History & Heritage


Brief History of Strathblane

“The general appearance is agreeably picturesque: the land in the valley is exceedingly fertile, and beautified by several neat villas : while the sides of the hills are clothed with the luxuriant foliage of natural woods : beyond these there is a considerable extent of muirland, covered with heath, but affording good pasture for sheep.”  Gazetteer of Scotland 1803

Fire & Ice

The parish of Strathblane is around 20 square miles in size and lies in the south-west corner of Stirlingshire, though for a period it was part of Dunbartonshire. The area contains many small lochs. Renowned today for its tranquil beauty, the landscape tells a different story. Dumgoyne, the most prominent local landmark, is a volcanic plug and the area is strewn with boulders deposited by a retreating glacier at the end of the last Ice Age.

Romans, Picts & More

Though the Antonine Wall ran to the south of the parish, for several periods between the First and Fourth centuries AD, the Blane Valley formed part of the Roman Empire. For centuries afterwards it was a battleground, fought over by Picts, Scots, Saxons and, latterly, Vikings. The pivotal Battle of Mugdock in 750AD, in which the Pictish leader Talorcan was killed, was probably fought in the Blane Valley, though historians now differ as to exactly where.

Land of Lennox

By the time Malcolm was declared king of the Scots in 945AD, the area’s sparse and scattered population must have boasted much mixed blood, along with stories about the past in which it was difficult to disentangle history from mythology! In 1174 it became part of the Earldom of Lennox that King William the Lion created for his brother, David, from whom it was inherited by Ailin (or Aluin), a shadowy figure whose family held it until the 15th century. Typical feudal lords, they bestowed various estates on their family and followers and on the church. Strathblane was a parish by 1216.

Grahams & Edmonstones

The barony of Mugdock passed into the hands of the Grahams of Montrose in the 13th century. Duntreath was granted to William Edmonstone of Culloden by his brother-in-law, King James I, around 1434. (William married James’s sister Mary, who is buried beneath Strathblane Church.) The barony of Duntreath remains in the Edmonstone family to this day. For a period the castle was in ruins but was restored and considerably extended in Victorian times. (The fifth baronet’s sister, Alice Keppel, was King Edward VII’s mistress. Alice’s great granddaughter is Queen Camilla.)


Strathblane remained an isolated predominantly agricultural community and right up to the late 18th century was much troubled by banditry. The MacGregor clan (epitomised by Rob Roy) was in the business of extortion or security, depending on your viewpoint. In 1716 the Duke of Montrose’s factor requested an order to “subdue these villains who have stolen a good deal of sheep from the Muir of Blane above Duntreath”. Stock rustling was not put down finally until the decades after Culloden in 1746.

Agricultural Improvements and Industrialisation

By the beginning of the 19th century Strathblane was sufficiently settled to benefit from the prevailing passion for agricultural improvements. Tree planting, soil improvement and modern stock breeding techniques, as recorded in the First and Second Statistical Accounts of the parish, brought increased prosperity.

At the same time there was a measure of industrialisation. As well as several existing bleachfields, a large calico printworks was built in the Netherton area of the parish. By the 1850s, Blanefield Printworks was employing more than 500 men, women and children. While the owners, the Coubrough family, inhabited a 25-room mansion in the area now occupied by the Netherblane flats, workers lived often six or more to a room in cramped cottages, such as those in Wood Place. Road improvements and the arrival of the Blane Valley Railway in 1867 opened up Strathblane to the world. An elegant new parish church was built in 1803 and improved in the 1870s. The school, first built in the 1780s, was gradually remodelled and extended. The population of the parish, which had been just 734 in 1801 was 1,671 by 1891.

20th Century

But the British cotton industry was being increasingly centralised in Lancashire and in 1898 Blanefield Printworks closed. With little alternative employment, the population nearly halved. By 1901 it was down to 880. Agriculture too was employing far fewer workers, as small farms were amalgamated, arable farming declined and the work became more mechanised.

However, bus and train services and the availability of cheap accommodation in former printworkers’ cottages, combined with the area’s natural beauty, soon began turning Strathblane into a popular destination for day trippers, hikers and holidaymakers. The coming of the motor car opened the attractive possibility of living in the shadow of the Campsie Hills and commuting daily in to the city. During the 20th century the population gradually crept up again. In the 2022 Census it was 2,030, the highest figure ever.

At one time the parish consisted of three villages. The area around Dumbrock Road was known as Edenkiln (or Edenkill), while the part around the old school was called Netherton. Mugdock, which was once much larger than today, made up the third part. Though all three communities lay within the parish, Edenkiln was increasingly referred to as Strathblane, while Netherton took on the name of the local printworks: Blanefield. Mugdock remains separate (and is often erroneously thought to be part of Milngavie) but housing developments on both sides of the main road have progressively filled the gap between Strathblane and Blanefield to the point where even local residents do not know where one ends and the other begins. In fact, the boundary is the South Burn, which runs under the main A81 at the foot of Kirkhouse Road.

 Anne Balfour, Co-chair, Strathblane Heritage, September 2023