Covington History – Covington hamlet in Lanarkshire, Scotland



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Official Geographical Location:

Grid Ref: NS 9756 3977 • X/Y co-ords: 297569, 639779 • Lat/Long: 55.64070129,-3.62891928

Geographical Description:

Covington, a hamlet and a parish in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. The hamlet stands between the Clyde and the Caledonian railway, 1¼ mile N by E of its station and post-town Thankerton,, this being 33½ miles SW of Edinburgh and 36½ SE of Glasgow; at it is the parish church (230 sittings), an old building enlarged in the early part of last century.


A habitation name from Covinton was first recorded in the late 12th Century in the Latin form Villa Colbani, "Colban's or Cowan's village", and 20 years later as Colbaynistun. The proprietor was a follower of David, Prince of Cumbria circa 1120. By 1434 the name had been collapsed to Cowantoun, and at the end of the 15th Century, it first appears in the form Covingtoun. It is, nevertheless clearly named with the personal name Colban, possibly derived to Coleman and the Old English "tun", enclosure or settlement.

There could be association with Cobbinshaw or Cobinshaw (18 miles South West of Edinburgh) and Colinton (a village, now part of South West Edinburgh), both of which are in Midlothian.

Covington has a castle ruin, situated 1 mile North East of Thankerton. Covington Castle can be seen from the unclassified road north of Thankerton in Lanarkshire, on a south facing saddle of land to the west of the River Clyde. Historically it was surrounded by marshland which now manifests as two minor burns surrounding the saddle which eventually flow into the Clyde. To the north and south the saddle rises to form low summits, but as the site is enclosed by natural wet defences, it is better placed than might initially be expected. The castle is within a field used by livestock, so it is not particularly accessible.

Covington Castle - The Castle Guy

The castle from the road consists of a ruined rectangular tower, but on closer inspection, it is clear that it also lies within a set of earthworks, the nature of which is not apparent. The tower itself is centrally placed upon a squarish platform about 40 metres wide surrounded by a ditch, and which contains smaller ditches which may represent the robbed out foundations of walls, although the layout is not clear. On the western side, the ditch extends for some distance to the south, with two further platforms visible. The central platform is narrow, perhaps 10 metres by 40, and the southernmost measures about 30 metres by 50, and is partially occupied by a burial ground. This platform is surrounded by two narrower ditches, but these are incomplete, and may be obscured by the presence of a lane to the south of them. To the east, a further ditch can be traced running north-south along the edge of the road and extending for roughly the same length as the castle site. The tower has very thick walls at about 3.3 metres, and the basement is provided with narrow slit windows to east, south and west, with a single entrance doorway facing north. This level was vaulted, and contained an entresol level. The entrance lobby provides access to a narrow mural stair to the west in the thickness of the wall; in the north-west corner this becomes a winding stair leading to the first floor, which consisted of a single great hall with larger windows and a fireplace at the eastern end; there are small mural chambers to each side. On the second floor the windows are smaller, and this level probably contained a number of chambers; the third floor was the attic level. All the dressed masonry has been robbed, including the parapet, and masonry has also been removed (or fallen) from much of the highest portions of the tower.

The earthworks are certainly consistent with a moated manor of the thirteenth century, although it may have earlier origins; a lord called Colbin was a witness to several of the charters of David I and it is believed that “Colbinston” has eventually become “Covington” over the centuries. The Colbanston family continued in residence at Covington until 1265, when the lands were taken into the possession of the crown. In 1296, Edward I received the homage of Edmund de Colbanston, and shortly afterwards the sheriff of Lanark granted it to Margaret of the same family. Robert Bruce later granted the manor to the Earl Marischal, Robert Keith, who may have kept the Colbanstons as tenants, since by 1420 Covington was in the hands of John Lindsay, who had married an heiress of the family. It was the Lindsays who built the tower in 1442, and they remained in residence until 1679, apart from a brief period in the 1530s, when it was held as surety for the laird’s good behaviour after he committed murder. The estate was eventually sold to Sir George Lockhart after William Lindsay of Covington was unable to pay his debts, although a legal dispute ensued as the Lockharts took over all the Lindsay lands, not just those of Covington. It is unclear what happened to the castle after this date, but Sir George took the Jacobite side in 1715. His second son Alexander, was later known as Lord Covington, but lived at Craighouse. By the 1750s, when General Roy produced his map, the tower is still shown within the settlement, so it seems probable that it remained in use to this date, but was ruined by 1816, probably used for building materials to construct the farm.

The parish is of approx 5110 acres of which 2000 are arable, 80 acres woodland and plantation and the remainder being sheep pasture. The cattle are mainly of Angus breed and sheep are of the black faced kind.

The parish of Covington and Thankerton is about 4 miles in length South to North and nearly 3 miles in average breadth. It is bounded to the East by the River Clyde, which separates it from the parish of Libberton. The ecclesiastical affairs of the parish are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Biggar and synod of Lothian and Tweedale. The church in Thankerton has been suffered to fall into ruins and that of Covington has been enlarged for the population of the whole parish, The parochial school is in the village of Covington, and in 1960 the master had a salary of £28, with a house and garden and the fees averaged about £16 per annum.

Covington Village South Lanarkshire -

Of these ancient parishes, which were joined about the beginning of the 18th century, Covington derived its name as shown above. Thankerton got it's name from a Flemish settler Tankard or Thankard, who obtained a grant of lands here during the reign of Malcolm IV

(Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Scotland 1960), (Gazetteer of the British Isles - Bartholemew 9th Edition), (Ordance Survey Sheet Number 72, map ref 39/97), (Scottish Place Names - Their Meaning Explained - A.M.Eyers), (Gazetteer of Scotland)(A Dictionary of Surnames - Patrick Hanks & Flavia Hodges)


A neighbouring tower, built in 1442 by Lindsay of Covington barony, is now a fine ruin; and Covington Mill was the place where that famous martyr of the Covenant, Donald Cargill, was seized by Irving of Bonshaw in May 1681


Excavations and consolidation works at Covington Tower and Doocot, South  Lanarkshire | Biggar Archaeology Group


Set in seven acres, Covington House stands within both traditional and formal gardens, including an 18th-century walled garden with potager, fruit cages and alpine garden. A fernery and heather garden can be found within one of two small areas of broadleaved woodland. Recently, the original glebe lands have been acquired and will be managed as a wildflower meadow, with a delightful, easy meadow walk. Biodiversity is deliberately being allowed to flourish, in part to help the honeybee apiary near the house, but also to encourage moths, bumblebees and butterflies. A spring visit will be rewarded with a fine display of spring bulbs, particularly tulips. Covington, settled as a feudal estate by King David I, has been an important fortified location since at least the 11th century (Covington House, Covington Road, Thankerton, Biggar ML12 6NE, home of Angus and Angela Milner-Brown.

  Covington House

Links to other websites:

Covington & Thankerton Web info

Covington, South Lanarkshire - Wikipedia


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