Rediscovered for #History: The Deer Slunk near Shotts, Fauldhouse, Forth and Wilsontown #Scotland

The Deer Slunk Black Law Windfarm Gregor Steele

Congratulations to Gregor Steele for finding and photographing The Deer Slunk, a place which was lost to History and not on any maps.

On Christmas Day, 2018, I posted a challenge to find ‘a ditch in the midst of a Scottish moor’ near Shotts. (Yes, I really did that.)

With such an obscure location to be hunted down, I doubted anyone would actually go and find The Deer Slunk, but then a few months later I encountered Gregor on Twitter after he shared an evocative picture of the Darmead Monument at night.

Darmead Night Gregor Steele

I shared where I thought The Deer Slunk was based on the historical accounts and online maps, and Gregor did the searching.

Deer Slunk

The Deer Slunk was where the thirty mainly female Sweet Singers lay ‘in Midst of a great flow Moss betwixt Clydsdale and Lothian’ on the morning of 24 April, 1681. They were a very radical and militant sect who were on the edge of splitting with the Covenanters. That day in 1681 there was an illegal field preaching by the militant Covenanter Donald Cargill a mile distant at Darmead. This was first time Cargill had preached in months, after he fled Scotland when we was nearly captured at Muttonhole. Cargill preached in the midst of the moss standing on a chair on Ahab and the nameless judgements. What he said did not satisfy the Sweet Singers in the Deer Slunk at all and later that night they went armed to Darngavel to demand that Cargill only preached to them. Within a month, the Sweet Singers were captured at Wolf Craig in the Pentland Hills. Two months later Cargill was executed in Edinburgh.

And Then …
Almost to the day, 338 years after the Sweet Singers had lay in The Deer Slunk, Gregor was back in touch. He had rediscovered it and kindly sent some photographs.


This clearly was a great place to hide in the middle of a flow moss. Ideal for deer and hunted militants alike. Gregor’s photographs of it really capture how well hidden it is. They are reproduced by his very kind permission.

The Deer Slunk Gregor Steele Black Law WindfarmThe Deer Slunk nr Shotts Gregor SteeleThe Deer Slunk Gregor Steele 4The Deer Slunk Gregor SteeleThe Deer Slunk Gregor Steele 3The Deer Slunk Gregor Steele 2

I really want to thank Gregor for bringing The Deer Slunk back into memory, for finding a place not named on any map and getting me into the wonderful Scots word slunk! Great work. I am still amazed he did this.

If you want to visit The Deer Slunk yourself, it lies on the Craig Burn near some wind turbines in the Black Law Windfarm and not too far off the Climpy to Headlesscross B-road.

Modern OS Map

Google Map


~ by drmarkjardine on March 18, 2020.

25 Responses to “Rediscovered for #History: The Deer Slunk near Shotts, Fauldhouse, Forth and Wilsontown #Scotland”

  1. May I just say that it is such a pleasure to come by and read a blog that does not mention the ‘c’ word right now?

  2. […] Auchensoul Hill, the Peden Stone at Linthills, Peden’s Point near Dalry, The Deil’s Well and The Deer Slunk. So can […]

  3. […] only cost involved being the material required and the inscription on the plaque. It stands near The Deer Slunk, [which it does not!) where Richard Cameron’s funeral sermon was preached by Donald Cargill on 21 […]

  4. The deer slunk is situated on the left as you drive past heedless cross farm headed for forth. . You walk through the first firebreak in the woods you come to, walk in till you meet the burn and go right , you come to a large cave like overhang . There you will see the covenanters preaching place with a large rock with a cross carved in. A magical place I used to go to alot. There even a chance of a wild trout if you fish the burn. That and plenty sightings of deer

  5. I’ll go looking for Brian’s carved cross when restrictions are lifted.

  6. […] Patrick Walker’s Deer Slunk Patrick Walker did mention The Deer Slunk in his account of where the Sweet Singers lay one morning in 1681. He was quite precise about where it lay, as he states it was ‘about a mile’ from the Darmead field preaching site. Walker had grown up nearby, so presumably he was familiar with the landscape. There is only one landscape feature on the moor that fits Walker’s description of where the Deer Slunk lay. This is it, as found and photographed (again) by Gregor Steele. […]

  7. Hello,

    I have just discovered your wonderful blog and there is so much of interest to read. I have recently discovered that I may have a Covenanter ancestor named Robert Little of Torthorwald.From church records, he had a daughter there named Mary around 1705. In the Register of the Scottish Privy Council of 1684, 2 Robert Littles are mentioned in Torthorwald.I am currently working on the assumption that one of these is mine, the same person is mentioned twice, or possibly, they are father and son.
    I wonder, do you know what would have happened to the Torthorwald people listed? Punishment? Or something else.Obviously my Robert must have survived if it is indeed the same one. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

    • Hi John,

      This is what I have at the moment on Torthorwald parish.

