Last updated

Lanark High Street, August 2006
Coat of Arms of Lanark.png
Coat of Arms of the Royal Burgh of Lanark
South Lanarkshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within South Lanarkshire
Population8,253  [1]
OS grid reference NS8843
  Edinburgh 29 12 miles (47.5 km)
  London 325 miles (523 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LANARK
Postcode district ML11
Dialling code 01555
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
55°40′30″N3°46′37″W / 55.674903°N 3.777019°W / 55.674903; -3.777019 Coordinates: 55°40′30″N3°46′37″W / 55.674903°N 3.777019°W / 55.674903; -3.777019

Lanark ( /ˈlænərk/ ; Scottish Gaelic : Lannraig, [2] Scots : Lanrik) [3] is a small town in the central belt of Scotland. The name is believed to come from the Cumbric Lanerc meaning "clear space, glade". [4]

Scots language Germanic language

Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster in Ireland. It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language which was historically restricted to most of the Highlands, the Hebrides and Galloway after the 16th century. The Scots language developed during the Middle English period as a distinct entity.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Cumbric was a variety of the Common Brittonic language spoken during the Early Middle Ages in the Hen Ogledd or "Old North" in what is now Northern England and southern Lowland Scotland. It was closely related to Old Welsh and the other Brittonic languages. Place name evidence suggests Cumbric may also have been spoken as far south as Pendle and the Yorkshire Dales. The prevailing view is that it became extinct in the 12th century, after the incorporation of the semi-independent Kingdom of Strathclyde into the Kingdom of Scotland.


Lanark is traditionally the county town of Lanarkshire, though there are several larger towns in the county. Lanark railway station and coach station have frequent services to Glasgow. There is little industry in Lanark and some residents commute to work in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Its shops serve the local agricultural community and surrounding villages. There is a large modern livestock auction market on the outskirts of the town.

A county town in Great Britain or Ireland is usually, but not always, the location of administrative or judicial functions within the county. The concept of a county town is ill-defined and unofficial. Following the establishment of county councils in 1889, the administrative headquarters of the new authorities were usually located in the county town of each county. However, this was not always the case and the idea of a "county town" pre-dates the establishment of these councils. For example, Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire but the county council is located at Preston.

Lanarkshire Historic county in Scotland

Lanarkshire, also called the County of Lanark is a historic county in the central Lowlands of Scotland.

Lanark railway station

Lanark railway station is in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is managed by Abellio ScotRail and is the southern terminus of the Argyle Line.


Lanark has served as an important market town since medieval times, and King David I made it a Royal Burgh in 1140, giving it certain mercantile privileges relating to government and taxation. King David I realised that greater prosperity could result from encouraging trade. He decided to create a chain of new towns across Scotland. These would be centres of Norman civilisation in a largely Celtic country, and would be established in such a way as to encourage the development of trade within their area. These new towns were to be known as Burghs. Bastides were established in France for much the same reason.

David I of Scotland King of Scots, Prince of the Cumbrians

David I or Dauíd mac Maíl Choluim was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians from 1113 to 1124 and later King of the Scots from 1124 to 1153. The youngest son of Malcolm III and Margaret of Wessex, David spent most of his childhood in Scotland, but was exiled to England temporarily in 1093. Perhaps after 1100, he became a dependent at the court of King Henry I. There he was influenced by the Anglo-French culture of the court.

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

When a site had been selected for a new town the King’s surveyors would lay out an area for the town’s market. Each merchant who came to the town was granted a plot of land (usually rent free for the first few years) bordering on the marketplace. These plots were known as feus or rigs. Each feu in a burgh was the same size, though the size varied between burghs. In Forres in the north of Scotland each feu was 24 feet 10 inches (7.57 m) wide and 429 feet (131 m) deep. The layout of the feus in Lanark can still be easily seen between the north side of Lanark High Street (the former market place) and North Vennel, a lane which runs behind the feus. A motte and bailey castle was also constructed at the bottom of Castlegate.

Feu was previously the most common form of land tenure in Scotland, as conveyancing in Scots law was dominated by feudalism until the Scottish Parliament passed the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. The word is the Scots variant of fee. The English had in 1660 abolished these tenures, with An Act taking away the Court of Wards..., since 1948 known as the Tenures Abolition Act 1660.

Forres town in Scotland, UK

Forres is a town and former royal burgh situated in the north of Scotland on the Moray coast, approximately 25 miles (40 km) east of Inverness and 12 miles (19 km) west of Elgin. Forres has been a winner of the Scotland in Bloom award on several occasions. There are many geographical and historical attractions nearby such as the River Findhorn, and there are many historical artifacts and monuments within the town itself.

