21st Century problems are old news here in Clydesdale!

Historic landmark...Corra Castle centuries ago before a flood carried away the mill, which is shown in the picture below the fortification.
Historic landmark...Corra Castle centuries ago before a flood carried away the mill, which is shown in the picture below the fortification.

When it comes to modern issues like climate change and leaving Europe, Clydesdale’s been through it all before.

Around 9000 years ago, in actual fact!

So says the Gazette’s own acting unpaid history correspondent Ed Archer, whose investigations with the Lanark and District Archaeological Society have shown just what a part global warming has played in our local history and how it even led to our first ‘Brexit’.

A historically recent example of chaotic climate change contributed to the flooding of Carstairs Junction in 1915.

A historically recent example of chaotic climate change contributed to the flooding of Carstairs Junction in 1915.

Ed explained: “About 16,000 years ago Scotland was still physically linked to Europe and we have evidence of hunters walking to Elsrickle from Germany to hunt reindeer. Perhaps they domesticated them to carry tents and flint to make tools.

“That all came to an end around 9000 years ago when the underwater Norwegian Trench collapse sent a massive tsunami across the northern part of the North Sea which flooded the land between Britain and the Continent.

“This came about as a result of global warming – melting glaciers etc.

“Volcanoes too have played their part, particularly Heckla in Iceland – a massive explosion in c.1100 BC brought devastation to Scotland, the equivalent of a nuclear winter.

“Rain and damp for years afterwards caused the peat to grow and cover some of the archaeological sites on the Lang Whang. Several feet of acidic peat was formed.

“Then, in the early 5th century there was a mini ice age. Bad weather struck us, again caused by volcanoes – this time in far away Indonesia where Mt Tambora erupted twice in 536 and 541 AD.

“It was so big that the sun did not shine properly in Scotland and there was snow in the summer.

“After Bannockburn in 1314 there was widespread flooding and freezing weather across Western Europe. This hindered Scotland’s recovery from the Wars of Independence and our economy took several centuries to recover.

“Then there were the seven ill years at the end of the 17th century from 1692-1699 where there was very poor weather coupled with political problems, leading to the 1707 Union.”

Global warming on our doorstep

In the late 18th century volcanic eruptions in Iceland were particularly bad, the Laki eruptions between 1783-1784 leading to widespread deaths throughout Scotland for those who had asthmatic conditions.

To add to the woes, the country’s crops also failed due to poor weather conditions.

It caused the Clyde to produce the worse floods ever and it even affected the Corra Linn Falls, as well as taking a mill beneath Corra Castle away completely.

However, in more recent times there have been shifts in the weather patterns with more violent storms such as the hurricane of 1884 which affected the Biggar area badly.

There was a major downpour in 1915 at Carstairs in August of that year (pictured far left).

The sudden flooding nearly caused drownings, with the customers in the village Co-op store being trapped by rising waters. They took refuge in the shop’s upper floor. Then in 1926 the Lanimers had to be held in the new Memorial Hall as the weather was so bad.

About the same time there was severe flooding in Lesmahagow which bought large boulders into the main street.

Indeed, there have been many variations in climate, not just man-made, across the centuries but one thing seems certain – the weather is currently getting warmer both in winter and summer thoughout Scotland according to the climate experts.

The downside of this is that we’ll get a lot more summer rain.

For all the upheavals our climate has caused in Clydesdale, one relatively minor incident 40 years ago sticks in the local memory, the winter when the temperature in Carnwath fell to a record low of -25 degrees, freezing the beer in the pub cellars. In a way, this weather event caused a drought rather than a flood!