NS3977 : The former Pillanflatt

taken 12 years ago, near to Renton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title The former Pillanflatt in this square
The former Pillanflatt
The former Pillanflatt
The "Atlas of Scotland" (published by Joan Blaeu in 1654, but based on the surveying work of Timothy Pont in the 1580s-90s), in its "Levinia" (Lennox) map, shows "Pillonflett" with "Dalmowack" (modern Dalmoak) to the south and "O. and N. Dalwhurn" (Over and Nether Dalquhurn cf. NS3878 : Remains of Nether Dalquhurn Farm) to the north. The name is spelled in various ways in different documents (e.g. Pelanysflait), and, unlike Dalmoak and Dalquhurn, did not continue in use as a place-name down to the present day.

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UPDATE (June 2018): I have not come across any source(*) that says exactly where the farm of Pillanflatt was located in recent centuries (it had disappeared before the first OS maps of the area were made). That absence of information motivated me to do my own research.

[(*) G W S Barrow, in his scholarly work "Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland", does give the general area; he mentions an eighteenth-century map "suggesting that it [Pillanflatt] was situated just to the north of Mains of Cardross". This observation is useful, but, as will become clear below, this gives only the vaguest indication of the area. The nineteenth-century (1841) plan that I consulted allows the site of the farm to be located to a precision of a few tens of metres, by comparison with the 1860 OS map; it was about 800 metres north of the Mains of Cardross Farm that existed until the mid-twentieth century.]

A careful comparison of that plan with the first-edition OS map (surveyed 1860) reveals that the Pillanflatt farm buildings stood just north of a point about halfway along a track that is still in existence (note, though, that it now runs a little south of its 1841/1860 line). The track is known locally as the Howgate; see Link for pictures of that path. The track, as shown on the canal plan, exactly duplicates the turns that are shown on the 1860 OS map.

The Pillanflatt farm buildings stood close to where the 1860 OS map (see LinkExternal link to view that map online) shows a "Sand Pit". That sandpit is, on that map, not far south of the prominent label "Dalquhurn Dye Works", and just east of the figure ".948". In terms of modern-day OS grid references, the Pillanflatt farmhouse of the early 19th century was at or very near to NS39007755. In terms of features in existence in 2018, that location is at the southern end of the Dalquhurn housing development; specifically, at the far end (the south-western end) of Taylor Street (housing built c.2011).

See my Geograph article Link for the full details, and for the relevant parts of the 1841 plan and the 1860 OS map. The article also accounts for the thorough removal of the farm buildings between 1841 and 1860.

I have marked the former site of the farm buildings with marker pins on the annotated satellite map that is linked from the "Pillanflatt" end-note. For what it is worth, my own estimate is that those locations are accurate to within 50 metres or so.

Another piece of information from the 1841 plan is that the area where the Howgate meets the western bank of the River Leven used to be called Sandyholme, a name that does not appear on any OS maps, and which no longer seems to be known locally.

See Link for my own detailed discussion of the "Mains of Cardross" mentioned above; as it happens, Mains of Cardross (that is, the farm of that name, which existed into the twentieth century) is about 800 metres from the former site of Pillanflatt farmhouse.

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In recent times (from about 2009), claims that King Robert the Bruce's royal residence were located somewhere in the area shown in the present photograph have received extensive newspaper coverage. However, others favour a site at nearby Mains of Cardross; see NS3976 : Mains of Cardross Canal.

In more recent times, the field shown in the present photograph was used in connection with the local dyeing and textiles industry. Just to the north, on the far side the track known as the Howgate (NS3977 : The Howgate), was the site of Dalquhurn Dye Works, which were established in the early eighteenth century.

In its entry for Renton (on page 796), the book "The Making of Scotland" (Smith/Hume/Lawson, 2001) says that the softness of the Loch Lomond water was one factor in the decision to create a bleachfield site beside the River Leven in 1715. The operation later grew in scale: "Fine linen was treated there from 1727, financially aided by the Trustees" (this is a reference to the Board of Trustees for Manufactures, which was formed in 1727).

