A LIFETIME love of archaeology prompted Susan Hunter to go back to the classroom, decades after she left school.

“I wasn’t clever enough to go to university,” she says, self-deprecatingly.

“At the age of 20, I opened a sports shop and ran it until I retired 48 years later. But I’d never stopped wanting to study archaeology and Egyptology – I have always been fascinated by it.

“So I decided to sign up to a university course in field archaeology, went on to do a degree and here I am….”

In addition to completing her qualifications, Susan and her husband Robin have spent the last 20 years fieldwalking and surveying the farmlands of Eaglesham - a small village near Clarkston on the south side of Glasgow - uncovering fascinating historical facts and personal stories along the way.

She has published a book about her research, and over the next few weeks, is running a series of talks about the cartography, genealogy, archaeology and history of the area at Clarkston Halls.

“It started from a desire to record the land, as it is, and how it had been,” explains Susan, who is from Clarkson.

“So much has been lost already. We began by visiting a couple of the farms, and it just grew from there. There are so many ruined buildings, that no-one is sure what they are, we felt it was important to try and work out where they fitted in to the history of that particular farm.”

The couple have now visited and recorded 56 farms across East Renfrewshire, all the way to its borders with Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

“The farmers and their families have been fantastic, helping us with access and giving us lots of great information,” says Susan.

“I love the old names of places, and how they have changed; and hearing people’s stories is really fascinating.

“We also discovered some interesting historical sites, such as a hut circle, potentially Iron Age or Bronze Age, at one of the farms; and a longhouse in the middle of Eaglesham, at the grassy site called the Orry.”

Librarian Amanda Robb explains: “What Susan has done is unique – she has discovered things no-one else has, and her talks are always incredibly interesting.

“She will be using old maps and documents to show people how she used a range of resources to uncover information.

“Hopefully it will inspire and encourage more people to do it for themselves.”

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All 500 copies of Susan’s book, Eaglesham: The Farmlands and the Orry, which was published by Glasgow Archaeological Society, are almost sold out.

It goes right back to prehistoric times, covering cairns and burial mounds, all the way up to the present day, with sections on early farmsteadings, land divisions and common land, quarries, water-towers, artefacts and more.

The painstaking research carried out by Susan, Robin and their colleagues, means the book is full of fantastic old photographs from private collections and many personal stories.

Walking the fields and woodlands of Eaglesham has not been without its challenges, however.

Susan smiles: “Our friends just laugh at us, when we tell them we are off tramping over the fields in the rain and snow again.

“We go out all year, although we have to avoid the times when cattle are in the fields. Sometimes, we encounter sheep – once, we found one stuck on its back and had to rescue it.”

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She laughs: “We have fallen into ditches, been chased by pigs…it’s never dull.”

Discovering Eaglesham: The Farmlands runs on Thursdays from October 31 to November 14 at Clarkston Halls, from 10am until 12 noon. To book, or for more information, call 0141 577 4956 or visit www.ercultureandleisure.org