In 2011, the West of Scotland Archaeology Service was approached by members of the newly-formed Rutherglen Heritage Group, who were working with the Museum Service of South Lanarkshire Council to develop a project to locate, photograph and record all of the surviving boundary stones marking the limits of the medieval royal burgh of Rutherglen.
Rutherglen is believed to have been made a royal burgh by King David I (1124-1153), meaning that it is older than its nearby neighbour, the baronial burgh of Glasgow. The town's royal status did not ensure its prosperity however, and it was soon eclipsed economically by Glasgow. Nevertheless, throughout its history the town remained fiercely protective of its independence, and erected a large number of boundary stones to physically delineate the burgh lands as a means of asserting its separate trading rights and distinct identity.
The system of burgh boundary stones was vigorously maintained into the latter part of the nineteenth century, but suffered from increasing neglect and erosion during the succeeding century. Records indicate that at one time there were around 370 stones, but only 130 had survived by the 1950s. Fifty-seven stones were known to exist in the 1980s, but the Heritage Group hoped to establish how many were still standing, and to record their exact locations. As part of the project, staff from the Archaeology Service provided members of the Heritage Group information and assistance, in the form of detailed maps and site reports on the recorded locations of known stones, and advice on recording techniques. The Heritage Group has recently completed the first stage of the project, and has located, described, photographed and mapped 60 stones. While some of those recorded in the 1980s could not be found, 14 previously-unrecorded examples were identified, and information on these, along with updated details for the other stones, will be integrated back into the HER to ensure that these locally important monuments are protected into the future. The photographs on this page illustrate some of the different styles of stone identified during the course of the survey.