NS3978 : Arum berries

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

Arum berries
Arum berries
These berries of Arum maculatum (Lords-and-Ladies, Cuckoo-pint, etc.) are ripe, fit to burst. The plant is poisonous, containing crystals of certain oxalates which have an irritant effect. These particular plants are likely to have accumulated some additional toxins from their extremely contaminated habitat: NS3978 : Former site of building on Cordale Point.
Cordale Point
[ˈkɔɾdəlˠ] (that is, it is stressed on the first syllable, and sounds as if it were written "cordle"). This is one of the two named Points on the River Leven, the other being Dalquhurn Point Link a little further downriver (questionably, Sandpoint might be added, but it is at the confluence with the Clyde).

On pages 56 of "The Vale of Leven" (1975), J Agnew mentions that there used to be evidence of a change in the course of the River Leven opposite Cordale Point, but that this geological evidence was destroyed when "the embankment on the Bonhill side was lowered some twenty feet about 1941, and the hummocks levelled off". The book contains further comments about the change of course and about embankments that had been built here in the past.

As early as 1770, Cordale Point had been the site of a printworks. In that year, William Stirling, son of a Virginia merchant, feued the lands of Cordale and erected the Cordale Print Works, operated by his firm, William Stirling & Sons. He had Cordale House (now gone) built nearby, at c.NS39097881, near the neck of Cordale Point. In 1860, the house was the property of James Stirling, but in 1866, John Matheson, formerly of Dalquhurn Cottage, moved there. In 1876, he assumed full management of the firm William Stirling & Sons. The firm was one of those that amalgamated in 1898 to form United Turkey Red. Work ceased at Cordale Point in 1942.

The remains of the Print Works on Cordale Point are shown on older OS maps. At the time of writing, relics of structures exist on the point, though mainly in the form of trip hazards such as pits and ditches; the ground is in any case contaminated. There is a footpath around the point; signs alongside it warn walkers not to leave the path, because of contaminated land. The contaminated soil is variously white, pink, or blue, with elevated levels of arsenic, chromium, and lead. Lead levels are particularly high in the pink soils.

Norman Duncan, in his 1998 publication "Forgotten History of the Vale of Leven 16981998", mentions that during the Second World War, "the Dalmonach and Cordale works buildings were opened up and used by the Army and Navy as barracks".

A building remains standing at NS39307876; I have been informed that it was the power house for the Cordale Works. The bell from the works is on view at NS38578225, at Loch Lomond Shores.

A lade that passes through the neck of the Point is known by local anglers as Ritchie's Lade. I presume that it takes its name from Robert Ritchie, who was manager of the Cordale Works, and who died in 1900. Many decades ago (c.1950s), when the inlets and outlets were still open, some youngsters used to float through the lade on rafts.

A nearby area of housing is called Cordale. Several decades ago, it was officially renamed Kirkland, after a respected local doctor, but the name seems not to have stuck.
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NS3978, 182 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 5 October, 2012   (more nearby)
Sunday, 4 November, 2012
Geographical Context
Derelict, Disused  Industry 
Image Buckets ?
Closeup  Life 
Place (from Tags)
Cordale Point 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3943 7853 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:58.3697N 4:34.4751W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3943 7853
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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Poisonous Plant 

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