We are a fellowship of Christian believers based in the central belt. The location of our Church building is widely known across Scotland, mainly due to its proximity to the M8. We have around 175 people in membership and most come from our parish, which covers the village of Salsburgh and the largely rural areas surrounding it. However, we also have a number of regular attendees who come from Shotts, Harthill, Cleland, etc. Our mission statement is "We want to see Jesus lifted high!". All are welcome at our services and events.
THE HISTORY OF KIRK O' SHOTTS
Close on five hundred and fifty years ago Bothwell and Shotts formed one Parish which stretched from the Clyde to Linlithgowshire, and from the North to the South Calder. In this large area there were four places of worship, one of which was situated in the middle Bothwellmuir at “a desert place called Bertram-Shotts”. Bertram was reputed to be a Giant who lived in the area and terrorised travellers on the Glasgow/Edinburgh road.
A reward was offered for his capture - dead or alive - and was claimed by William Muirhead who lay in wait for Bertram when the latter came to his favourite drinking place - a spring of water on the hillside above Shottsburn. He hamstrung him and, as the giant lay laughing up at him, he cut off his head with the words,
“Will ye laugh-up yet?”
It was on Bertram's plot of land that St. Catherine’s Chapel was built in 1450. It was dedicated to “the blessed Virgin and Catherine of Sienna”.
Many have wondered what connection St. Catherine could possibly have with the area. In 1457 the parish of Shotts was detached from Bothwell barony and the eastern half was given to Lord Hamilton, who re-founded and probably rededicated the Chapel, also founding a hospital at the same place for the reception of the poor, which he endowed with some lands from Kinneal. His foundation was confirmed by a Bull of Pope Sixtus IV, on 30th April 1476 - St. Catherine’s Feast Day. Hence possibly the reason for the name.
CHANGES AT THE CHAPEL
After the Reformation of 1560, Kirk o’Shotts became a Protestant place of worship. The old church of St Catherine’s must have suffered many changes and required frequent changes since its foundation, but of these there is no account before 1640. In that year the Presbytery met at Shotts and ordered that the church be repaired and partly rebuilt, but it was more than eight years before the work was completed.
The site of the old church is marked by the headstone erected to Samuel Meuros, who was session clerk and school master from 1794 to 1837. He was also Precentor, and it was his wish to be buried where his old desk had stood; thus he lies - still at his post! On the back of the stone is the following inscription:
“Here stood the Precentor’s desk in the Kirk of Bertram Shotts which was rebuilt and extended in 1642” .
This stone and the burial ground of the Inglis’s of Murdoston, which was inside the old church, give us a clear idea of the site.
The old church was a long, narrow building about 70 feet in length, 25 feet in breadth, with 16 feet at the east end, designated the ‘quire’. The pulpit and desk stood on the south side, and fronting the pulpit was the common loft, and in the east end Murdoston’s loft, and at the west end Gartness loft. In the year 1817, the old church having become unsafe and having a seating capacity for only 409 worshippers, it was decided that a larger church with a seating capacity for approximately 1,200 should be built.
A NEW BUILDING
The present Church building was opened on 26th October 1821, the cost £2,270! The spire of the Church was struck by lightning and completely destroyed on 23rd July, 1876. The only material link we have with the old church is the old sandstone baptismal font. It was lost for a number of years, found in a pigsty, where it was being used as a feeding trough, cleaned and rededicated. It is still used for baptisms today.
From 1841 the population of the parish rapidly increased and, with this increase, there was a demand for more churches. The following were opened:
Calderhead Church in 1860 , Harthill and Benhar in 1877 , Cleland Church in 1878 , Caldercruix in 1893.
THE SHOTTS REVIVAL
On Monday 21st June 1630, the celebrated Revival took place. It had been arranged that the Reverend John Livingstone, then a probationer, should preach in th kirkyard that morning after the Communion weekend. He preached on the text, Ezekiel 36:25-26. His sermon, which lasted for two and a half hours, was much used by God and changed the hearts of 500 people that morning. He preached for many years after that, but he said that he never again witnessed such a melting of hearts as he did that day in Shotts lonely kirkyard.
From the signing of the National Covenant in 1638 to the Revolution in 1688, the struggle between Presbyterianism and the Episcopacy went on till it reached its height in the killing times - 1684-1685. Shotts and the adjoining parishes of Monkland and Cambusnethan were strong supporters of the Covenant, and many coventicles were held within their bounds. The principal place for field preachings in the parish of Shotts was on a large moss between Benhar and Starryshaw. It was here at a place once known as the ‘Deer Slunk’, that Donald Cargill preached on the Sunday after Richard Cameron’s death - 26th July 1681. John Kidd also preached here to a large, armed, coventicle. Nearby is the large whinstone boulder which has been known since the time of the martyred Alexander Peden as ‘Peden’s Stane’.
We have our own Covenanter's stone in the kirk yard to a certain William Smith, who fought at Rullion Green in the Pentlands in the year 1666. In 1678, the Duke of Monmouth, with an army of 10,000 men, camped for ten days at Muirhead, about three miles east of Kirk o’Shotts. They were on their way by the old bridle road, to Bothwell Bridge where they defeated the Covenanters. It is reckoned that 160 Shotts men took part in the battle, 13 were killed and 33 taken prisoner.
THE PATRONAGE ACT
The Patronage Act of 1712, which transferred the right of electing ministers from congregations to the patron caused a great deal of trouble in the Parish. There were at least two forced settlements - the better known that of Rev. Lawrence Wells. The settlement of Mr. Wells was so unpopular that a number left the church and joined the Seceders who in time built a church at Shottsburn. It was not till 1975 that this group returned to the fold by returning to Kirk o’ Shotts.