Ancient Carman Hill monument disrupted by vandals
Concerned calls are being made to protect an ancient fort overlooking Renton before its history is lost to vandals.
The remains of a fort lies on Carman Hill - with some historians believing it was once a royal citadel.
Many residents will have seen the large boulders while enjoying a walk on the hill, which enjoys spectacular views over the valley of the River Leven and beyond, but many won’t know the story behind the ancient monument.
And the lack of awareness is leading the site, which is believed to date back to the early medieval period, to be vandalised by visitors etching names into the rocks and creating a cairn at the summit.
Jamestown man Craig Jump was left shocked by the extent of the damage after recently taking state-of-the art images of the fort using a drone for the Vale of Leven History website.
The aerial photographer reckons the lack of signage alerting visitors to its ancient past is contributing to the vandalism carried out by walkers who don’t know otherwise.
He said: “On our visit people had started moving rocks to create a cairn at the summit and some of the rocks have names etched into them alongside Iron Age/Dark Age images which is a shame.
“We also met some dog walkers up there who were unhappy about it. People will easily walk past it and not know what it is because there’s no signage.
“It’s really sad because it’s a very important, local site and it should be protected.”
The boulders are known to have suffered some damage in 1863 during a royal party, as recorded in the 1927 book “The Old Vale and Its Memories” by J.G. Temple and James Ferguson.
The residents of the Vale rejoiced in a fireworks display following the marriage of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward) to Queen Alexandra.
Youths carried coals, wood and tar to Carman Hill and celebrated with a great bonfire, which cracked the big rocks badly, with the damage to be seen to this day.
However, nobody knew at the time that the site had once been a hill-fort as its history was only discovered by aerial photography in 1954.
It has never been excavated so little is known about its true past.
According to local historian Billy Scobie, archaeologists Leslie and Elizabeth Alcock did some research into the site and concluded that it was once most probably a royal citadel and could have preceded Dumbarton Rock as the seat of the kings of Strathclyde Britons.
If they are right, this little hill was once the capital of Strathclyde.
The citadel appears to have been in use immediately after the departure of the Romans and could also have been an equally important temple - or both.
There are however no conclusive answers and local historians say an excavation is required to provide more information on what was clearly a very significant focus of power to the Britons of Strathclyde.
Billy said: “I’ve not been up there for a while but just this week I was looking up at Carman from the Vale and I thought `am I imagining things or is that stone sitting taller then before’?
“Clearly my eyes weren’t deceiving me and if this is happening, then it does amount to vandalism of a very important site. I would love to see it excavated. It’s in a very important location and deserves to be given the credit that it’s due.”
A spokesman for Historic Environment Scotland, which cares for and promotes Scotland’s historic environment said the organisation does not manage the site but said it could be explored if they were approached by the owner or a local group.
High flyer Craig Jump’s digital drone map of Carman Hill (main) Credit: Turkey Red Media