Early Christian Settlements

Ever since the Stone Ages, the banks of the River Clyde have seen fishing and religious settlements grow and develop.

St. Kentigern, also known as St. Mungo, settled in Glasgow in the sixth century and the city traces its origins back to this time. Traditionally, he helped to start the Christian church in Glasgow.

By the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Glasgow was an established baronetcy and religious centre. With the founding of the University of Glasgow at the end of the fifteenth century, the city grew in religious importance, second only to St Andrews. After the Reformation, with the removal of the Roman Catholic Church's authority, Glasgow's importance as a centre for International trade began to take the place of the church.

Govan and Doomster Hill

Near to Glasgow was an even greater centre for religion. In ancient times Govan was the ritual gathering place of the Strathclyde kingdom. Their fortress at Dumbarton gave a natural authority to the area. The focal point of Doomster Hill, no longer in existence, is believed to have been a gathering place or burial ground.

Govan Old Parish Church is the place to visit if you are interested in the Christian history of the area. This was the leading religious centre of the area since the early ninth century, if not well before that. The current building is a Victorian church but housed inside you'll find  a collection of about 31 early Christian stones. These are a mix of Cumbrian, British, Scottish, Pictish, Irish, Saxon and Scandinavian art, demonstrating the wide-ranging influence of this religious centre.

The stones at Govan Old include the Govan Sarcophagus, which is believed to be St. Constantine's own coffin. After King David changed the saint patronage to St. Kentigern in Glasgow during the twelfth century, Govan's centrality began to wane. Recently, there have been efforts to restore the area to its former significance. Current regeneration activity focuses on Govan Cross, the vibrant heart of the Govan community through its history.

More on the history of the River Clyde (Back to listing)