Lanark had four town gates, West Port, East port, Wellgate and Castlegate. West Port gate was demolished in the 1770s. [5]

The first aviation meeting to be held in Scotland was held at Lanark Racecourse between 6 and 13 August 1910. This location was chosen because the land was relatively flat, the racecourse already had facilities for a paying public, there were stables to act as hangars for the aeroplanes and the racecourse was accessible by both road and by rail, especially as The Caledonian Railway Company were prepared to construct a new station near the main entrance. The aeroplanes were transported to the meeting by rail, as aviation technology at the time was not advanced enough to safely fly there. The Lanark meeting took place shortly after a similar event in Bournemouth at which Charles Rolls lost his life. Influenced by this, it was decided that no aircraft would fly closer than 300 yards (270 m) away from the spectators. For the first time, aeroplanes were accurately timed over a straight measured distance, allowing the first world records to be set, covering flights over 1 mile (1.6 km). The meeting was described by The Aero magazine as 'the most successful yet held in Britain'. [6]

Lanark Racecourse Scottish horse racing venue

Lanark Racecourse was a Scottish horse racing venue, situated in the small town of Lanark in Scotland's Central Belt, 25 miles (40 km) from Glasgow. It was reputedly founded by King William the Lion of Scotland (1165-1214).

Caledonian Railway British pre-grouping railway company

The Caledonian Railway (CR) was a major Scottish railway company. It was formed in the early 19th century with the objective of forming a link between English railways and Glasgow. It progressively extended its network and reached Edinburgh and Aberdeen, with a dense network of branch lines in the area surrounding Glasgow. It was absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923. Many of its principal routes are still used, and the original main line between Carlisle and Glasgow is in use as part of the West Coast Main Line railway.

Bournemouth Town in England

Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town on the south coast of England, east of the 96-mile-long (155 km) Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. At the 2011 census, the town had a population of 183,491, making it the largest in Dorset. With Poole to the west and Christchurch in the east, Bournemouth is part of the South East Dorset conurbation, which has a population of 465,000.

A permanent military presence was established in the town with the completion of Winston Barracks in the 1930s. [7]


Colonel Duncan Carter-Campbell and HM Queen Elizabeth II inspecting the guard of honour of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) during the Queen's visit to Lanark in June 1953 Duncancarter-campbell&queenelizabeth.jpg
Colonel Duncan Carter-Campbell and HM Queen Elizabeth II inspecting the guard of honour of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) during the Queen's visit to Lanark in June 1953

The electorate in Lanark form part of various different constituencies. In local elections, they are part of the Clydesdale North constituency and elect representatives to South Lanarkshire Council. The most recent elections, held in 2012, saw Ed Archer (independent), Catherine McClymont (Labour) and Vivienne Shaw (SNP) elected to represent the constituency. [8] In elections to the Scottish Parliament, Lanark elects its representatives as part of the Clydesdale constituency, and also elects seven additional list members of parliament as part of the South of Scotland region. The current Clydesdale MSP is Aileen Campbell, SNP, who defeated the Labour incumbent, Karen Gillon, in the 2011 election after Gillon had held the seat since 1999. In Westminster elections, Lanark is part of the Lanark and Hamilton East constituency. Labour MP Jimmy Hood represented the area in Parliament from 1987 till 2015. In elections to the European Parliament, Lanark is part of the Scotland constituency which elects six MEPs.


Gas lamp known as the "Provost's Lamp" Lanark05.jpg
Gas lamp known as the "Provost's Lamp"

Visitors to the town can visit the nearby World Heritage Site of New Lanark, [9] close to the Falls of Clyde, the Corehouse estate and the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Corehouse Nature Reserve. [10]

The Lanark Museum [11] is located in West Port, inside the YMCA building.

A large boating lake, Lanark Loch, adjoins Lanark Golf Club which has a lovely and historic 18 hole course for more experienced golf players and a 9-hole golf course. The former racecourse now offers pony-trekking activities.

The town's Castlebank Park lies near the former site of Lanark Castle, [12] and allows access to the River Clyde and the Clyde Walkway.

An ornate gas lamp, known as the 'Provost's Lamp' stands at the bottom of the high street. The lamp used to be placed outside the home of whoever was Provost of Lanark at the time.

One of the churches in the town bears the name of The Old Church of St Kentigern (perhaps better known as St Mungo), who set up many medieval churches in the Scottish Lowlands, including Glasgow, and died c.612 AD. The town's cemetery stands on the site of The Old Church of St Kentigern, and includes many Covenanter graves.

St. Nicholas' Church Lanark07.jpg
St. Nicholas' Church

St. Nicolas' Parish Church stands at the bottom of the high street. The church bell is believed to date from 1110, and may be one of the oldest church bells in the world. It was moved from The Old Church of St Kentigern when St. Nicolas's Church was built in 1774. It has been recast four times, including 1659 and 1983. There is an 8-foot (2.45 m) statue of William Wallace in the steeple. This was sculpted by Robert Forrest, from an ancient drawing in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries.

