The Fleming Castle
- Romans, Normans, Comyns, Bruce, the
Douglases,James IV, Mary Stewart, Montrose, Cromwell,
Covenanters, Jacobites, Robert Adam, 19th century
soldiers and seamen - all are connected with
Cumbernauld's square mile of history, centred around
Cumbernauld House and Park.
- The Antonine Wall, of 114, with forts at
Castlecary and Westerwood.
- The Comyn motte, 400 yards from
- "Let the deed shaw" - the
Fleming motto - a reference to the tradition of Fleming
severing the head of the murdered Commyn in 1306. Bruce
granted him Comyn's lands in Cumbernauld as a reward.
- The building of the stone Cumbernauld
Castle after 1371.
- Fleming of Cumbernauld murdered by the
Douglases in 1406 for exposing their plan to kidnap the
child King James I and send him captive to England.
- Fleming of Cumbernauld beheaded at court
in Edinburgh in 1440 along with the two Douglas heirs
after the infamous 'Black Dinner' of James II.
- Castle Cary built after 1473 from
reparations paid by the Flemings for attacking their
- James IV wooed Margaret Drummond at
Cumbernauld Castle, where Margaret's sister was married
to Lord Fleming. The Drummonds sisters lie buried in
Dunblane Cathedral following their poisoning by a
government determined to marry an unwilling King James to
the sister of Henry VIII of England, Margaret Tudor. The
murders made James IV a frequent visitor to Cumbernauld,
Margaret Tudor accompanying him on one occasion.
- Mary Fleming was one of the four "Queen's
Maries". Mary and her brother, Lord Fleming of
Cumbernauld went into exile with Mary, Queen of Scots in
France. In 1558, Lord Fleming was one of the Scottish
Commissioners arranging the Queen's marriage to the
Dauphin of France. Fleming and other commissioners died
mysteriously on the voyage home, poison being suspected.
- In 1561 Queen Mary visited Cumbernauld
Castle. Tragically, the great hall collapsed during the
visit. Mary spent much time in Cumbernauld village
comforting relatives of those servants killed in the
accident. She also visited Castle Cary, where one of her
other "Maries", Mary Livingston, was staying.
The two young women planted a pair of yew trees which
still grow in the castle garden. Lord Fleming fought for
Mary at Langside in 1567 and, as Governor, led the
defence of Dumbarton Castle for the Queen, until its fall
- In 1640, John Graham, Marquis of Montrose,
together with Lord Fleming and other nobles, signed the
Cumbernauld Bond. This led to Montrose raising the royal
standard for Charles I in the Civil War and to his "year
of victories" in 1645 AD, which ended at the Battle
of Kilsyth. Lord Fleming narrowly escaped, together with
Montrose, from the field of Philliphaugh.
- In 1651, Cromwell's General, George Monck,
destroyed Cumbernauld Castle while Cromwell himself
destroyed Kilsyth Castle. Monck billeted English
Cromwellian troops in Cumbernauld village, 1651/54, as
part of his Forth - Clyde defence line against Covenanter
resistance from the north.
- The Restoration period after 1660 saw the
oppressed Cumbernauld Village Covenanters passing through
Cumbernauld Park to hold their conventicles on Abram the
Hebrew's Hill - later Hebronhill and now Abronhill.
- The 6th Earl of Wigton (Lord Fleming of
Cumbernauld) fought for 'Bonnie Dundee' and the Jacobites
at Killiecrankie in 1689. (Dundee's widow lies buried in
Kilsyth). Fleming was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle to
prevent him fighting in the 1715 Rising. At least this
meant he held his estates after the Rising collapsed.
- Cumbernauld House was built in 1731 by
William Adam, student of William Bruce who pioneered the
classical style in Scotland in the 18th century. The
style reached its height under Robert Adam, William
Adam's son. The House is a particularly good example of
William Adam's work.
- In 1746 the retreating Jacobite army was
billeted for a night in Cumbernauld village. Rather than
stay in Cumbernauld House, the commander, Lord George
Murray, slept in the village's Black Bull Inn, where he
could enforce closer discipline on his soldiers.
- The last Lord Fleming, Earl of Wigton,
died childless in 1747. The estates passed to the
Elphinstone family - Charles Elphinstone-Fleming, laird
from 1799-1840, had retired as Admiral and was MP for
Stirlingshire. His son Lieutenant-Colonel John
Elphinstone-Fleming, died unmarried in 1861.
- It is recalled that a daughter of the
Elphinstone-Flemings of Cumbernauld played a highly
prominent part in the development of early Victorian
- John Elphinstone-Fleming was succeeded by
his nephew from Canterbury, Cornwallis Maude-Fleming, son
of Lord Hawarden. Cornwallis was killed in action
fighting the Boers as a Captain of the Grenadier Guards
at Majuba Hill, Transvaal, in 1881. Before that, in 1875,
he had sold the Cumbernauld estate to William Burns, of
the shipping family. The Burns family sold the estate to
the government for new town development in 1955.
