A ruined castle with a bloody history could be at the centre of a housing development

The castle in South Lanarkshire will be the developments main focus

Gilbertfield Castle will be the centre of the housing development

Gilbertfield Castle, near Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, dates from the early 1600s and has been the site of bloodshed and delinquency since then.

A gamekeeper was shot dead by a blacksmith at the site, and teenage vandals set about destroying some of the stone turrets.

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But hopes are high the castle, which is not accessible to the public, could be turned into a visitor attraction as part of a new housing development, with a 'boulevard' of 15 houses leading up to it.

Designers at CD Architects said they wanted to safeguard Gilbertfield for "future generations" while creating a major "focal point" beside a nearby housing development.

Practice director Grant Johnston said: "Something has to happen with [the castle] given the current state it's in.

"The community will hopefully then be able to engage with it and get involved with its long-term legacy.

"Sadly for the public, it's not accessible at the moment, but these proposals change this.

"From our point of view, it was a unique opportunity to get involved and assist the current family owners to safeguard a piece of local history for future generations that was very important to them.

"Our proposals use the castle as the main focal point of our proposed development, where we have created a boulevard of 15 houses leading to the castle that frames the castle's north elevation.

"This proposal re-engages the castle with its surroundings and, more importantly, allows the public the opportunity to visit and view the castle up close."

Gilbertfield, which once formed part of the barony of Drumsargard, was bought in 1591 by Sir John Cunningham of Easter Moffat.

He built an imposing residence at the foot of Dechmont Hill's northern slope, carving the date 1607 above one of the windows on the eastern wall.

But the building deteriorated after the estate was sold in 1826.

By the middle of the 19th century, it had become dilapidated, but was inhabited by gamekeeper Joseph Kirby.

In 1850, Mr Kirby was shot and killed on the lands by Andrew Forrest, a young blacksmith from Glasgow who was put on trial for murder.

Forrest claimed he was set upon by a dog Mr Kirby had trained to attack trespassers and insisted he had intended to shoot the dog, not the gamekeeper.

Forrest walked free from court after a jury returned a 'not proven' verdict.

And in 1916, four men from the Cambuslang area were charged with having maliciously destroyed and pulled down its south bastion.

In their defence the accused claimed to have spotted a stone sticking out from the building's turret, and said they thought it was a hazard - so removed the object with a rope, pulling down a mass of other material with it.

The vandals were each fined £1.

But architect Mr Johnston said highlighting Gilbertfield's rich past would be a key element within the project.

He said: "As well as restoring it as a monument to safeguard it for future generations, we have proposed information boards around grounds of the castle and conveying its history.

"This is important because there are lots of people in the Cambuslang/ Gilbertfield area who recall it from their childhood, or playing in the surrounding fields."

Mr Johnston also said extensive work would be required to stabilise the existing stonework.

He added: "There are large cracks in certain gables that need attention sooner rather than later.

"Proposed works include stone repair, mortar reinstatement, tidying up of debris within the monument area itself and, as previously mentioned, installation of new interpretation boards for visitors within the castle's grounds.

"The main aspect of our proposal is about making the castle accessible again to the public so they can walk freely up to it and engage with it.

"Pre-application discussions with South Lanarkshire Council have gone very well so far and we're hopeful of a positive outcome although it's not guaranteed.

"Once the structure is stabilised, we can look at being creative in the future in terms of perhaps community events held at the castle grounds and so on."

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