"Lanark, parl. and royal burgh, par., and co. town of Lanarkshire, near river Clyde, 31 miles SE. of Glasgow, and 366 NW. of London by rail - par. 10, 385 ac., pop. 7580; royal burgh, pop. 5874; parl. burgh and town, pop. 4910; P.O., T.O., 4 Banks. Market-days, Tuesday and Saturday. Lanark is an ancient place, said to have been erected to a royal burgh by Alexander I. The name is associated with the early struggles of Sir William Wallace. The principal industries are weaving, shoemaking, and brewing. The Falls of Clyde, in the neighbourhood, attract numerous visitors. Lanark is one of the Falkirk District of Parliamentary Burghs, which returns 1 member."

From John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887



Episcopal Church of Scotland
Christ Church, Lanark, Scottish Episcopal
Presbyterian / Unitarian
Lanark, Church of Scotland

Church History

The ancient parish church, St. Kentigern's, 3 furlongs SE of the town, was granted by David I, as early as 1150-53. It continued to be used for some time after the Reformation, but seems to have fallen into a ruinous condition by 657, and in 1777 was finally superseded by the present church. Within the burgh stood the chapel of St. Nicholas, which existed at the beginning of the 13th century. Its very site is forgotten, but it is known to have served as a chapel of ease from 1590 till 1777. In the present yard of the Clydesdale Hotel stood an Observantine or Franciscan friary, which is said to have been founded by Robert Bruce in 1314.

The present parish church, in the middle of the town, without is a large ungainly structure of 1777, but within was greatly improved in 1870. It contains 1800 sittings. St. Leonards Church was built as a chapel of ease in 1867 and in 1873 was raised to quoad sacra status. Other places of worship are a Free church, Hope Street and Bloomgate U.P. churches, an Evangelical Unions chapel, Episcopalian Christ Church (1858), and St. Mary's Roman Catholic church.

The Presbytery of Lanark comprises the quoad civilia parishes of Carluke, Carmichael, Carnwath, Carstairs, Crawford, Crawfordjohn, Douglas, Lanark, Lesmahagow, Pettinain, and Wiston, the quoad sacra parishes of Forth, Leadhills and Lanark-St. Leonards, and the chapelries of Haywood, Carstairs Junction, and Kirkfieldbank. The Free Church has a presbytery of Lanark, with churches in Abington, Carluke, Carnwath, Crossford, Douglas, Douglas Water, Forth, Lanark, Law and Lesmahagoe. The United Presbyterian Church has a presbytery of Lanark, with 2 churches at Lanark, 2 at Biggar, and 8 at Bonkle, Braehead, Carluke, Carnwath, Crossford, Douglas, Lesmahagow, and Roberton.

Population of the Presbytery:- 1871 - 38,103; 1881 - 40,806.

Extract from Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1884


Description & Travel

"a town and a parish in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. The capital of the county, and a royal, parliamentary, and police burgh, the town is built on a south-westward slope, 500 to 750 feet above sea level, within a half mile of the Clyde's right bank. Its environs are singularly pleasant, comprising the three celebrated Falls of Clyde (Bonnington, Corra and Stonebyres Linns) and the deep, narrow chasm of Mouse Water beneath the stupendous Cartland Crags, with a wealth of minor embelleshment in the shape of undulating surface, woods, and mansions. The town, which on 20 Aug. 1804 received a visit from Coleridge, Wordsworth, and his sister Dorothy, then "showed a sort of French face, and would have done so more, had it not been for the true British tinge of coal-smoke; the doors and windows dirty, the shops dull, the women too seemed to be very dirty in their dress. The place itself is not ugly; the houses are of grey stone, the streets are not very narrow, and the market place decent."

Extract from Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1884

You can see pictures of Lanark which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Lanark has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



SPRING comes to Lanark officially on March 1 each year, when youngsters take part in the ancient custom of "Whuppity Scoorie".

They gather before 6 pm, assembling at St Nicholas church, then as the wee bell rings the hour, they walk (run?) round the church three times anti-clockwise (widdershins) swinging balls, made of paper and tied with a piece of string, around their heads. At the end the children scramble for coins thrown by members of the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council, which now organises the event.

Its origins are vague. A connection may well be that old style wooden spinning tops (a child's toy) were set in motion with a length of string; wind the string around the top - hold one end of the string - 'throw' the top. Whipping (whuppin' ?) the top into motion

Some say it is a remembrance of days when miscreants were whipped round the cross then "scoored" in the Clyde, and it is also supposed to reflect curfew changes as spring replaced the dark winter nights.

The six o' clock start would also appear to be connected, in some way, to a previous "bell ceremony" where the bell was rung at this time to let the apprentices know it was time to end work for the day.

Going on the date of 1st March there may be a pagan connection, possibly connected to the end of Winter / start of Spring and intended to either drive away the 'dark devils' of winter or greet the new planting season . The fact that those taking part walk 'widdershins' would reinforce the pagan theory as Scottish witches were said to stir their cooking pots in this direction.

Whatever its origins, generations of children have taken part and made sure that this part of Lanark's past endured.

Robert Owen is considered by many to be the father of the Co-operative Movement.

Robert Owen founded his Model Community in New Lanark in 1785.

The New Lanark World Heritage Site is a beautiful restoration of this 18th century cotton mill village, close to the Falls of Clyde, about an hour's journey from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Robert Owen Museum (in his birthplace of Newtown, Montgomeryshire) holds much historical information about this pioneering social reformer and industrialist and his Lasting Legacy to the world.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NS880442 (Lat/Lon: 55.678279, -3.782503), Lanark which are provided by:


Military History

New Lanark in World War One A 2014 exhibition at the World Heritage site of New Lanark explored how the Great War affected the women of the textile village.