NS3878 : Black Castle

taken 8 years ago, near to Renton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Black Castle
Black Castle
The name Black Castle does not just apply to this particular spot, but includes the surrounding wooded area. The name does not appear on any maps, but many local people, particularly those of the older generation, will be familiar with it. See Link for related pictures. This area is a NS3878 : Former quarry, long disused; see that link for further details.

[The second end-note has a link to an annotated satellite view: on that map, the site is indicated by a pale blue marker ("Black Castle") at the eastern extremity of one of the pale blue lines, near Carman Reservoir.]

Over the many decades since the quarry fell into disuse, it has become densely wooded and overgrown. As mentioned at the last-cited link, the way the quarry was worked has resulted in its having a terraced appearance in several places (see NS3878 : Former quarry), particularly at the eastern end, where the present picture was taken. Some of those terraces are fringed by low walls, the faces where the stone was worked; there is one such rock face at the centre of this picture, but it is overgrown with ferns and other vegetation.

The name Black Castle is at least a few decades old. However, before proceeding, I should stress that the explanation of it that I am about to give is speculation on my part.

As the area has been described to me, there are stones visible here (see, for example, NS3778 : Woodland beside Carman Reservoir) and what looks like the foundations of buildings.

This being a quarry, there can hardly have been buildings here. However, the various terrace-like areas fringed with low stone walls may have suggested, to walkers passing through, the appearance of ruins, and this perhaps inspired the name Black Castle (possibly "black" because located in the shade of the woods). Decades ago, when the area was not quite so overgrown, those features would have been more clearly visible than they are now.

In short, the name Black Castle may simply have seemed an appropriate nickname; even those who coined the name probably did not seriously imagine that there had ever been a castle here.

Particularly at the western end of the former quarry, the construction of NS3778 : Carman Reservoir in the 1880s, from the smaller pre-existing Carman Loch (which had itself been artificially created), is also likely to have left its mark on the area. For more on the formation of the reservoir, see the link just cited.

There are a few references to a "Carman Quarry" in older literature, but that name seems to refer to a later quarry, which is a little over a kilometre WNW of here, and which had its own set of traditions associated with it: NS3678 : Carman Quarry.
Black Castle :: NS3778

Black Castle is the local name for a large quarry, long disused, and now greatly overgrown, that is located beside the south-eastern extremity of Carman Reservoir.

Carman Muir: outcrops and old quarry pits :: NS3778

See Link (in a Geograph article) for further information, and LinkExternal link for an annotated satellite view 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 to the south of Cardross Road is determined to a large extent by cornstone deposits, which outcrop in 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, and the cornstone outcrops are marked by orange pins.

This area, lying to the south of Cardross Road, exemplifies what the British Geological Survey refers to as the Kinnesswood Formation (see LinkExternal link at the BGS website for more information); this formation contains cornstone deposits.

Beside and to the north of Cardross Road are outcrops of 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). Another prominent example lies at the ENE end of that line: a large disused red sandstone quarry, the old Fairy Knowe Quarry (later known as Carman Quarry) Link at NS36967900. This area beside and to the north of the road exemplifies the Stockiemuir Sandstone Formation (see LinkExternal link at the BGS website for further details).

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 to the south of the road.

The annotated satellite view also includes markers for various antiquities in the area:

● Ancient cairns: Link
● Circular enclosure: Link (originally reported as a hut circle)
● Carman (house): Link
● Carman (enclosure): Link
● Carman (field system): Link

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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NS3878, 295 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 16 August, 2013   (more nearby)
Saturday, 5 October, 2013
Geographical Context
Quarrying, Mining  Derelict, Disused  Woodland, Forest 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 381 785 [100m precision]
WGS84: 55:58.3758N 4:35.7257W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 381 785
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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