CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM MEMORIAL PARK - "The Mony". Cardross Road and Castlehill Road, Castle Hill, Dumbarton.
ACCESS : Easy acccess with paved paths.
There are ample lawns, two natural rock outcrops with trees and a single sports court. Other than that this. it s a park awaiting to happen. A good place to walk the dog though.
This abrupt description of the park should not detract from its association with a very significant figure : 'Don Roberto' Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852–1936), a Scottish author, politician, traveller and horseman. He was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP); the first ever socialist member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom; a founder and the first president of the Scottish Labour Party; a founder of the National Party of Scotland in 1928; and he was the first president of the Scottish National Party in 1934. [Wiki]. His local connections are because during some of his youth he lived very nearby at Ardoch House in Ardoch. Ardoch has historically been within the Parish of Cardross, as was most of this side of the Leven and also within Dunbartonshire until the county boundaries were redrawn in 1996. Anyway this means that Cunninghame Graham was considered a local hero to the people of Dumbarton.
It is unsurprising that the locals sentimentally took a shine to this character, claiming him as their own and associating something of him with this park. Cunningham Graham's association with this area is only partial. He also grew up at Finlaystone across the Clyde from here and spent much of his adventurous days in Argentina. The family estate was at Gartmore. He repurchased the family home at Ardoch where he spent his final years. The monument to him, which was unveiled here, in this park, the year after his death in 1936, was removed in 1981 to Gartmore - in spite of the estate having been sold in 1901. This left a sort of gap locally as a place of remembrance here and the park itself was duly named in his honour.
The little sign lovingly inscribed on a rock at the entrance to the park is hardly a due replacement of the monument. Yet it is only a taste of this propensity to name places such as this after someone with tenuous associations. We are standing here on Castlehill and down towards the Clyde is Bruce Hill. Both of these names allude strongly to King Robert the Bruce.
As you enter the park from Castlehill Road and pass the rock inscribed with “Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park” and “Mony”, you immediately come to a sizeable rock outcrop covered with trees and brambles. On maps from the last two centuries this is ascribed to Robert the Bruce's final abode; his castle - hence “Castlehill” and Bruce Hill”. That has apparently been disproved with a mansion on the Leven being the more likely option, but this attribution has imprinted itself of the suburbs and residents.
Very close to this rock outcrop is another smaller one. This one has been labelled as “Arthur's Seat”. There are “Arthur's Seats” all over the country. Such appellations are rather fanciful and romantic. Such names refer to King Arthur. While there is increasing agreement that such a person did indeed exist back in history, there is dissent as to how far his influence stretched physically or whether it was more through subsequent legend that grew around him.
And “The Mony”? Locals may refer to this stone which replaces the now long gone larger monument to Cunninghame Graham. It has become known by this abbreviated name as somewhere to meet and ithe name stuck. This inscription that you see today reminds us of that.
The replacement monument to Cunninghame Graham - "the Mony".
The motte of Bruce's Castle. Really? It appears on maps from about 1860 as such, but this appears to be wishful thinking.
This small hill is has some nice mature trees on it - and a lot of brambles.
To the left in this photo is Arthur's Seat. Another fanciful attribution. That is "Bruce's Castle" site just beyond it.
This OS map dates from 1860. You can make out the outcrop labelled as "Castle Hill - Site of Castle" and to the left / west of it "Arthur's Seat". The combined sites of that of the "castle" site and the area in front of it roughly align with the current extents of the Cunninghame Graham Memorial Park.
Much has been written about Cunninghame Graham and you can find many photographs of him on Google Images. This one is an illustration from the cover of a book by Lachlan Gow Munro entitled R. B. Cunninghame Graham and Scotland : Party, Prose and Political Aesthetic.
Also see : BRUCE HILL AND CASTLE HILL index.asp?pageid=715980
MUNRO, LACHLAN : R. B. Cunninghame Graham and Scotland : Party, Prose and Political Aesthetic. ISBN 9781474498265
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND (NLS) : Map reproduced with permission. Archive title : "Dumbartonshire, Sheet XXII (includes: Cardross; Dumbarton; Erskin...
Survey date: 1860 , Publication date: 1864". https://maps.nls.uk/view/74426624
UNDISCOVERED SCOTLAND : https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usbiography/c/robertcunninghamegraham.html