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Cambuslang and King Arthur

Cambuslang's name may derive from its location on the banks of a large bend on the River Clyde. Cambus literally means bend of the water in Scots and lang means long. It may also mean long bay - the bend in the Clyde was once the highest tidal bay on the river before a weir was built at Glasgow more than 100 years ago.

The Latin derivation of lang suggests a curved bank of a fast moving stream and the Old Parish Church was built on such a bank of the Kirk Burn that flows into the Clyde a mile or so down river. The rectangular parish church, with its square central tower, also stands on a hill - the Anglo-Saxon Camb means a crest or ridge. Designed by Edinburgh architect David Cousin, the 'B' listed building, which has an impressive vaulted interior and curved gallery supported on cast-iron columns, was built in the Kirkhill area between 1839 and 1841 on the site of previous churches dating back as far as the 1680s. Construction of the chancel was started in 1919 to a design by Peter MacGregor Chalmers and was completed in 1922.

Going back further in time, it has been suggested that Cambuslang is near where King Arthur won the the sixth of his 12 famous battles around 508AD, as described in the ninth century Historia Brittonum, written by Welsh scholar Nennius. Cambuslang is also supposedly where King Arthur killed the outlawed sons of Caw, a local enemy of Arthur who was buried in the area.

Of the few historical sites in the area, the most notable is probably Gilbertfield Castle, which was built by the Hamilton family in the early 17th century near Dechmont hill to the south of Cambuslang in the ancient barony of Drumsagard. By the 18th century it was owned by the retired soldier William Hamilton of Gilbertfield who translated the famous poem Sir William Wallace by Blind Harry from old Scots into English. The Braveheart movie starring Mel Gibson was based on the epic poem which was written in 1477, 172 years after Wallace was executed at Smithfield, London.

Another historic but less well known event was the evangelical phenomenon, the Cambuslang Wark in 1742. This was a massive religious event started by the local parish minister, Mr McCulloch, whose parishioners believed that a special outpouring of the Divine Spirit had taken place. Over a six month period, more than 30,000 people, many of them not even religious, flocked to the area to hear several thousand speakers.

Around this time the population was primarily weavers, colliers, masons and agricultural labourers but with the coming of the industrial revolution it became a major centre of heavy industry with coal mining, textiles and iron manufacturing. Along with most of the rest of the country, heavy industry died off in the second half of the 20th century but in the 1980s the town saw the start of a redevelopment of its derelict industrial areas, with the establishment of an Investment Park, South Lanarkshire College and Scotland's first indoor kart-racing track.