hidden europe 3

A Clyde connection

by Nicky Gardner


mediaeval sculptures in a Glasgow church that attest to the importance of early Scandinavian settlers in Scotland

The River Clyde is the very essence of Glasgow, and yet nowadays many of the Scottish city's riverfront communities have become real backwaters. Who now visits Whiteinch? How many strangers to Glasgow know that it is still possible to cross the Clyde on the little passenger ferry from Renfrew to Yoker? Names like Clydebank and Govan which once struck resonances worldwide on account of their shipbuilding have receded from the public imagination. Govan is one of Glasgow's most historic working-class communities, and, though its rich industrial past may now be a matter of history, today it still warrants a visit. For, its fine ochre sandstone tenements apart, Govan has a group of monuments that are truly unique, not just in Scotland but throughout Europe.

For Govan's remarkable old Parish Church, called Govan Old by the locals, is home to an outstanding collection of early mediaeval stone sculptures. This improbable assemblage of sculpted memories in stone includes five hogbacks, truly evidence of the Clyde valley's multi-ethnic past.

Do a 'google' search on 'hogbacks' and you'll find a feast of geological curiosities, but the Govan hogbacks are something quite different.

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