Archaeological work by the NTS in West Central Scotland

By Derek Alexander 

The National Trust for Scotland has 13 properties that fall within the boundaries of the local authority areas that make up West Central Scotland, comprising East and West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde and Glasgow City. These properties are very varied in type and size but mostly consist of historic buildings set within their own grounds. In total, the area within Trust ownership is 122.91 hectares and includes over 136 archaeological sites and features (Appendix 1). Of this total only one site at Black Hill is designated as a Scheduled Monument but around nine are Listed Buildings. This paper forms an overview of the archaeological work undertaken at these properties and how they fit into the Trust’s new 10 Year Vision: Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone.  

Greenbank House at dusk © Jim McDougall (CC BY-SA)

Trust properties in West Central Scotland 

Douglas Bremner’s book provides a summary of the Trust acquisitions from 1931 – 2000 (Bremner 2001, Appendix Two, 292-3). In chronological order of acquisition, the NTS properties in west central Scotland include: Crookston Castle (1931), Black Hill (1936), Castlehill (1936), Provan Hall (1938), Parklea Farm (1949), Weaver’s Cottage (1954), Greenbank Gardens (1976), Tenement House (1982), Hutcheson’s Hall (1982), the Cameronians’ Regimental Memorial (1991), Wester Kittochside (1992), Holmwood (1994) and the management of Pollok House (1998). The Trust has archives relating to each of these properties and has completed Management Plans or Property Statements for nearly all of them. There are guidebooks available for the main staffed visitor attractions including Weaver’s Cottage, Greenbank, Tenement House, Holmwood and Pollok House.  

The National Trust for Scotland properties in west central Scotland © NTS
NTS Property in West Central Scotland SMs LBs Arch sites Battlefield Inventory Gardens and Designed Landscapes HLS/ DLS HBS Description 
Cameronians Regimental Memorial No significant archaeology known but is on edge of historic Douglas village 
Castlehill, Dumbarton No confirmed archaeology, but supposed fortified site. 
Greenbank House & Garden 73 Embedded archaeology of the house and designed landscape. HLS carried out by GUARD 
Holmwood  Ruined house under tennis court area, plus embedded archaeology of house and under garden. HLS of garden during major repair project but full HBS is required to record all work undertaken. 
Hutcheson’s Hall Possible evidence of medieval Glasgow underneath. 
Kittochside, The Museum of Scottish Country Life 45 Evidence embedded within farmhouse and associated buildings, plus buried evidence of farming landscape. HLS and HBS of farmhouse carried out by Peter McGown Associates. 
Pollok House (leased fr GCC) Extensive embedded archaeology of the house and gardens. HLS for Glasgow City Council by Land Use Consultants. 
Provan Hall Important 16th century building with embedded archaeology. HLS for Glasgow City Council and detailed HBS by Kirkdale. 
Tenement House Some buildings archaeology. 
Weaver’s Cottage Extensive embedded archaeology of the early 18th century cottage and associated buildings. 
Black Hill Cairn, fort and settlement – rare combination in southern uplands Scheduled prehistoric site. Survey of site by both RCAHMS and ACFA. 
Parklea Farm Timber holding areas in river are of interest. 
Table of NTS Highland Properties and their Archaeological Resource 

Beside each property are columns that list the number of Scheduled Monuments (SMs), Listed buildings (LBs) and the overall known number of individual archaeological sites identified largely as a result of walk-over surveys. There are two further columns which indicate whether part of that property is included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes and the Inventory of Historic Battlefields. Then there are two columns which indicate whether detailed Historic Landscape Surveys (HLS), Designed Landscape Surveys (DLS) or Historic Building Surveys (HBS) have been carried out.  The comments column provides a brief description of the type of archaeology and the major pieces of survey work carried out there.


