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Railway Arch Dunsyre - - 332303.jpg
Railway Arch at Dunsyre
Grid reference: NT068480
Location: 55°43’0"N, 3°28’60"W
Post town: Lanark
Postcode: ML11
Dialling code: 01899
Local Government
Council: South Lanarkshire

Dunsyre is a village and parish in Lanarkshire adjacent to the border with Peeblesshire. The parish also has a short border with Midlothian at its north-eastern extremity. The village itself is located six miles from Carnwath and stands by the burn known as the South Medwin.

Dunsyre is associated with an ancient Barony of Dunsyre.

Today the main fame of the village is Little Sparta, a fascinating artwork garden created by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and his wife, Sue Finlay. Altogether it includes over 275 artworks by the artist, created in collaboration with numerous craftsmen.


Dunsyre Castle once stood in the parish, just 300 yards from the parish kirk. It is known to have had a basement vault and a two-storied superstructure, and until the 1740s Dunsyre Castle was the seat of a baronial court (and held the court's instruments of torture). The castle has since vanished, though Bartholomew's Gazetteer reported its ruins standing in the village as late as 1887.

From the Middle Ages, the parish was divided between two estates. In 1492 the first Earl of Bothwell sold the larger of the two to the Earl of Angus, in exchange for the lands and castle of Hermitage in Liddesdale. In the seventeenth century the estate was sold to Sir George Lockhart, president of the Court of Session (1685–89), from whom it descended to the family of Lockhart of Lee and Carnwath.

In "the Killing Times" of the early seventeenth century the Covenanters frequently sought shelter in Dunsyre. William Veitch, one of the most distinguished of their preachers, was tenant of Westhills up to the battle of Rullion Green (1666) and whilst Donald Cargill preached, in 1669, on Dunsyre Common.[1]

From 1867 until 1945 Dunsyre was served by a railway branch from Carstairs to Dolphinton, originally built by the Caledonian Railway, and the disused embankment of this runs along the south side of the village close to the church.[2]

Parish church

The parish church is an old building, with iron jougs and a Gothic tower, added in 1820.

A survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland reported that Dunsyre church had stood on a tumulus or mound, but that no trace was found of a tumulus underlying the church. It reported that the minister at the time had excavated part of the floor of the church and claimed to have found flint artefacts but these were not available for inspection.

Today the church is a Category B listed building.[3]

Around the village

The surface is generally elevated, and rises further still into the surrounding hills. Dunsyre Hill overlooks the area from the north and Blackmount from the south. Dunsyre Hill forms the termination of the Pentland Hills, a range extending for nearly twenty miles from the immediate vicinity of Edinburgh. This hill has an elevation of 500 feet above the general surface of the lands, and of 1,315 feet above sea level; a small range of gradually diminishing hills branches off towards the west from it, stretching to the parish of Carnwath.

Between the Dunsyre and Walston ranges is a level valley about three miles in length and a mile broad. The village's river, the South Medwin runs along the valley, as yet a small strea, in its way west to join the River Clyde.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Dunsyre)


  1. Gazetteer for Scotland
  2. Railway Passenger Stations of England, Scotland and Wales: A Chronology; M.E. Quick; Railway & Canal Historical Society, Richmond, Surrey; 2005.
  3. Historic Scotland – Dunsyre Church