Through Great Britain and Ireland With Cromwell - H. E. Marshall

Oliver Goes to Stirling and to Glasgow

After the battle of Dunbar, Cromwell returned to Edinburgh. There he lodged as an enemy in Moray House, where, a few years before, he had been received as an honoured guest. The castle of Edinburgh was held by the Royalist Scots, but at this time Oliver did not try to take it, and in a few days he marched northward, meaning to besiege Stirling.

Cromwell marched through Linlithgowshire, one of the finest farming counties in Scotland. He rode down the long street of the town of Linlithgow, which, like Northampton, is famous for its boots. It is famous, too, for its grand old palace, once the dwelling-place of kings. Now the town is quiet and sleepy, and the trade has drifted away to the towns and villages lying on the coal fields round, and to the rising port of Bo'ness. In the time of Cromwell Bo'ness was the second seaport in the kingdom, but afterwards it lost its trade and importance.

From Linlithgow Cromwell went to Falkirk, famous for its cattle-market or "tryst."

Falkirk now is a busy place. It lies on a coal field, and is near splendid farming country called the Carse. It is at the head of a canal joining the Forth and Clyde, and so does great trade with Glasgow. The famous Carron iron works are near, and the trade in coal and iron has made the port of Grangemouth grow rapidly.

From Falkirk Cromwell marched by the field of Bannockburn to within gunshot of Stirling.

In old times Stirling was a place of great importance. It was the key of all the north, for it lies at the head of the Forth, where it becomes navigable. Its castle, built on a high rock rising sheer out of a fertile plain, held the pass between the Ochils on the north, and the Campsie Fells on the south.

Here kings have ruled, Parliaments have sat, and battles have been fought. Now the old glory of Stirling has passed away. It is no longer a dwelling-place of kings, but has become a manufacturing town, having both iron works and woollen manufactures.

But at this time, although Stirling was garrisoned, had Cromwell only known it, by "none but green new-levied sojours," he did not take it but turned back again to Edinburgh.

At Linlithgow he made a halt. There he fortified the town and left a garrison, for he saw that from this town he could command Bo'ness and Blackness Castle, a strong fortress, farther down the coast.

Having stayed about three weeks in Edinburgh, Cromwell then marched across the country to Glasgow.

Glasgow is the trade capital of Scotland, and is the second city in the United Kingdom. In the hurry and bustle of its streets, in the noise and clamour of its river banks, in its smoke and fog and dirt, it is more like London than any other city. Glasgow has a splendid harbour with miles of quay and dock, where the largest ships afloat can lie. Yet there are men still living who can remember when it was possible to walk across the Clyde, where now these great vessels float. The bed of the river used to be wide and shallow, but rocks have been blown up and drilled out, tons of mud and stones have been scraped away, until the channel is now twenty-two feet deep. And still the work goes on, and every year masses of stone and mud are dredged from the river bed.

All this of course cost a great deal of money. But it had to be done if the trade of the west of Scotland was to succeed. For the Firth of Clyde is the only great river estuary on the west, in the Lowlands. And here, in the Lowlands, lies the wealth of Scotland. Here are fertile plains, pastoral hills, and, above all, rich coal and iron fields. Upon these have grown up all kinds of factories, until the country, round Glasgow especially, has become one vast workshop, where the sky is dark with smoke-clouds and the air filled with the roar and clatter of machinery. And if all this industry was to prosper, an outlet for finished goods and an inlet for raw material had to be found near at hand.

Thus in Glasgow and the country round are crowded all the industries which in England are spread over many towns. The iron shipbuilding yards of the Clyde are more important now than those of the Thames or the Tyne. In Glasgow there are iron furnaces as great as those of South Wales. It has cotton factories like Manchester, woollen factories like Yorkshire, potteries, silk works, chemical works, metal works, and many other factories and industries. It is the natural centre of all the commerce and trade of the country round. It gives wealth and work to almost one-third of all the people of Scotland. Besides this it is a place of learning, having a University and a great Technical School.

But when Oliver and his soldiers came to Glasgow there was little of all this to be seen. It seemed to them "a very clean and well-formed town," and "though not so big nor so rich, yet to all seeming a much sweeter and more delightful place than Edinburgh, and would make a gallant head-quarters."