Lanark Lanimer Day

Lanark Gala Day, 2006 Lanark04.jpg
Lanark Gala Day, 2006

This historic background forms the basis for the Lanark Lanimer celebrations, which take place each year for one week in June. Local primary schoolchildren elect a Lanark Lanimer Queen and court; and a Lord Cornet is chosen from local businessmen. On the Monday night the Perambulation of the Marches takes place, when townspeople turn out to walk around half the town boundary, following the Lord Cornets past and present as they inspect the border-stones. Traditionally, the townspeople carry "birks" (Scots for "sticks of birch"), which are small branches of birch trees cut from the woods at the Glenburnie estate. This tradition was started in 1948 by Joseph Doolan, whose family owned the land. The other half of the boundary is inspected on the Wednesday night, again led by the Lord Cornet accompanied by many local riders who participate in the Riding of the Marches, locally referred to as the Rideout. On the Thursday morning, schools and other organisations parade before the Lanimer Queen in themed dress, accompanied by pipe bands. The best Lanimer Lorries win prizes, and after the parade the crowning of the Queen takes place on a temporary stand erected in front of St Nicholas' Church, under the statue of William Wallace. The Queen holds a reception party in the town's Memorial Hall on the Friday night, where children perform songs and dances.


Pipe Bands: Lanark & District Pipe Band previously had two units which competed in competitions run by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association - one competing in Grade 4B and one in Grade 3A, having been upgraded from 4B to 4A to 3B to 3A in consecutive years from 2004. In the 1980s, the band competed as high as Grade 2. At the end of the 2015 season, the band won the RSPBA Champion of Champions in Grade 4B and was promoted to Grade 4A. This was followed by promotion from Grade 4A at the end of the 2016 season. As of 2017, the band competes in Grade 3B.

The 'Music in Lanark' programme began in 2000 with the aim of bringing a variety of the highest quality live music to the town. In the first five years there were three classical concerts, one jazz concert and one traditional (Scottish) music concert. The programme continues to grow.


As with the rest of the British Isles and Scotland, Lanark experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. In terms of the local climate profile, Lanark's inland, rural setting means frost is common, although there is considerable variation within the area. At Carnwath, sitting 6 miles to the east, in a sheltered, upland sandy-soiled location, frost has been recorded in all months; Typically almost 100 nights [13] will report a frost per year, and even in a statistically average year the temperature should fall to as low as −14.3 °C (6.3 °F) on the coldest night. [14] . The town itself sits on a hilltop above the River Clyde, so katabatic drainage means that the incidence of frost will be less.

Climate data for Carnwath 208 m asl, 1971–2000, extremes 1960 (Weather station 6 miles (10 km) to the East of Lanark)
Record high °C (°F)12.2
Average high °C (°F)4.8
Average low °C (°F)−1.5
Record low °C (°F)−24.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)83.77
Source: Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute/KNMI [15]

Notable Lanarkians

William Wallace is one of the most notable people in Lanark's history. A key leader in the Scottish Wars of Independence, he is known to have first "drawn his sword to free his native land" in Lanark in 1297, killing the English sheriff Haselrig. [16] [17] First year pupils at Lanark Grammar School study Wallace and the Wars of Independence in detail. [18] An 8-foot statue of Wallace sits on St Nicholas Church at the town cross dating back to 1817 which was sculpted by Carluke man Robert Forrest. [19]

Other important figures in Lanark history include:


Primary schools

There are three main primary schools in Lanark:

1 Indicates non-denominational school
2 Roman Catholic school

Secondary schools

There is now one secondary school in Lanark:


The religious buildings of Lanark are exclusively Christian, but cover a wide array of Christian denominations. At present, the following religious buildings still exist and remain in use:

The following buildings remain in Lanark, but are no longer used for religious purposes:

Finally, these buildings no longer exist:

See also

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  2. "Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba (AÀA) – Gaelic Place-names of Scotland". Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  3. " - Names in Scots - Places in Scotland". Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  4. Scottish place names, W. F. H. Nicolaisen, p.164, 172, London, 1976
  5. Rhona Wilson. Old Lanark, Stenlake Publishing, 1998. ISBN   1840330198
  6. Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume. Scotland's Aviation History, Stenlake Publishing, 2014. ISBN   9781840336535
  7. Historic Environment Scotland. "Hyndford Road at A70, Winston Barracks, Sergeants' Mess  (Category B) (LB46982)" . Retrieved 21 March 2019.
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  11. "Lanark Museum and the Royal Burgh of Lanark Museum Trust". Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  12. Clarke, John; Glasgow Archaeological Society (1952). Miller, Steuart Napier, ed. The Roman occupation of south-western Scotland: being reports of excavations and surveys carried out under the auspices of the Glasgow Archaeological Society. Glasgow University Publications. 83. R. MacLehose.
  13. "Average frost incidence". KNMI.
  14. "Average coldest night". KNMI.
  15. "Carnwath Climate". KNMI . Retrieved 4 Nov 2011.
  16. "William Wallace". Wars of Independence. BBC History. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  17. Wallace, Andy. "Wallace in Lanark". The William Wallace Heritage Trust Lanark. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  18. "Lanark Grammar School website". South Lanarkshire Council. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  19. "Lanark from kings to convenanters[sic]". Local History and Heritage. South Lanarkshire Council. Retrieved 1 October 2011.