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South Lanarkshire

Population 1447. Figures taken from 2001 Census.

Carnwath is a farming village set in rolling countryside, on the edge of open moorland and with views to the Pentland Hills. Its proximity to the A70 - locals call it the Lang Whang - makes it popular with commuters to Edinburgh. The A721 will also connect you to Carluke, Lanark, Peebles and beyond.

Carnwath is a very pretty village with hanging baskets along the main street and considerable effort has gone into improving the local environment in recent years. The Carnwath 2000 group, formed at the turn of the millennium, has been actively promoting a number of partnership projects to secure a bright future for the area. Carnwath holds the oldest foot race in Scotland and probably Europe, the Red Hose, dating from 1508. Carnwath Gala Day is in June.

On the main street you will find convenience stores, a gardening and lawnmower shop and craft shops, including a jewellers, but as the shops don't have modern frontages it feels like you're taking a step back in time.

If you fancy a bite to eat or a drink there's the Wee Bush Inn which was built when the Main Street was the Edinburgh/Ayr turnpike road. Until the recent fire it 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 visitor.

Housing in Carnwath ranges from council properties to terraced weavers cottages, family villas, country cottages and new builds. One of the most unusual houses in the area is the circular Hagrid's Hut on the outskirts of town on the Lang Whang. It was once a water tower belonging to West of Scotland Water and was converted in 2003. 'A' listed buildings include the Old Collegiate Church, Carnwath Cross and Newbigging Mercat Cross.

Carnwath Primary is a feeder school for Biggar High school.

Carnwath is served by the Lanark and Carluke Advertiser and Lanark Gazette.


It is thought that Carnwath's history began around the Motte which is now surrounded by Carnwath Golf Course. It was almost certainly used as a place of worship by the ancient Druids. Carnwath's name is a matter of debate. It may be a mixture of Danish and Celtic meaning "cairn among the trees" or may be Saxon for "ford at the cairn".

A castle was built on the motte in the 12th century and access to the keep was through a passage and up steps to emerge at the top. Sadly nothing remains of the castle today.

Carnwath Parish Curch, at first sight, looks like most other village churches but walk round it and you'll find a small chapel, St Mary's Aisle which is the last remains of the collegiate church founded in 1425 by Thomas, 1st Lord Somerville.

The Somerville family has long been associated with Carnwath and in 1516 the 5th Lord Somerville commissioned the building of the Mercat Cross to celebrate the village achieving burgh status.

In 1508 the first Red Hose Race (this link will open in a new window) was run whereby the local Laird had to provide a pair of red stockings as the prize. The race which reached its 500th anniversary in 2008, the oldest road race in the world (see World Guinness Book of Records 2006), is believed to have a military reason behind it. A fast runner could bring news of any approaching invasion from the South to Edinburgh - the red hose being the insignia by which the runner would be recognized.

The village has always been an important stop for travellers and when the railway arrived in the 1800s it blossomed into quite a bustling little town. The station has since been closed and demolished.

Carnwath missed the worst parts of the Industrial Revolution, although the collieries were never that far away.

The village now seems to have settled into its role as a rural commuting community.

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