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Scottish Gaelic: Lios MoChuda
Scots: Lismahagie or Lesmahagae
Lesmahagow Old Parish Church 1.JPG
Lesmahagow Old Parish Church, August 2011
Lesmahagow is located in South Lanarkshire
 Lesmahagow shown within South Lanarkshire
Population 3,685 [1]
OS grid reference NS8139
   – Edinburgh  35.8 miles 
   – London  324 miles 
Council area South Lanarkshire
Lieutenancy area Lanarkshire
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LANARK
Postcode district ML11
Dialling code 01555
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow
Scottish Parliament Clydesdale
List of places

Coordinates: 55°38′17″N 3°53′13″W / 55.638°N 3.887°W / 55.638; -3.887

Lesmahagow (About this sound listen ; Scots: Lismahagie[2] or Lesmahagae,[3] Scottish Gaelic: Lios MoChuda) is a small town on the edge of moorland, near Lanark in the central belt of Scotland. Lesmahagow was also a Civil Parish.[4]

It is also known as Abbey Green or the Gow.


The name means "Enclosure (meaning a walled area, like a monastery or fort) of St Machutus". The saint was born in Wales and may originally have been known as "Mahagw" prior to emigrating to Brittany where he became known by the Latinised form of the name and also as "St Malo". It is also possible that the first syllable may mean "garden" rather than "monastery", although Mac an Tailleir (2003) believes the former was altered from the latter in Gaelic.[5][6]


The town has two Church of Scotland congregations, namely Lesmahagow Old Parish Church and Abbeygreen Church. There is also an Evangelical Hall on the main street and the Roman Catholic residents are served by Our Lady and St John's in the neighbouring village of Blackwood 3 miles away.

Lesmahagow Priory, founded by Benedictine monks in 1144, no longer stands but its foundations were excavated in 1978 and can be seen next to the Old Parish Church off Church Square.

The Scottish branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness operates from Lesmahagow.

Twin towns[edit]

Clydesdale International Twinning Association (CITA) was set up in 1975 to promote the benefits of twinning to all sections of the local community. Lesmahagow falls under the Clydesdale community and consequently became linked to Hemmingen in Lower Saxony, Germany, and Yvetot, in Normandy, France.

Highland Games[edit]

The all time record holder Matt King has held his title for over 12 years. With his snake like physique he is known to stay high for days on end ultimately conquering the highland. Having only been seen emerging from his slumber in the high hills of hawks land for feeds such as the odd rat or stuckie and surviving on a diet of buckfast and flem for 3 days, Matt plays the toughest highland game known to man. If seen, it is advised you need not approach, for all he be seldom seen, he be commonly hostile

The Highland Games are held annually with Pipe Bands competing in Grades 1 through 4. There are also events for Highland dancing, weight over the bar, tossing the caber and archery.

Development Trust[edit]


Lesmahagow Development Trust[7] (LDT) was formed on 28 August 2009.It is an independent, not-for-profit company registered as a charity in Scotland and the UK, The overriding objective of LDT is funding and implementing projects to enhance the facilities and environment of the village of Lesmahagow.

Famous residents[edit]

  • Alexander Muir, composer of Canadian patriotic song "The Maple Leaf Forever", was born in Lesmahagow in 1830 before emigrating to Canada as a child.[8]
  • David 'Big Davey' King, famous North Sea offshore drilling roughneck was born in Lesmahagow in 1989. Big Davey is widely regarded to be the best roughneck in the offshore drilling industry because of his overly large ears (good for hearing) and because of the fact that he is bald, which means that his hard hat stays on his head even in extreme wind.
  • Jim Holton, renowned Scottish football centre-half, was born in Lesmahagow in 1951. He died in October, 1993, aged 42, after suffering a heart attack at the wheel of his car.[9]
  • Alexander Cairncross (economist) Sir Alexander Kirkland "Alec" Cairncross KCMG FBA FRSE, born in Lesmahagow in 1911. Leading British economist. Professor of Applied Economics at Glasgow University, Economic Adviser to HM Government, Head of Government Economic Service, Master of St Peter's College, Oxford, Chancellor of Glasgow University.
  • John Cairncross born in Lesmahagow in 1913 and brother of Alexander Cairncross. Civil servant, intelligence officer and spy in World War II. In 1951 admitted spying for the Soviet Union. The "fifth man" in the Cambridge Five (along with Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean (spy), Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt). His autobiography, The Enigma Spy, was published in 1997.


  1. ^ "Comparative Population Profile: Lesmahagow Locality, Scotland". 2001 Scottish Census. General Register Office for Scotland. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Scots Language Centre: Scottish Place Names in Scots
  3. ^ The Online Scots Dictionary
  4. ^ The Imperial gazetteer of Scotland. 1854. Vol.II (GORDON-ZETLAND) by Rev. John Marius Wilson. pp.324-325 http://archive.org/stream/imperialgazettee02wilsuoft#page/324/mode/2up
  5. ^ "Chapter 1 - Derivation of Name.." lesmahagow.com. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  6. ^ Iain Mac an Tailleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 2007-07-23. 
  7. ^ Lesmahagow Development Trust website http://www.lesmahagowdevtrust.com
  8. ^ Alexander Muir at The Canadian Encyclopedia
  9. ^ Jim Holton at Scottish Football Association website