The small village of Braehead stands on the B7016 from Forth to Carnwath, a little over six miles north-east of Lanark. Braehead is a common name in Scotland, usually applied to villages in raised locations, and this Braehead is one of three in South Lanarkshire (and there are two more in North Lanarkshire).
The setting of the village looks fairly unspectacular on the map, but turns out to be very impressive. It stands near the end of a ridge which is defined by the valley of the Mouse Water to the west and north-west; and the valley of one if its tributaries, the Dippool Water, to the south-east. The result is wide views north to the village of Forth and the Black Law Windfarm, while to the south the panorama is even more extensive.
Braehead itself forms a T-plan, with the top of the "T" formed by Carnwath Road, the main road through the village. The leg of the "T" is formed by Main Street, which extends south-west from its junction with Carnwath Road past cottages, houses and a church converted for residential use. Most of the village's services are on Carnwath Road, including the village school and hall plus the Last Shift Inn, an attractive looking village pub.
The first obvious evidence of settlement in the immediate area is in the form of the partial remains of a tower house at Eastshield, half a mile south of the village. The tower was built by the Inglis family in the 1500s and seems to have been in use for several centuries. All that now remains is a circular tower once presumably forming a stair turret. The upper part of this has been converted into a doocot. Today the castle remains are inaccessibly located within a farmstead, and it seems that stone from the rest of the structure was reused when the farmstead was built. There is evidence of this in the form of a reused door lintel carved with the date of 1567 and the name of Thomas Inglis.
Although it is difficult to believe from the village's rural setting today, it once stood at the heart of a heavily industrialised landscape. If you look closely it is possible to see that the surrounding area is pock-marked with traces of a dozen or more quarries, which at various times were home to well over a hundred clamp kilns. Some of the quarries were created in search of rock, but most were dug in the 1700s for the extraction of lime, in increasing use at the time to improve the quality of agricultural land.
Once the limestone was extracted, it needed to be be calcined by being burnt in kilns. The clamp kilns used around Braehead were usually temporary structures cut into the ground in which alternating layers of limestone and poor quality coal were built up and topped off with turf. A burn of several days produced usable lime.