      That may be useful for context for you. What matters is what the PC registers say about Robert Little. Can you let me know who they say? At present I am unable to reach the registers due to the lockdown. I am in the midst of identifying “The Hidden”, i.e., Covenanters and those that hid them in late 1684. I will have a look at the copy I have for Torthorwald looking out for Little. What I can say is that he does not appear on the published fugitive roll of 5 May, 1684. That was a list of those who had had either been at the battle and evaded taking the oath of peace after the battle of Bothwell Brig in 1679, or had already been listed for ‘reset’, i.e., hiding fugitives. In late 1684 more names came to light for reset or converse with fugitives.

      I hope that helps,


      • Hi
        Thanks for the information.From the Register of the Scottish Privy Council version 3 Volume 9, pages 653 & 654, I found the list for Torthorwald, with various Little and Richardsons listed among others.It didn’t appear to have any context until I went back to page 650 , where I found the line ‘ The list of suche who refuise to be orderlie are as follows:’
        It goes on to list various places/parishes.I presume this statement also covers Torthorwald?
        I also found the Little families listed in the Scottish Covenanter Geneological Index (1630-1712). This work appears to us the above register and other works as a source of Covenanters of the period.
        I presume if the people of Torthorwald were not orderlie they must have been punished.It would be very interesting to find out how.
        I believe one of the Robert Littles listed may be my 7x great grandfather.It is probable one of the Richardsons is also related.The easiest of my line so far was born around 1695.It’s a pity the Kirk records don’t exist to allow me to go back further.
        I believe Little is also a Border Reiver name, as is Jardine?
        Anyway, thank you again for your help.I’ll continue to read your blog with much interest!


      • Hi John,
        ‘The list of suche who refuise to be orderlie are as follows:’ means that they were disorderly in relation to going to the parish church under Episcopal worship, i.e., while bishops were involved. There is a small chance those on the list were Catholics, but far, far, more likely is that they were Presbyterians who refused to hear the minister. In the context of 1684, almost peak repression, that is a radical thing to do, as it brought down govt attention to them. The PC record is not complete, in any sense, but it indicates resistance. Best, M

      • Hi Mark,

        I’ve tried to reply once but my reply seems to have disapeared?. Anyway, In the PC register for 1684, under the heading of Torthorwald, it just lists a number of names, including several Littles (pages 653 & 654). I looked further forward to page 650 and found the heading ‘ The list of suche who refuise to be orderlie are as foloues’.
        I presume this includes the people of Torthorwald listed?
        It would be interesting to find out if any punishment was given for this refusal to be orderly. Is there any way of finding out?
        I believe one of the 2 Robert Littles listed is probably my 7x great grandfather.It would be wonderful to prove it is and to learn more about the covenanters, a part of history i was only ever vaguely aware of.
        Anyway, thanks again for your help and keep up the good work! It is clear you must have put a lot of time into this.
        I believe Little was a border reiver name as was Jardine?


      • Hi John, I have to approve every comment to avoid randoms with other agendas usually around selling things. You are not one of them! M

    • ps. Thank you for the very kind words about the blog. It began as a day off project when I could finally look at my thesis again. You realise that you have plenty of questions that remain and just how complex it was to even begin to get to grips with in the course of a thesis. Now, the blog is way longer and better. I do it as an open history project. I hope anyone reading through it will begin to understand what happened in the Killing Times. I make mistakes and I correct them in older posts. I think on it as “live” research, Best, M

  8. Hi Mark, So it looks highly probable that the people concerned were covenanters who were putting their lives at great risk for their beliefs. It seems hard to imagine in todays world.I think the work you are doing regarding the covenanters is wonderful. I will have to keep digging and see if I can find more on these people. However, not being in the UK, limits all my research into family histories to mostly online sources.
    Thanks again! John

    • Hi Mark,

      Sorry to bother you again.I need to pick your brains again.On the pages regarding the people of Torthorwald, there are two mentions of ‘depones negative’ or ‘ depones all negative’. Also at the end it states (No note against this paragraph).
      The last line speaks for itself but what does depones negative mean in this context? I don’t know how I missed these and would value your opinion.
      P.S. I started watching a BBC programme on the Covenanters this morning and was surprised to see you on it!

  9. Greetings from Perth Amboy, Caledonia Park, Eagleswood and the Florida.

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