Long before the days of Thomas Carlyle, Craigenputtock was chosen for conventicles and as a hiding place for the Covenanters (a Scottish Presbyterian movement) in the 17th century when they were under persecution from the reigning Stuart monarchs. A large stone pulpit on a mound in the grounds remains to this day from that time.
In the 17th century the Church of Scotland had to fight for its Presbyterian existence and South-West Scotland was in the fore-front of the battle. People who signed the National Covenant in 1638 became known as the Covenanters. Signing the Covenant confirmed their opposition to interference by the Stuart Kings in the affairs of the Kirk. Ministers who supported the Covenant were forced from their churches and required to leave their parishes which were generally put under the charge of Episcopalian curates.
Many ministers continued to preach secretly in the open air at what were known as Conventicles. Rebels were asked to pledge oaths of loyalty to the king and to accept him as the head of the church. Failure to do so often lead to execution and having your house destroyed.
As a consequence, many households were reduced to extreme poverty. The area around Craigenputtock is scattered with communion stones and hillside graves in memory of these martyrs.
Every year the local Dunscore Parish Church holds a Conventicle at one of the Covenanter locations in the area. There is a short service dedicated to the sacrifice that the Covenanters made to maintain their church independent from the government.