Scotland’s “Most Armoured” Monument Found near Shotts #History #Scotland

Gregor Steele Starryshaw 2020

This monument looks like an electricity substation, but there are good reasons for its formidable defences. It has been dynamited, yes, DYNAMITED, and destroyed twice.

You can forget the statue to the Duke of Sutherland, what is possibly Scotland’s most disputed monument lies near Shotts in Lanarkshire. It is the Starryshaw monument to the Covenanter field preaching of Donald Cargill on the death of Richard Cameron in July 1680.

Quite why is has been attacked is a bit of a mystery, as was where exactly it is located – it does not appear consistently on online maps or the OS map. However, I am very grateful to Gregor Steele for finding and photographing it. Without his recent efforts, it was not clear to anyone who did not live locally if the monument still survived and where it was located.

It lies here, about 1 km off the Harthill to Fauldhouse road.

Map of Starryshaw Monument

Where to begin?

Back to 1680

Let’s go back to 1680, as we know roughly what was said back then by Donald Cargill. According to Patrick Walker: ‘Mr. Cargill preached upon the 25th [July] in the parish of Shot[t]s, upon that Text, Know you not that there is a great Man and Prince fallen in our Israel? [2 Samuel 3.38.]’. (Walker, BP, II, 9-10.)

Cargill’s sermon was on the death of Richard Cameron a few days before at the Battle of Airds Moss. Less than a month earlier, Cameron had forfeited the king, Charles II, in the Sanquhar Declaration and declared war on the powers that repressed the Covenanters. It was a very radical moment that in many ways would echo through time, as Cameron was the first in Scotland to explicitly deny royal authority in the name of the People in a public declaration. Now he was dead. He had been hunted down by the King’s army and killed in battle.

Starryshaw Shotts

The 1925 ‘Watchtower’ Monument at Starryshaw

Jump forward in time. On 6 September 1925, a monument to Cargill’s preaching was unveiled near Starryshaw. Thousands turned up to see it, The Shotts Foundry Brass Band played and speeches were delivered. Mrs Kerr, proprietorix of Starryshaw, had gifted the site.

The 1925 monument was built of brick and faced with marble chips set in cement. Underneath the cross of St Andrew was a granite plaque apparently bearing the inscription–“Dedicated to the men of the Covenant. Near this spot, where the Covenanter worshipped, Richard Cameron‘s funeral sermon was preached by Donald Cargill on 21, July, 1681 [actually 1680], from the text, ‘Know ye not that there is prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel’– 2nd Samuel, III, 38. Starryshaw, 1925.”’

However, the first Starryshaw monument did not last long. In 1946 it was dynamited, blown up.


After twenty years, it was no more. But then, in 1988 a new monument was erected at the site.

Starryshaw Shotts 1988

Here it is, or rather was. It, too, was destroyed, apparently by “vandalism”, in 2000. Who goes to the middle of a moor near Shotts to do that? We do not know.

However, in July 2007, it was back. This time surrounded by an armoured steel fence.

Starryshaw Shotts 2007

Thanks to Gregor Steele, we now know that it still survives. Surely Scotland’s “most armoured” monument is well worth a visit.

Gregor Steele Starryshaw 2 2020


~ by drmarkjardine on April 1, 2020.

2 Responses to “Scotland’s “Most Armoured” Monument Found near Shotts #History #Scotland”

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