The National Trust for Scotland was set up in 1931 after a meeting in Pollok House under the oversight of Sir John Stirling-Maxwell. Indeed, the first property to be given to the Trust was Crookston Castle, by Sir John. This is now a Guardianship site; still owned by NTS, but managed by Historic Environment Scotland. Pollok House is owned by Glasgow City Council but managed on a day-to-day basis by the Trust.  The wider estate, that forms Pollok Country Park is covered by an NTS Conservation Agreement but still managed by the Council. In contrast the buildings and park at Provan Hall, Easterhouse, are owned by the Trust, and for many years were managed by Glasgow City Council, although this responsibility has now transferred to the Friends of Provan Hall Trust. Parklea Farm at Greenock is managed by Inverclyde Council; Castlehill, Cardross, is managed by West Dunbartonshire Council and Wester Kittochside now forms part of the National Museum of Rural Life, managed by National Museums Scotland. Finally, Hutcheson’s Hall, which used to be a visited property, was let as a restaurant to a private company. 

Crookston Castle © Lairich Rig (CC BY-SA)

When the Trust employed its first archaeologist, Robin Turner, in 1993 one of the main tasks was to undertake a review of the archaeological sites on NTS land, to provide advice on their management and to take opportunities to expand our understanding and inform their interpretation. The Trust’s landownership in west central Scotland does not include large areas of countryside or upland landscapes so it was relatively easy to look at the properties in chronological order from oldest to most recent.  

Sites by period

Later Prehistory

Medieval – Late Medieval

17th-18th Century

19th Century


This review of archaeological work at properties belonging to the National Trust for Scotland in the area of west central Scotland has highlighted just how much has been done over the last 28 years. Just under 50 reports have been completed but despite the results being published in DES and included in Canmore, much of this work is not well-known. This is largely because these reports are unpublished grey literature reports and are generally kept within the Trust offices, at properties and the Head Office in Edinburgh. Another reason for the limited awareness of the Trust’s archaeological work is the fact that a lot of the work has built up over time, incrementally. It should be noted that major elements of this work have made their way into Trust interpretation materials: panels, leaflets and guidebooks. Some stories, often the fieldwork element, have featured in local and national media and social media.  Twitter and Facebook (see links below) have also been used to disseminate results. 

While extensive this review is only part of the picture but does at least cover the major surveys and excavations. It does not include the numerous small-scale watching briefs and survey undertaken as part of the day-to-day conservation work of the Trust.  

The gradual accumulation of archaeological knowledge over time reflects the nature of the Trust’s conservation work and the long-term planning that it is often based on. Since 1993 the Trust have undertaken or commissioned detailed survey work that has provided a base level of archaeological data to help with conservation management decisions. This solid foundation has been built on by focussed site surveys and targeted excavations. The Clyde Valley Regional Archaeological Research Framework has provided an ideal opportunity to review this work and to help shape thinking towards the Trust’s archaeological strategy for the next 10 years. This will link into the larger Trust-wide strategy that is currently being developed as the organisation moves towards its centenary in 2031.   


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Alexander, D and Gorman, D 2007 Wester Kittochside Drainage Works, Watching Brief, February 2007. Internal NTS Report. 

Alexander, D and McCrae, G 2012 Renfrewshire: A Scottish County’s Hidden Past. Birlinn Press. 

Alexander, D 2001 ‘Provan Hall, Glasgow’, Discovery Excav Scot, New Series, Vol 2, 2001, 49 

Alexander, D and Miller, M 2003 Wester Kittochside Farm, Horse Gin, entry in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series, Vol 4, 2003, 125 Fig 59. 

Alexander, D 2009 ‘Hyndhill Park, East Renfrewshire (Mearns parish), fieldwalking’, entry in Discovery Excav Scot, New, vol. 10, 2009, 71 

Alexander, D 2014 Greenbank House – Archaeology Day. Trial Trenching 2014. Unpublished internal report (draft) 

Alexander, D 2015 ‘The Iron Age’ in Essays on the Local History and Archaeology of West Central Scotland. Glasgow Museums. 

