Rock Carving Photos by Gordon Wilson Mason
Blantyre Priory Carving’s
Ever since these carvings appeared on the rock face of the red sandstone crag on which once stood the medieval Blantyre Priory, (early 13th. century) questions have always been asked as to the their authenticity, when were they done, who done them and what do they mean? Various reasons, answers and explanations have been given throughout the years, some of them bordering on the ridiculous.
To those of us who lived in Blantyre at the time of the carvings there has never been a problem with their authenticity, they were carved in the mid 1950‘s, probably 1956, by local man, Tommy Hawkins. They depict 3 Stations of the Cross, eg; Christ carrying his cross, Christ crucified, Christ in repose. The smaller carvings around the foot of the cross represent His Mother Mary, Mary of Magdalena, a few of his brother Apostles, and a Roman Centurion.
There are a few smaller carvings nearby which were done in profile, one of which is, David Livingstone with Cap and neckerchief, sadly with the passage of time, weather erosion and vandalism has badly damaged every one of them.
Tommy, who was very artistic was also a very shy person, and only worked at these carvings late at night or early morning, sometimes by the light of a miner’s small Carbide / Acetylene lamp, which he carried with him. Should anyone approach him during these working times he would simply walk away without saying a word about anything or what he was doing!
Like the rest of the young boys of that time, the 1930’s/1940‘s,he spent most of the long summer holidays “ Doon the Braes” (River Clyde) at the Big Sanny, the part of the river where all of us young lads learned to swim. It was here also that he supposedly took a handful of the rich sandy clay and fashioned it into a likeness of the artist Rodin’s masterpiece “The Thinker”. I’m not to sure about this, a relative of his told me that he had a self made copy of this work in his house! but every time I’m in Kelvingrove Art Galleries, I always think of him whenever I see their copy of the thinker !
The posed photo above is the Man himself showing how the carvings were done. A Niece of Tommy’s who lives in the capital of Blantyre, (Logan Street) gave me this photograph.
James Cornfield. 2009.
Photographs of The Rock Carvings
Kindly sent in by Gordon Wilson Mason
Historic Lanarkshire: Bothwell Castle
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