Renwick’s ‘lost’ preaching at Woolf Hole Craig

For a while now I’ve been wondering about the location of one of James Renwick’s field preachings at ‘Woolf-hole-craigs’. It is listed in the Life of James Renwick by Alexander Shields, which was written after Renwick’s execution in 1688, but not published until 1724. According to Shields, who was quoting a proclamation against Renwick, in the period prior to 20 September 1684 Renwick had preached at Black-loch, ‘Woolf-hole-craig’ and Greenock. (Shields, Life of Renwick, 55.)

The most likely date for Renwick’s field preaching at ‘Woolf-hole-craig’ is the summer of 1684, although technically it could date to any point between Renwick’s return to Scotland in late 1683 and early September 1684. Given that Renwick’s preaching at Whinn Bog by Black Loch in New Monklands parish, Lanarkshire, was almost certainly held on 8 June 1684, it is a reasonable assumption that the ‘Woolf’s-hole-craig’ preaching dates to around the same time, possibly after Black Loch, as the preachings appear to be listed in chronological order, and before the Greenock conventicle, which was held prior to 26 August 1684 when the privy Council order prisoners seized after it to be brought to Edinburgh. Shields also places his discussion of the proclamation after the story of how Renwick narrowly evaded capture by dragoons at a ‘Hill called Darngavel’, which Renwick’s letters confirm was on 30 July 1684 and actually at Dungavel Hill that lies near Strathaven in Lanarkshire. However, as Shields discusses the Black Loch event after the Dungavel incident, the flow of Shields’ narrative does not help to  narrow the time frame. (Houston, Letters, 163; Shields, Life of Renwick, 54-5; Wodrow, History, IV, 51; Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 65, 74.)

But where is ‘Woolf-hole-craig’? There is a hill called Wolf Hole Crag on modern OS maps, but it lies deep in northern England and far beyond the area where Renwick had any kind of support base or was ever recorded field preaching.

However, a better contender for Renwick’s ‘lost’ conventicle is a site near Bridge of Allan in Stirlingshire known as Wolf’s Hole Quarry which lies near where the Ochil Hills meet the Allan Water. Today, the quarry is a place of considerable geological interest. Digging in the National Library of Scotland’s online collection of old OS maps also reveals that a building next to the quarry is called ‘Wolfcraig’.

However, this mystery has now been solved!

Text © Dr Mark Jardine


~ by drmarkjardine on August 30, 2010.

One Response to “Renwick’s ‘lost’ preaching at Woolf Hole Craig”

  1. […] ‘lost’ preaching at Woolf-Hole-Craig As readers of this blog will know, I have previously discussed some possible locations for Renwick’s field preaching at ‘Woolf-hole-craig’, but came to no […]

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