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The Carstairs meanders near Carnwath

Carnwath (Gaelic: A' Chathair Nuadh; English: "New Fort" is a moorland village on the southern edge of the Pentland Hills of South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The village lies about 30 mi (50 km) south of both Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is bounded by the North Medwyn and South Medwyn watercourses.

Population 1447.

Carnwath is a farming village or small town set in rolling countryside, on the edge of open moorland and with views to the Pentland Hills. Its proximity to the A70 makes it popular with commuters to Edinburgh.

Carnwath is at the heart of Scotland's central belt and has been reputed to be the 'town' furthest away from the sea anywhere in Scotland, though only being 26 miles from the coastal resort of Portobello, it falls well short of the distance from the sea of towns such as Kingussie and Pitlochry.

Carnwath comprises a single street, set in open moorland. Little remains of the castle, but the impressive motte on which it was built can still be seen at Carnwath Golf Club, founded in 1907 at the west end of the village.

Carnwath also hosts the oldest foot race in Scotland - and probably Europe - The Red Hose Race, dating back to March 13th 1508. It has seen many changes over almost 500 years but the running of The Red Hose is still a strong tradition in Carnwath. Hose was the Scots word for stockings or long socks, and each year a foot race is run at Carnwath and the local Laird must provide a pair of red stockings as the prize.

The Wee Bush Inn, until a recent fire, was the only pub in Scotland to have a thatched roof. For insurance reasons it has unfortunately had to be replaced with slates. The Inn's other claim to fame is that actor Oliver Reed was a regular customer.



At the centre of Carnwath is Carnwath Cross, the mercat cross, set back a little where the Main Street widens to form the Market Square. This was erected by the 5th Lord of Somerville in 1516 to celebrate the granting of burgh status to the village in 1514.

On the opposite side of the main road from the golf club and motte is Carnwath Parish Church. At first sight this looks like a fairly standard 1800s church with spire. But a stroll round the west side reveals a surprise, an almost separate tiny chapel, of a very much earlier date. This is actually St Mary's Aisle, a surviving part of the collegiate church founded here in 1425 by Thomas, First Lord Somerville and incorporating a church established in 1386.

St Mary's Aisle is the only remaining part of the Collegiate Church built in Carnwath in 1386. It stands at the west entrance to Carnwath alongside the parish church and is recognised as a Category A listed building. St Mary's Aisle is the mausoleum of the Lockhart family and previously of the Earls of Carnwath and the Lords Somerville.

In 1630, the Carnwath estate, owned by the Earl of Mar was purchased by Sir Robert Dalzell, later to become Lord Dalzell. In 1639, his son, the 2nd Lord Dalzell and also named Robert, was further elevated to become the Earl of Carnwath. The title was forfeit in 1716 when the 5th Earl, Robert Dalzell became attainted due to his support of the Jacobite cause but the titles were restored in 1826.[2][3][4]

Writer, spy and politician, George Lockhart, inherited the Carnwath estates from his father, George Lockhart of the Lockharts of Lee, who had purchased them in 1681.

The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882–1885) said of the village: "Long a dingy and disagreeable place, it has been greatly improved".[2]

There is a Gothic church that dates from 1798, directly abutting the former tiny church of 1424.

In 1845 the area became a civil parish.

Carnwath railway station, originally part of the Caledonian Railway, later the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and finally the Scottish Region of British Railways, was closed in the Beeching Axe in the 1960s.

Famous people from Carnwath include author and critic, Robert Anderson, footballer, Tom Brownlee and the Ordnance Gazetteer remarks that: "the minor poet, James Graeme (1749-72)" was a resident of the locality.[2]


There is a nursery school in the village which is part of the Biggar Learning Community, that includes the Biggar High School A new school was built and opened in 2015.[5]

A notable spell of cold weather[edit]

In January 1979 the temperature in Carnwath sank to -24.6°C, which was the lowest temperature recorded anywhere in the British Isles in the 1970s.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Visit Lanarkshire
  2. ^ a b c The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland
  3. ^ The Peerage
  4. ^ Dalzell
  5. ^ Carnwath Primary School[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "". Archived from the original on 14 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°42′02″N 003°37′30″W / 55.70056°N 3.62500°W / 55.70056; -3.62500