Serious concerns have been expressed that Lanark’s most important historic building is becoming a virtual bothy for under-age drinkers.
A worrying report on the current state of Old St Kentigerns Church - where William Wallace worshipped and was reputedly married in - has been made to the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council.
The building, also said to be the first home of the oldest continuously-run secondary school in Europe, Lanark Grammar, is currently under repair and partial restoration via the Lanark Community Development Trust.
Warnings that all this good work might go to waste have been issued in an update report on the state of the town’s heritage made to its Monday night monthly meeting.
It states: “Last week the safety fences were in total disarray and so youngsters have got into the area of the restoration and left a trail of litter – beer cans and body spray cans. Frankly this is a disgrace and again it is suggested that security cameras are installed and the graveyard is locked at night. The damage to the gravestones(in the surrounding Lanark Cemetery) is also on the increase.”
In the past when calls have been made to lock the cemetery at night, South Lanarkshire Council has replied that reasonable access to gravesides has to be maintained for the sake of legitimate visiting relatives of those laid to rest there.
The report, written by the unofficial Lanark town historian Ed Archer, is also critical of restoration and conversion work going on at the former Lanark Market stone auction ring, just yards away from St Kentigersns.
“The auction market restoration is moving at a snail’s pace and I would be surprised if the roof restoration is completed within the year. The planning department needs to hurry the process along.
“Similarly the question of the redundant Royal Oak needs to be addressed. In the High Street attention to the repainting of the west end of the Tolbooth needs to be done to harmonise with the work undertaken through the Tolbooth Trust.
“These matters should be a priority if we really want more visitors to Lanark. We need to press for our town to be neat and tidy and presentable.”
He said that Lanark did not want to be voted Scotland’s most down-at-heel town but there was a danger of this if its major historical sites are neglected. He added that the Wallace connection was particularly valuable as a tourism draw. May 3 is the anniversary of Wallace’s Rising in Lanark.