NS3975 : The ruins of St Serf's Church

taken 13 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

The ruins of St Serf's Church
The ruins of St Serf's Church
St Serf's was the old Parish Church of Cardross (the Parish of Cardross is not to be confused with the modern village of Cardross; the old parish embraced a much larger area). The remains of this church lie in a shaded spot in NS3974 : Levengrove Park (see that link for context). For a wider view of the ruins, see NS3975 : The ruins of St Serf's Church. The church was part of a clachan called Kirkton of Cardross. See the link in the end-note for further details.

The ruined church is historically noteworthy as the resting place of the internal organs of King Robert the Bruce (as is described in detail in a separate article: NS3975 : Plaque beside the ruins of St Serf's church). The church therefore dates to the fourteenth century or earlier.

In 1570, Lord Fleming, who was holding Dumbarton Castle on behalf of the supporters of Mary Queen of Scots, demolished much of this church, as well as several other buildings that belonged to supporters of James VI (who was still an infant; he had been formally crowned in 1567, but, in 1570, a regent was still ruling on his behalf). Fleming then had the stones carried off to the castle. This church has therefore been a ruin for many centuries.

In the seventeenth century, the boundaries of Cardross Parish were redrawn; afterwards, they no longer included the area that is now Levengrove Park. In 1643-4, a parish church was built in what is now the present-day village of Cardross; it was replaced by a second church on the same site in 1862-7 (NS3477 : Cardross Old Parish Church). After the latter church was damaged during the blitz, a former Free Church became the new parish church: NS3477 : Cardross Parish Church.

As for the ruin of St Serf's, shown in this photo, an inscription, in the shape of an arched doorway, is visible on the wall (at the centre of the photo); this inscription describes much more recent burials than that of Robert the Bruce; it begins as follows:

"IHS / Fortes Fortuna Juvat / 1885

Erected by Robert Dixon of Levengrove
to the sacred memory of his father
Robert Dixon, late of Levengrove
who died in October 1862 aged 32 years
and whose remains with those of other
members of the Dixon family were interred
within the limits of these ruins."

[The Latin expression "Fortes Fortuna Juvat" means "Fortune Favours the Bold"; it is the motto of Clan Dickson/Dixon. A later addition to the inscription mentions a Robert Archibald Dixon (son of the first-mentioned Robert Dixon in the inscription), who was killed in action in 1916.]

The Dixon family rose to prominence through their association with the glassworks industry in Dumbarton in the early nineteenth century. See: NS3975 : The Artizan Bridge. The inscriptions on the gravestones visible in this photo are very worn, but the taller of the two stones near the left-hand side of the far wall bears the initials "R.D." on top.
Ruins of St Serf's Church

This was the ancient parish church for Cardross Parish. Its ruins are located in what is now Levengrove Park Link and some much later memorials for various members of the Dixon family (who were connected with Dumbarton's Glassworks) are now located within its walls. See Link (in a Geograph article) for further comments.

Levengrove Park :: NS3974

The lands of Levengrove were originally part of an area named Ferrylands, so called because, before Dumbarton Bridge was built in 1765, the River Leven was crossed by means of a ferry. John Dixon, a Dumbarton merchant, acquired Levengrove in 1805 from Richard Dennistoun of Kelvingrove (in Glasgow).

The Dixons built Levengrove House (demolished c.1880), whose former grounds make up much of what is now the park. In 1885, Levengrove Park, 32 acres in area, was gifted to the town of Dumbarton by Dr Peter Denny and John McMillan (son of local shipbuilder Archibald McMillan), the expense to them being 20,000.

The park contains the ruins of St Serf's Church Link anciently the parish church of Cardross. That church was at one time part of a cluster of buildings, a clachan, that is marked as "Little Kirktoun" on the Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox. The ruined church was later used by the Dixon family as a burial place: see Link (in a Geograph article).

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NS3975, 598 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 23 September, 2008   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 24 September, 2008
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts 
Ruin (from Tags)
Place (from Tags)
Person (from Tags)
Robert the Bruce  Mary Queen of Scots 
Church   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3935 7501 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.4724N 4:34.4260W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3933 7501
View Direction
EAST (about 90 degrees)
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Levengrove Park 

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