Alexander, D 2019 Weaver’s Cottage Garden, Evaluation, entry in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 2019, New Series, Vol 20, 2019, 168.  

Amabilino, A 2020 Provan Hall, Auchinlea Park, Easterhouse, Glasgow, Monitoring: December 2020. Addyman Archaeology 

Bremner, D 2001 For the Benefit of the Nation: The National Trust for Scotland: The First 70 Years.  

Casey, C and Alexander, D 2005 Kittochside Fieldwalking, September 2005. Internal report for NTS. 

Driscoll and Mitchell, S and M 2008 ‘Pollok Ring-work, Glasgow (Eastwood parish), excavation’, entry in Discovery Excav Scot, New, vol. 9, 2008, 88-90 

Ewart, G, Hogg, S and Whalley, T 2009 Provan Hall 2009 Archaeological Building Survey. January – February 2009. 11th March 2009. Unpublished report by Kirkdale Archaeology. 

Francoz, C 2013 Hutcheson’s Hall, Glasgow, Standing Building Survey, Northlight Heritage, Report 4326161. Commissioned by the National Trust for Scotland. 

Glendinning and Neighbour, B and T. 1998 ‘Holmwood House (Cathcart parish), Victorian kitchen garden’, Discovery Excav Scot, 1998. Page(s): 44 

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Harrison, J 2009 Provan Hall Historical Report. Unpublished report.  

James, E 2018 18th and 19th century pottery from excavations at Weaver’s Cottage, in 2002 and 2007.  

James, H F, Lelong, O, Taggart, J and Tompsett, G 1996 Greenbank Garden Historic Landscape Survey: A landscape and archaeology survey for the National Trust for Scotland. GUARD report 300.  

James, H F 1997 Greenbank House Archaeological watching Brief. GUARD report 

Johnson, A 1959 Pollock estate, Glasgow’, entry in Discovery Excav Scot, 1959, 25-6 

Johnson, A.1960 ‘Pollock estate, Glasgow’, entry in Discovery Excav Scot, 1960, 29-30 

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LUC 2002 Pollok Estate Management Plan, Report by Land Use Consultants, commissioned by Glasgow City Council.  

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May, J and Nisbet S M 2014 Greenbank Garden, NTS Guidebook.  

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Murtagh, P 2017 ‘Investigating the Past: Castle Qua and Black Hill, Data Structure Report, 2017 Excavation, South Lanarkshire, CAVLP Heritage. 

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RCAHMS 1978. Lanarkshire: An Inventory of the Prehistoric and Roman Monuments, HMSO: RCAHMS Edinburgh. 

RCAHMS 2001 Wester Kittochside: the Museum of Scottish Country Life, RCAHMS Broadsheet 7,  Edinburgh. 

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Sproat, D, Humble, J and Hudson, G 2018 Weaver’s Cottage, The Cross, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, Historic Building Survey Report. Report by AOC Archaeology commissioned by NTS. 

Thomson, M 1987 Report on visit by staff of the Scottish Urban Archaeological Trust’s Glasgow Rescue Excavation Project to Provan Hall, Easterhouse. Copy of typescript report 6 pages in NTS archive.  

Turner, R 1994 Greenbank Garden, Eastwood, Strathclyde, Archaeological Excavations 1994 Archive Report (draft) 

Wallace, I R 2020 Leaving a mark on history. The stonemasons’ marks of selected medieval ecclesiastical and secular buildings of central and southern Scotland. MRes thesis. University of Glasgow. 

Welsh, T C 1973 ‘Philipshill Mill’ in Society for Scottish Industrial Archaeology Newsletter, Vol Part 2; 14 

Winter, S 2007 The Archaeology and History of Philipshill Mill, Wester Kittochside. Unpublished report for the NTS. 

Winter, S and Alexander, D 2007 Philipshill Mill, survey’, entry in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, New Series, Vol 8, 2007, 186-187. 

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