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Houston and Kilallan Parish

Image abover: Detail of John Ainslie’s Map of the County of Renfrew [surveyed, 1796, published, 1800] showing a thorn tree, possibly a trysting thorn. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Barochan House, in this parish, was visited in the spring of 1891, without any particular feature of interest being noted except what attaches to the house itself, over which the party were shown by Mrs. Renshaw. On the same visit old Kilallan Church was also inspected. Little of the church now remains except the walls to the height of 8 to 10 feet, and they are largely obscured by a most luxuriant growth of the ivy-green. In the outer wall a curious stone called St. Fillan’s Stone received a large share of attention, as did also a natural depression in the rock by the roadside in this vicinage, called St. Fillan’s Chair, from which tradition declares the saint to have preached.

Barochan Cross, as illustrated in the frontispiece to this volume, arrested the party with conjectures as to the details of the design, which are slowly but surely giving way to atmospheric action. The cross in the time of Crawfurd, the historian of the county (as quoted by Motherwell), stood ‘a few score yards south from’ Barochan Mill, and at a later date (about a century since) the writer of the old statistical account of the parish says that it was ‘lately removed . . . to a neighbouring hill, where the old mansion house of Barochan formerly stood’. Both sides of the cross have been elaborately carved, and the workmanship must have been excellent and the material well chosen, to admit of the present comparative sharpness of outline of some of the figures. Nothing of its history is known. Locally it is called a Danish cross, and Motherwell the poet had no difficulty in convincing himself that it should be considered commemorative of the defeat Of Sumerled, Lord of the Isles, when he made his descent upon Renfrew in 1164.