NS5479 : Pillar Craig

taken 5 years ago, near to Netherton, Stirling, Great Britain

Pillar Craig
Pillar Craig
There are several basaltic formations here in the Squirrel Wood, and nearby, but the Pillar Craig is the most spectacular of them (see the end-note). Dense tree cover extends almost to the foot of the crag, making an unobstructed distant view impossible; the present picture is a wide-angle view from near the base of the pillars, showing the central part of the crag. Click on the end-note title for other views.

Other named basaltic formations in the Squirrel Wood include NS5479 : Craigbrock and NS5479 : Cat Craig, both of which are near the public footpath that leads through the woods (compare also NS5479 : Igneous outcrops beside forestry track, not far outside these woods). The Pillar Craig, by contrast, is some way off the public footpath, though another path does lead to its top.

The feature is mentioned more than once by J G Smith in his 1886 book "The Parish of Strathblane": one of those comments is quoted in the end-note to this item. He also mentions it in connection with the Battle of Mugdock (750); for the relevant passage, see NS5479 : Cat Craig.

Iain C Lees, in his 1933 book "The Campsies and the Land of Lennox", describes his own visit to the site: "I walked on until I came to the Pillar Craig, whose summit is crowned with basaltic columns regular in shape, as if man had contrived with Nature to give them definite forms".

A little earlier than J G Smith's book, a fine description of the Pillar Craig appeared in Hugh MacDonald's "Rambles Around Glasgow" (1860); the present photograph, with its necessarily foreshortened perspective, does not adequately convey the scale of this geological feature, but MacDonald's description better impresses it upon the reader:

"The 'Pillar Craig' is so called from a magnificent range of basaltic columns with which the summit is crowned. ... Let the reader imagine a steep precipice, thirty or perhaps forty feet in height, composed of immense columns of basalt of hexagonal, octagonal, and quadrangular forms, and regular in outline as if they had been the work of the chisel rather than the produce of a material law! Most of these are of course in firm juxtaposition with each other, but in various instances the pillars stand erect and almost isolated; while one broken column has fallen from its original position, and projects perpendicularly to a height of four or five feet from the debris below, .... This ponderous fragment is an octagon, judging by the eye, of about three feet in diameter."

The present picture was taken from a point beside that fallen column.

The Pillar Craig is an impressive feature, but one that is hidden away in the woods, well off the main path. Perhaps for that reason, it has largely been forgotten in modern times.
Pillar Craig
This north-facing crag, which is named on large-scale OS mapping, consists of a line of tall regular basalt columns. It is probably the best example of such a feature in the Strathblane area: "the south side of the strath has also its rocky cliffs and wooded terraces and fine basaltic columns, particularly at the Pillar Craig on the Craigallian estate" [J G Smith, "The Parish of Strathblane" (1886), page 3].
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NS5479, 32 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 20 June, 2014   (more nearby)
Saturday, 26 July, 2014
Geographical Context
Geological interest  Rocks, Scree, Cliffs 
Primary Subject of Photo
Image Buckets ?
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 5409 7947 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:59.1569N 4:20.4247W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 5409 7948
View Direction
South-southwest (about 202 degrees)
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Other Tags
Columnar Jointing  The Squirrel Wood 

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Image classification(about): Geograph
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