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Crutherland Cave Calderglen

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Crutherland Cave, 2009
Crutherland Cave
© Christopher Ladds

Crutherland Cave lies just outside Calderglen Country Park, East Kilbride, and has been described as follows:

Slightly outside the confines of Calderglen Country Park, in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire is an area in Glassford Parish known as the Crutherland Estate. The main residence of the estate was Crutherland House which is now known as the Crutherland Hotel. Within the polices of the former Crutherland Estate and slightly south of where the Rotten Burn meets the Calder Water is a cave nestled in the rockface. The shady den sits at the top of a romantically, rugged crag and is of snug dimensions; fitting about 8-10 people crammed in. Many inscriptions of people's initials and so on mark the feature inside and out, including a date of the late 1700s. There is also a possible ancient Viking inscription on the northern wall of the cave, but this has not been confirmed. How the feature was formed is uncertain, but it does not appear to be manmade. Such a cave may have been used by the ancient pagan tribes who used to inhabit this area in the 1st-6th centuries. The cave may have even served as a hiding place for the local lairds in times of danger, such as when the English army burned down the nearby Torrance House, due to the local lairds being sympathetic to the Hamiltons. In the riverbed of the Calder Water nearby can be seen preserved ancient footprints of various species including birds. Slightly to the south of this feature at the base of the rock face an entire slice of rock has been excavated deep into the rock face. This is without doubt an ironstone mine which dates from the late 1700s/mid 1800s. These features are generally very unknown, however, the local fishermen who fish the Calder seem to know about the two caves.

Niven's History of East Kilbride Parish, 1965, describes the confluence of the Rotten Burn with the Calder Water as being a remote spot which was popular for the illicit stilling of moonshine whisky during the 18th century. The pot still or 'worm' was on one occasion hidden there whilst the moonshiners were away, and a local cadger whilst collecting thatch, found and stole the worm and hid it in the nearby Clamps Wood. The Cave being in such close proximity to the site of the confluence, coupled with the deliberate secluded appearance of the cave, may suggest the two relate. Many caves in Scotland were used for smuggling, and it is entirely possible the cave was used for storing the pot still, moonshine whisky, or both. Therefore it may have once went by the name of a moonshiner's cave, or smuggler's cave. However any such records are now lost.
- Christopher Ladds


  • Archives of Christopher Ladds, local Calderglen Historian
  • Personal experiences of Christopher Ladds
  • Photographic collection of Christopher Ladds
  • East Kilbride, History of Parish, Niven, 1965.

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