Lanark is a small town in the central belt of Scotland, and was the former county town of Lanarkshire. It has a long history, old traditions, and many fine parks and buildings. To this noder it also holds many happy memories of childhood and adolescence.
Historically, Lanark has been an important market town since medieval times, and King David I made it a Royal Burgh in 1140, giving it certain mercantile privileges relating to government and taxation.
This historic background is the basis for the Lanimer celebrations, which take place each year for one week in June. A Lanimer Queen and court is elected from local schoolchildren, and a Lord Cornet is chosen from local businessmen. On the Monday night, the Riding of the Marches takes place, where the whole town turns out to walk or ride around the town, inspecting the border-stones. On the Thursday morning, schools and other organisations parade before the Lanimer Queen in fancy dress, accompanied by pipe bands. Prizes are awarded to the best floats, and after the parade, the crowning of the Queen takes place. The Queen holds a reception party on the Thursday and Friday nights, where the children perform songs and dances, and are rewarded by a disco at the end of the night.
Lanark’s local hero is William Wallace, the hero of the Braveheart film, who “first drew sword to free his native land” in Lanark in 1297, when he killed the English sheriff Haselrig. A statue of Wallace stands on the town’s St Nicholas Church at the foot of the High Street, and a plaque commemorates his exploits. A pub also bears the name of the “Wallace Cave”.
Lanark is also home to the rallying family of Jimmy and Colin McRae.
One of the other churches in the town is named after St Kentigern, perhaps better known as St Mungo, who set up many medieval churches in lowland Scotland, including Glasgow, and died in c 612 AD. The town’s cemetery stands on the site of the old St Kentigern’s kirk, and includes many Covenanter graves.
Visitors to the town would do well to visit the nearby model village of New Lanark, close to the spectacular Falls of Clyde, and Corehouse Nature Reserve. Lanark Loch is a large boating lake situated beside a golf course and racecourse, the latter offering pony trekking activities. The town’s Castlebank Park is located near the former site of Lanark Castle, and allows access to the River Clyde.
If you're in southern or central Scotland some time, then, you could do worse than explore this small town with much to offer.