NS5479 : Cat Craig

taken 7 years ago, near to Netherton, Stirling, Great Britain

Cat Craig
Cat Craig
This crag, in the Squirrel Wood, is a basaltic formation, one of several in this area (the most impressive of them is the NS5479 : Pillar Craig; see also NS5479 : Craigbrock and NS5479 : Igneous outcrops beside forestry track).

Cat Craig is named on large-scale OS mapping, and is visible from the public footpath that leads through the woods, but it is rather overgrown, and obscured by trees.

In his book "The Parish of Strathblane" (1886), J G Smith mentions this crag by name, linking it to a battle that occurred in 750 (and which is often called the Battle of Mugdock) between the Picts and the Britons. He explains "Cat Craig" as meaning "Battle Rock", and he links various other place-names nearby with events in the same battle (I quote that passage below).

My own view is that it is highly unlikely that such a detailed account of the ancient battle has come down to us in tradition; mainly for that reason, I consider it much more likely that Cat Craig simply means "crag of the cat" (probably the wildcat, Gael. "cat fiadhaich"). On a similar theme, there is a NS5479 : Craigbrock nearby, whose name probably means "crag of the badger".

[Readers interested in a modern assessment of the sources related to the Battle of Mugdock may wish to look at LinkExternal link (Senchus site at Wordpress).]

Other places Smith mentions in his account of the Battle of Mugdock include the NS5479 : Pillar Craig; NS5380 : Duntreath Standing Stones, which certainly pre-date the battle of 750 by very many centuries; "Blair's Hill", which is at NS53947977; and "Alreoch", which is at NS53757973. Smith gives explanations for these place-names that seem to tie in well with the traditions, but which do not stand up to modern scrutiny (I point this out because they are still sometimes quoted: see NS5279 : Information about the Carbeth Inn and surrounding area).

While his description of the battle and his place-name etymologies are unsound, they do at least serve as an interesting record of the prevailing beliefs of the time. The relevant passage, which I cite only for its curiosity value, is as follows:

"The field of this battle can be traced with but little difficulty. The Cymric army was posted on the high ground on Craigallian then part of Mugdock above and to the east and west of the Pillar Craig, with outposts stationed on the lower plateau to the north, and there awaited the Picts, who came up Strathblane valley through Killearn from the north on their way to the interior of Cumbria. Near the top of the Cult Brae, in a line with the Pillar Craig, there is a rock still called Catcraig, i.e., Cadcraig, meaning the "Battle Rock," and in their efforts to dislodge the Cymric army, whom they could not leave in their rear to fall upon them when they had passed, the Picts doubtless had penetrated thus far and here the battle began. It was continued all over Blair or Blairs Hill, i.e., the "Hill of Battle" the rising ground on Carbeth Guthrie which commands the valley of the Blane and Allereoch or Alreoch, i.e., the "King's Rock," was certainly so named from being the place where King Talargan fell when the defeated Picts were being driven back to the north-west. The standing stones to the south-east of Dungoyach probably mark the burial place of Cymric or Pictish warriors who fell in the bloody battle of Mugdock."
[J G Smith, "The Parish of Strathblane" (1886), page 8].
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NS5479, 36 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 20 June, 2014   (more nearby)
Saturday, 26 July, 2014
Geographical Context
Woodland, Forest  Rocks, Scree, Cliffs 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 5435 7941 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:59.1293N 4:20.1729W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 5437 7943
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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Other Tags
Toponymy  The Squirrel Wood 

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