.
(right) Quarry pit 10.
NS3778 : Possible test pit by Lairich RigNS3778 : Possible test pit by Lairich RigNS3778 : Possible test pit by Lairich RigThree possible test pits:
(left) Quarry pit 25.
(middle) Quarry pit 7.
(right) Quarry pit 19.

The paper by John Mitchell that is cited in note 1 of the previous section of this article mentions former cornstone workings in this area, as well as the remains of a lime-kiln associated with that site. The spoil mounds at the workings and the ruins of the kiln are shown below:
NS3678 : Former cornstone workings on Carman Muir by Lairich RigNS3678 : Spoil mounds at old cornstone workings by Lairich RigNS3678 : Pool and ruin of lime-kiln on Carman Muir by Lairich Rig(left, middle) Spoil mounds at the old cornstone workings.
(right) Ruins of a lime-kiln (in the foreground), with a pond in the background.

The pond in the background of the third of those pictures is called the Dookers (a local name only). A similar body of water a little further away also has a local name: Dick's Pond.

Sandstone quarries

As mentioned above, cornstone (a kind of limestone) gives way to red sandstone beside and to the north of Cardross Road. The largest red sandstone quarry, at the former Fairy Knowe, has already been discussed, but it should be mentioned that there are signs of sandstone quarrying on a smaller scale, as well as sandstone outcrops, in various places beside the road.
NS3678 : Red sandstone outcrops by Lairich RigNS3678 : Line of sandstone outcrops by Lairich RigNS3678 : Old sandstone quarry by Lairich Rig(left) A close view of a red sandstone outcrop.
(middle) A line of such outcrops.
(right) A small sandstone quarry beside the road.
NS3678 : Old sandstone quarry by Lairich RigNS3678 : Old sandstone quarry: detail by Lairich RigNS3678 : Old sandstone quarry: detail by Lairich Rig(left) Overlooking a similar small quarry.
(middle) Another small sandstone quarry near the road.
(right) A closer look at the rock face, showing tool marks.

Cairns

There is a reportExternal link at WoSAS about several turf-covered cairns on the moor. To me, they look little different from outcrops beneath the turf, but for the purposes of the present article I will take the interpretation given in the original report in good faith. The various cairns are shown below, numbered I, II, III, to correspond with the numbering given in the WoSAS report. The positions given below are those determined by me using GPS, and should be taken as correct to within only 5m or so, rather than genuinely having metre precision. Note that these positions differ from the problematic ones given in the original report, where the stated distance from the road, in particular, is quite different:
NS3678 : The first of a group of three cairns by Lairich RigNS3678 : The first of a group of three cairns by Lairich RigTwo views of Cairn I, which is at NS3687978754.
NS3678 : The second of a group of three cairns by Lairich RigNS3678 : The second of a group of three cairns by Lairich RigTwo views of Cairn II, which is at NS3690778741.
NS3678 : The third of a group of three cairns by Lairich RigCairn III, "not as convincing" as cairns I and II, is at NS3692778769

A single cairn, similar to the above, has been reported from further to the west:
NS3678 : Grass-covered ancient cairn by Lairich RigNS3678 : Grass-covered ancient cairn by Lairich RigNS3678 : Grass-covered ancient cairn by Lairich RigThree views of the single cairn at NS3663478440.

On my annotated satellite viewExternal link, the three grouped cairns are marked with green pins; the other single cairn can be seen further to the westExternal link on the same view.

Hut circle or enclosure

A "hut circle" that was reported from nearby is hard to spot. In the reportsExternal link at WoSAS, it will be seen that, in comments made after a field visit in 2014, F Baker considered it more likely that the feature was an animal enclosure; that alternative interpretation is worth bearing in mind.

In satellite imagery, the feature is, depending on the data-set that happens to be online at the time, either invisible or barely visible, in contrast to a round green patch a few metres to the southeast, which shows up all too well, but is not the antiquity in question. When there in person, it is certainly possible to discern the outline of the hut circle or enclosure, and to follow its circular boundary, but it is very difficult to show it effectively in photographs, where a sense of stereoscopic depth is lacking:
NS3678 : Possible hut circle on Carman Muir by Lairich RigNS3678 : Possible hut circle on Carman Muir by Lairich RigNS3678 : Possible hut circle on Carman Muir by Lairich RigThree views of the hut circle or enclosure; it is about 14 metres across.
Its curving far side is the most visible feature, or the least invisible.

Its position is markedExternal link with a green pin on my annotated satellite view.

The Hundred Steps

An old track leads up from Renton, heading through the woods and then uphill between two fields, before it crosses the moor; it heads towards Carman Reservoir, but veers away before reaching it, heading instead to the former site of Carman Farm (that is, the building later known as Carman House, standing to the west of the reservoir). It is likely that the track was created to provide access to Carman Farm.

Many years ago, I was told, rightly or not, that this was a former drove road; certainly, the fact that it is enclosed between prominent but well-separated ridges (see the pictures below) where it crosses the open moor, and between walls on the approach to the moor, makes it seem well adapted for moving cattle. It is therefore likely that this route saw some use in taking livestock to the cattle fair at Carman Hill. The original line of the track has been interrupted by the construction of the A82 dual carriageway.
NS3878 : Path through the woods by Lairich RigNS3878 : Path through the woods by Lairich RigNS3878 : Path through the woods by Lairich RigThrough the woods.
NS3878 : The Hundred Steps by Lairich RigNS3878 : The Hundred Steps by Lairich RigNS3878 : The Hundred Steps by Lairich RigThis part, ascending between fields, is called the Hundred Steps.
NS3878 : Old road by Lairich RigNS3778 : Old road by Lairich RigNS3778 : Old road by Lairich RigThis level section is bounded by two gorse-covered ridges, 14 metres apart.
NS3778 : Remains of a road by Lairich RigNS3778 : Woods beside path by Lairich RigNS3778 : Remains of a road by Lairich Rig(middle) The more northerly ridge remains visible in the woods.

The old track is still well used as a footpath, and it is signposted as such from Upper Carman Road. The name "the Hundred Steps" is one that I and others have long associated with a certain part of this old road: specifically, the part where it ascends between fields. Before that part of the path was improved and made smooth in 2006, there were, not steps, but a few cobble-like stones at various places along the way, and this gave rise to the local name. Back then, there was little difference between the path and the small burn that now follows a channel to its side; the burn flowed across the path in several places, and along it in others.

KML

( Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 )
You are not logged in login | register