- Cumbernauld House is part of a historical
conservation area running from the listed Kirk and manse
at Baronhill, through the Village conservation area with
its Lang Riggs, to the site of Cumbernauld Castle and
beyond that to the Comyn Motte and adjacent lime kilns.
The whole represents the classic 'herringbone' layout of
the mediaeval Scottish burgh with its principal street
running from the castle to the church, along the summit
of a ridge, with long narrow gardens (the Lang Riggs)
stretching out behind. Cumbernauld village boasts almost
the sole survivors of the land riggs feature in Scotland.
From the slopes of the Wilderness Brae a panoramic view
of the whole arrangement may be obtained - a view unique
in Scotland: Edinburgh's 'Royal Mile' in miniature. The
wide centre of Main Street accommodated the stalls of the
- Part of Cumbernauld Castle's courtyard
buildings is still standing, particularly the wall at
Cumbernauld House which separates the lower service court
from the car park. on the lower side of this wall is a
row of distinctively 16th century pattern corbels. in the
basement of the Adam pavilion, also forming a limit to
the car park, are two vaults of the same period as the
adjoining wall. The domestic perimeter of the castle
extends as far as 70 yards north - east of Cumbernauld
- The Castle was one of the biggest in
Scotland, with a considerable series of buildings and
courtyards. It occupied a nine acre site under and around
the present House. the castle's size reflects the power
of the Flemings as Earls of Wigtoun, Lords of Cumbernauld
and Biggar, Governors of Dumbarton Castle and traditional
supporters of the Bruce and Stewart dynasties.
- Fleming House in the new town centre,
Wigtoun Place in the old Village and the "Red Comyn"
public house serve as reminders of our local history. The
traditional old Village gala day is called the "Lang
Riggs Fair", complete with a Mary, Queen of Scots
gala queen with her 'Four Maries'.
1/ Charter by King Robert III (of Scotland) to
Malcom Fleming, son and heir of David Fleming of Biggar, knight (and
his heirs).....of Castle of Cumbernauld with these five merk
lands in which it is situated, with the pertinents, the lands of
Badsherry, the lands of Dirletry or Dillator, the lands of
Auchinstarie with pretinents............with the forest of
Cumbernauld and the miln of Badsherry (Lenzie Mill) Sealed and
dated at Scone. 7th March 1400 ad
2/ Charter granted by King Charles I, of ever
blessed memory, to John, Lord Fleming, and his lady, regarding
the lands of the lordship of Cumbernauld, detailing Stirling
areas, Peebles, Monklands (inc.Glentore) and that the house of
Cumbernauld built or to be built be the messuage for sasine.
Holyroodhouse. 1634 ad
3/ A Precept signed by King Charles II, of
lands of William, Earl of Wigtoun, creating the town Cumbernauld
as a burgh of barony with a weekly mercat, and two yearly fairs.
impression of how Cumbernauld Castle might have looked circa 1550
John Kirkhope RIBA ARIAS 9th August 1996
The Castle from a fact
sheet issued by Cumbernauld & Kilsyth District Council
When the Flemings came to construct their
castle at the end of the 14th century, the best they would have
been able to build would have been a strong
stone tower. The country was much too impoverished to permit
anything more ambitious, such as the great courtyard types of
baronial strongholds built before the death of Alexander III.
Such a tower would have been an "L-Plan",
a rectangular block, with a wing projecting at the end of one of
the long sides. A few small timber or stone outbuildings would
also have been attached. As time went on, and the power and
influence of the family grew, the castle would have been enlarged
by the addition of other stone structures, such as a Great Hall
for festive occasions.
The site chosen is where Cumbernauld House
stands today and, although the original tower has disappeared,
blocks of its masonry can be picked out amongst the stones used
to construct Cumbernauld House.
Part of the courtyard buildings are still
standing, particularly the wall that separates the lower service
area from the car park. on the lower side of this is a long row
of corbels, or projecting stones, of a distinctive 16th century
pattern, designed to support timbers of a lean-to building.
In 1963-4, Cumbernauld Historical Society, in
co-operation with Glasgow Archaeological Society excavated an
area to the north east of Cumbernauld House and uncovered part of
the domestic periphery of the castle, comprising a 15th century
rubbish chute, an adjoining prison and cellar and a well house
reached by a flight of steps. In 1981-2 Cumbernauld and Kilsyth
District Museums excavated an area adjacent to the earlier
excavation and found a cobbled courtyard, the base of a circular
building and significant walling.