As explained in "A Short History of Dumbartonshire" (Dr I.M.M.MacPhail, 1962), large bleachfields (12 acres in extent) were laid out at Dalquhurn in 1727-28 "with the help of a government subsidy of 600. Workmen were brought over from Holland to introduce Dutch methods, which at that time involved laying out the unbleached linen on hedges between which water was brought in narrow channels so that the linen could be soaked at regular intervals and dry again in the sun, the process taking several weeks in summer time". By the end of the eighteenth century, cotton was being treated, rather than linen.

For a more detailed account of the history of the Dalquhurn bleachfields, see LinkExternal link (at the Vale of Leven website); see also NS3977 : The former site of Dalquhurn House.

[In 1828, the Dalquhurn works were extended; this marked the beginning of the local Turkey-red textile dyeing industry, for which the Vale of Leven would become renowned. Pages 297-304 of D. Bremner's book "The Industries of Scotland their Rise, Progress and Present Condition" (1869; A & C Black, Edinburgh) are devoted to the Dalquhurn Dye Works and Cordale Printfields, and give a detailed description of the processes involved in Turkey-red dyeing.]

The first-edition OS map of 1860 shows a pattern of water channels in this field; they do not appear on later maps. The dual carriageway and its associated slip roads now overlie some of that area. Of those parts that are still exposed, there appear to be no visible traces of most of the old water channels; some apparent exceptions turn out to be places where later walls or fences had been built along the course of the old channels; it is probably the traces of those later boundaries that are currently visible. However, part of the NS3877 : The line of an old track is still clear to see.

[For more details, see the end-note for a link to an annotated satellite view showing the locations of various features depicted on the OS maps between 1860 and 1938; the individual features on that map have accompanying notes which provide further information.]

Note, also, the raised course of the cycle route in the foreground of the photograph. This was shown as a raised track on the 1860 map; again, see the annotated satellite image for the details. Appropriately, then, when this field occasionally floods (as can happen when an incoming tide meets a River Leven that is swollen by prolonged rainfall), the cycle route alone may remain usable, with the land on each side of it submerged: NS3977 : Cycle path crossing flooded field.

Although the field otherwise appears, at first sight, to be relatively flat and featureless, traces of several of the walls or fences that are shown on the 1:10560 OS map of 1938 can still be seen. For example, the clump of trees at the right-hand side of the image is an indication of one such boundary. For other such traces, see NS3977 : The former Pillanflatt.

The field is currently used for cattle grazing, and is associated with Dalmoak Farm (NS3876 : Dalmoak Farm).

The houses in the distance are in the Tontine Park area of Renton, and the background hills are Carman Hill and neighbouring moors.
Pillanflatt :: NS3877

The land of Pillanflatt lay between Dalquhurn and Mains of Cardross, and is mentioned in medieval records in connection with the Cardross residence of King Robert the Bruce. See a Geograph article Link for the precise location of Pillanflatt's farm buildings. See LinkExternal link for an annotated satellite view, showing features that are depicted on the 1:10560 OS maps from 1864 to 1938, in relation to the present-day landscape. A path that runs along the northern edge of the meadow here is known locally as the Howgate: Link

National Cycle Network Route 7 :: NX7662

The Lochs and Glens (North) route covers 214 miles from Inverness to Glasgow. The Lochs and Glens (South) covers 193 miles from Glasgow to Carlisle via the Ayrshire coast, Kirkcudbright and Dumfries. It continues east as the Coast to Coast C2C route to Sunderland.

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NS3977, 335 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Saturday, 17 October, 2009   (more nearby)
Thursday, 25 February, 2010
Geographical Context
Farm, Fishery, Market Gardening 
Near (from Tags)
River Leven  Dalquhurn 
Former (from Tags)
Person (from Tags)
Robert the Bruce 
Field   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3920 7723 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.6650N 4:34.6494W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 3927 7718
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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Other Tags
Toponymy  Pillanflatt  Field  National Cycle Network  NCN 7 

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