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South Lanarkshire
Kirkmuirhead / Blackwood


Population 3717. Figures taken from 2001 Census.

Although two separate villages, Kirkmuirhill and Blackwood have grown and merged over the years to form a small town, although the two parts retain their own names.

Lying in the valley of the River Nethan, the town is set in a sleepy, rural landscape, although easy access to the M74 makes it perfect for commuters to Hamilton, Glasgow and East Kilbride keen to escape big town and city living.

Kirkmuirhill has a small stretch of shops with a selection of convenience stores.

Blackwood expanded quickly in the late '70s and was one of the first villages to experience large estate building by private companies. There is also affordable housing available within Kirkmuirhill. The village lies close to Craignethan Castle, a listed monument managed by Historic Scotland.

With many young families living in the area, there's a hectic social life concentrated around the Leisuredome and the area's two primary schools. Secondary school pupils travel to Lesmahagow High which will be completely refurbished in South Lanarkshire Council's multi-million pound schools modernisation programme. The Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill Gala Day is held in June.

Kirkmuirhill and Blackwood are served by the Hamilton Advertiser, the Lanark and Carluke Advertiser, the Lanark Gazette and the Lanarkshire Extra.

History

Like many villages in the area, there is evidence of early settlements going back more than 2000 years.

Kirkmuirhill's location made it a perfect coach stop for travellers on the main road from Scotland to England and its residents would have been mainly weavers, blacksmiths and saddlers.

Craignethan Castle was built on a nearby bluff in 1532 and was the last great defensive castle to be built in the country. It was constructed by Sir James Hamilton who was later executed for treason. It passed to the Crown before falling into the hands of James Hamilton who was Regent of Scotland, 2nd Earl of Arran and half-brother of the builder. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed the night in Craignethan Castle before the tragic Battle of Langside. Both the Hamiltons and the castle had many years of unrest before James VI indicted them for the murders of two of his regents. Craignethan Castle was given up without a fight and the main defences were demolished. The tower house was replaced as the main residence by a more modern house in 1665 by the new owner Andrew Hay. Interest in the castle was rekindled in the 1800s when it became associated with Tillietudlum Castle in Walter Scott's novel Old Mortality, especially when the new railway station was named Tillietudlum Station. Repairs began on the castle in the late 1800s and today it is looked after by Historic Scotland.

With the Industrial Revolution came the discovery of coal seams and the main employers in the area became the coal companies. Miners cottages were built and the villages' populations swelled, until the coal ran out and people moved on in the search for work.


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