Ancient Monuments

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Glenbuck Ironworks, 470m north west of Glenbuck Home Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Ballochmyle, East Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.5423 / 55°32'32"N

Longitude: -3.9813 / 3°58'52"W

OS Eastings: 275074

OS Northings: 629402

OS Grid: NS750294

Mapcode National: GBR 04MC.V2

Mapcode Global: WH4RW.TY9L

Entry Name: Glenbuck Ironworks, 470m NW of Glenbuck Home Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 October 1970

Last Amended: 12 January 2018

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2931

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: kiln, furnace, oven

Location: Muirkirk

County: East Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: Ballochmyle

Traditional County: Ayrshire


The monument is the remains of an iron works dating to the late 18th and early 19th century. The iron works are visible as the remains of a blast furnace, the footings of buildings, bell-pits, spoil heaps and trackways. The monument is located on either side of the Stottencleugh Burn in the hills east of Muirkirk, at about 280m above sea level.

The blast furnace is built into a hillside above the Stottencleugh Burn and survives as a rubble-built sandstone structure with an arched opening at ground level. Much of it is buried in earth and rubble. The footings of buildings and workers' houses are visible to the northwest, southwest and against the east end of the furnace. At least six bell-pits, along with spoil heaps and trackways survive to the south on the opposite side of the burn.

The scheduled area is irregular in plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment is expected to survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map. The scheduling specifically excludes the above ground elements of all post and wire fences, electricity poles and the top 300mm of the modern road.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of the monument has been assessed as follows:

Intrinsic Characteristics

The monument consists of the remains of Glenbuck ironworks. Important elements of the iron working process are represented at the site, from extraction to the processing of the raw material. A complex of bell-pits, spoil heaps and trackways, relating to the extraction of coal and ironstone, survive within the south section of the site. The blast furnace lies to the north and is built into the hill slope to allow the raw materials to be fed into the top of the furnace from the hill above. It is partially buried by earth and rubble. The remains of buildings survive as footings around the furnace. Newspaper advertisements relating to the sale of the ironworks in 1813 indicate there was a foundry on the site, along with other related buildings. Some of the footings are likely to relate to this phase of activity. Most, though, are likely to be the remains of workers' houses of the late 19th and early 20th century coal mining village.

Although the area around has been extensively mined in the 20th century, there is no record of an excavation or other disturbance at the monument. Therefore there is potential for the survival of archaeological deposits, artefacts and ecofacts within, beneath and around the upstanding remains and within the mining remains. Such buried archaeological deposits have the potential to provide information about the methods of extraction, the technology and operation of the ironworks, industrial design and process. They can add to our knowledge of about land use and the environment. The monument has the potential to expand our knowledge of the operation of ironworks and the technological and scientific developments associated with this industry.

Glenbuck ironworks was founded around 1795 by an English company, the Glenbuck Iron Company, following the discovery of extensive deposits of coal, iron and limestone. The company went bankrupt in 1813 after the bank with which they were associated failed, and production ceased at this date. Contemporary advertisements of the sale of the ironworks indicate the presence of one blast furnace and a steam engine, an engine house and an extensive foundry, along with workers' houses and other buildings. By 1845 Glenbuck village was described as having fallen into decay. The exploitation of coal deposits at Glenbuck in the late 19th century, aided by the development of the railway system, led to the recovery of the population of the village. By 1900 the population of the village is recorded as around 1,750. Some of this housing was built around the location of the earlier blast furnace and overlies the remains of the earlier activity.

As the ironworks were in operation for a short period of time they provide a snapshot of the techniques used at this time and the nature of mining and ironworking at an early stage in the development of industrial-scale ironworking. Although the ironworks is known to have been established around 1795, the exact year of foundation is not known. Scientific study of the monument would allow us to develop a better understanding of the overall chronology of the site and development sequence.

Contextual Characteristics

Ironworks began to be established in central Scotland from the late 18th century, exploiting ironstone often in association with, or close to, coal mines. The Carron Ironworks, founded in 1759, marked the beginning of this phase of development. It was the first company to use ironstone from the Carboniferous deposits of Central Scotland and the first to use coal to power furnaces to smelt iron. Before this date Scottish ironworking was undertaken on a small scale using wood or charcoal as a fuel, and was usually based in the highlands where wood was more readily available. This development, therefore marked a distinct change in the production of iron in Scotland and marks the beginning of heavy industry in the Central Lowlands.

Glenbuck was one of eleven new ironworks built in Scotland between 1759 and 1828 and one of a small number of ironworks established in Ayrshire in the 18th century, including Muirkirk (Canmore ID: 44728) around 6km southwest. The monument represents an important phase in the industrial development of Scotland and is significant as one of the earliest examples established in Ayrshire. It is one of a relatively small number which has not been obscured by later mining and development. The short-lived nature of the ironworks is unusual and provides an insight into a particular period in the development of Scottish ironworking and heavy industry.

The mine workings and spoil heaps form distinctive features within the current landscape and would have been equally distinct in the historic landscape.

Associative Characteristics

Glenbuck village is associated with the Glenbuck Cherrypickers, a football team which produced around 50 professional footballers in the early 20th century. It is the birthplace of Bill Shankly who played football for Preston North End before going on to manage Liverpool. Shankly was born in the village in 1913.

Statement of National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Scotland's industrial heritage and the development of Scottish ironworking and heavy industry. The monument preserves all stages of the industrial process, from extraction to the processing of the raw material. The short-lived nature of the ironworks is of particular significance as it provides an insight into an important period in the development of industrial-scale ironworking. The monument makes a significant contribution to the appearance of the historic and current landscape. The loss or damage of the monument would diminish our ability to understand the function, location and use of such monuments in Ayrshire and across Scotland. It would reduce our knowledge of the industry of this period and the development of heavy industry in central Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Historic Environment Scotland reference number CANMORE ID 45526 (accessed on 15/11/2017).

Local Authority HER Reference WoSAS Site ID 9642 (accessed on 15/11/2017).

Butt, J. (1967) The industrial archaeology of Scotland, The industrial archaeology of the British Isles series. David & Charles: Newton Abbot.

Caledonian Mercury (29 November 1813) Bankrupt Estate. Glenbuck Iron Works, Ayrshire.

Close, R. and Riches, A. (2012) The buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire and Arran. Yale University Press: London, pp 59, 351.

Fisk, S. Abandoned Communities …. Ayrshire [accessed on 15/11/2017]

Hamilton, H. The founding of Carron Ironworks [accessed on 15/11/2017]

Hume, J.R. (1976) The industrial archaeology of Scotland. 1 The Lowlands and Borders. London: Batsford, p67.

New Statistical Account (1834-45) Muirkirk, County of Ayrshire. Vol V. p156.

The Scots Magazine (01 November 1811) Review. p847.


Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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