NS3876 : Dalreoch Quarry

taken 6 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Dalreoch Quarry
Dalreoch Quarry
The entrance to this disused quarry is on the NS3876 : Renton Road.

Dalreoch Quarry appears to be one and the same as the Jamesheid Quarry that is referred to in a 1609 charter by James VI. The identification is made, though not explicitly, on page 97 of local historian Donald MacLeod's "Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, and Loch Lomond" (1884). There, the author describes a walk from Dumbarton to the Vale of Leven. From his description, it is clear that he was following the NS3876 : Renton Road, and he writes that "when the auld toon o' Dumbarton, in our journey Renton-wards, was left half a mile or so in our rear, we passed the centuries-old quarry of Jamesheid, from which the stones were taken to build the brig o' Dumbarton". This can only be a reference to what was later called Dalreoch Quarry; there is no other in the area.

The 1609 charter already mentioned runs to great length, but the relevant portion relates to the "water works" (the flood defences against the River Leven see NS3975 : View to Broadmeadow Industrial Estate), and grants to the Provost, Bailies and Councillors of Dumbarton the right "to dig stones in the common quarry called Jamesheid lying within our property of the lands of the lordship of Cardross, to cast turf there, with power to transport the said stones and turf by the better way to the said work through any part of the foresaid lands without any impediment to be made to them by us or any person whatsoever". The text of the charter as quoted here is from the second volume of Joseph Irving's "Book of Dumbartonshire" (1879), and has clearly been modernised by the author. Note also that in 1609, when the charter was made, the quarry was within Cardross Parish: see NS3975 : The ruins of St Serf's Church.

In 1719, the embankment at the Broadmeadow that served as flood defences against the River Leven were seriously damaged; see NS3975 : View to Broadmeadow Industrial Estate for a discussion of the "Drowned Lands". Stone was to be taken from this quarry to repair the defenses. As described in the second volume of Joseph Irving's "Book of Dumbartonshire" (1879):

"In the early part of 1719, the embankments on the Broad Meadow were seriously damaged by storms and floods; and for the purpose of having them put into proper repair, the Provost suggested that a tax of two pennies Scots might be levied upon the pint of such ale as was brewed and consumed in the burgh. The resolution, or some one equivalent thereto, appears to have been adopted, as in October the necessary 'quarry graith', or quarrying implements, is ordered to be prepared for taking stones from Jameshead(*) quarry to the works then being carried on at the Meadow."

Amongst the structures that have been built using stone from Dalreoch Quarry are NS3975 : Dumbarton Bridge, NS3975 : Dumbarton West Kirk, and NS3975 : Dumbarton Public Library.

The disused quarry is now designated a "Locally Important SINC" (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation).

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(*) One otherwise excellent modern reference work on the archaeological potential of the burgh of Dumbarton says that stone was to be taken from "Jamestown Quarry" in order to effect these repairs; as support for this, it cites the passage from Irving, just quoted.

However, the name given in Irving's book is Jameshead quarry. The authors may have been mislead by the similarity of the names Jameshead and Jamestown, and they perhaps had in mind NS3979 : The former Bonhill Quarry, which is near Jamestown. Such a misidentification is understandable, since, so far as I am aware, no older authors have explicitly identified Jameshead Quarry with Dalreoch Quarry; it has to be inferred indirectly. Whether the authors of the modern reference work had that in mind or not, their mention of Jamestown Quarry might cause confusion, so it is worth saying a little more here about the identity of the quarry.

The quarry at Bonhill can be ruled out, since the 1609 charter says that Jamesheid quarry is in the lands of Cardross. Although the boundaries of Cardross Parish changed after the 1609 charter was written, Bonhill had not previously been, and is not now, in that parish. As an aside, it is also worth noting that there was no settlement near Bonhill with the name of Jamestown (NS3980 : Entering Jamestown) until much later.

Since the identification of Jameshead Quarry with Dalreoch Quarry has had to be inferred from comments by Donald MacLeod, it is also worth adding that MacLeod (NS4075 : The gravestone of Donald MacLeod) was a friend of Joseph Irving (NS4076 : The gravestone of Joseph Irving), and viewed him as his "literary father"; if there had been any doubt about which quarry Irving had in mind when he wrote about "Jameshead Quarry", MacLeod would have been well placed to find out.

Finally, Dr David Murray, in his "Old Cardross: A Lecture" (1880), includes an appendix of Cardross place-names (i.e., places that were in the old parish of Cardross; some of that land is now in Dumbarton). The appendix includes the following terse but useful entry: "Jamesheid Quarry near Dumbarton".

Another old quarry not far from this one was Kirkton Quarry, which is now long disused, its site occupied by NS3975 : Dixon Bowling Club. However, there is little danger of confusion with respect to that quarry, since it is referred to as "Kirkton Quarry" from a very early period; see the burgh records quoted at NS3975 : Dumbarton Bridge.
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NS3876, 70 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Monday, 18 February, 2013   (more nearby)
Monday, 4 March, 2013
Geographical Context
Quarrying, Mining  Derelict, Disused 
Former (from Tags)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3883 7609 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.0436N 4:34.9637W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3886 7608
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
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