NS3975 : Ancient stones, Glencairn's Greit House

taken 9 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Ancient stones, Glencairn's Greit House
Ancient stones, Glencairn's Greit House
These stones are located above the entrance, on the High Street, of a vaulted passageway that leads to NS3975 : Quay Pend. The passage runs through Glencairn's Greit House. The two stones can be seen above the entrance at the lower-left corner of NS3975 : Glencairn's Greit House.

Although the house itself is very old, the stones are from a much earlier structure. In his book "Dumbarton Ancient and Modern" (1893), Donald MacLeod mentions that "right over the arch which pierces the Glencairn Mansion, and gives access to Quay Pend", there are embedded in the wall two stones "from the venerable Collegiate Church of St Mary. These are in the shape of projecting corbel stones".

His book illustrates the lower stone, which appears to represent shoulders and a head, with a face looking straight down; the features are now much more worn than when illustrated, but can still be picked out. The upper stone is not illustrated in the book, but there are suggestions of a face on its front: most noticeably, there is what is probably an open mouth, with a pair of eyes above it (compare NS4673 : Burial place of Hamilton of Barns (detail), in the kirkyard at Old Kilpatrick).

Dumbarton's Tolbooth used to stand on the opposite side of the street (at c.NS39547524, directly opposite the short lane that leads to the riverside), and another building, called the Mackenzie House, stood beside it (both of those buildings are now long gone). Built into the Mackenzie House were what are thought to have been other remnants of the Collegiate Church. The Mackenzie House was built in 1732, enlarged in 1790, and demolished in 1907 ["Dumbarton Herald", issue of 12 June 1907, page 4], and the considerably older Tolbooth was removed c.1830. However, one of the Collegiate Church fragments that had been incorporated into the Mackenzie House is now built into Dumbarton Library: NS3975 : Old stone, Dumbarton Library.

See LinkExternal link (at Canmore) for an old print of the Tolbooth (on left, with barred windows) and the Mackenzie House. Note the similarity of the dormer windows of the Mackenzie House to those of Glencairn's Greit House; above the central dormer window of the Mackenzie House, in that picture, is the old stone that is now built into Dumbarton Library (for which, see the link given above).

Although other fragments survive (MacLeod mentions some that were, by his intervention, rescued from a tip), the only substantial surviving piece of the Collegiate Church, which was founded c.1450, is NS3975 : The College Bow. As is mentioned in passing in the description for NS4075 : Gruggies Burn, the Collegiate Church was largely destroyed during the Reformation; even by the mid-seventeenth century, it was viewed as a convenient source of stone for construction work.
Glencairn's Greit House

The house was built for the Earls of Glencairn, and dates back to 1623, if not earlier. Although much modified since then, it is Dumbarton's oldest standing building. See LinkExternal link for a photograph of it, taken in the 1890s.

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NS3975, 592 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Thursday, 16 June, 2011   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 22 June, 2011
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Housing, Dwellings 
Period (from Tags)
15th Century 
Image Buckets ?
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3950 7523 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.5939N 4:34.2899W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3950 7523
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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Other Tags
Corbel Stone  St Marys Collegiate Church 

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