In 1912, then an independent burgh with a population of around 100,000, Govan became part of the city of Glasgow. Numerous carved tombstones have been found in Govan Old Churchyard include five hogbacked, carved tombstones,which reflect Viking influence, and an elaborately carved stone coffin known as The Govan Sarcophagus. The stones can be seen inside the Victorian Gothic Revival church (1883-8 by Robert Rowand Anderson).
Over the last 150 years 47 carved stones have been recorded at Govan, of which 31 survive today, all now protected within the church. They date from the 9th to 11th century. They were found within the churchyard which was once surrounded by a bank and ditch. The evidence of excavations indicates that this was an early Christian site going back to the 5th or 6th century AD.
There have been several previous churches here but only traces of the foundations seem to remain from the medieval church which was demolished in 1762. However, beneath these foundations archaeologists found signs of still earlier burials. Nearby, though it has now been levelled, was a mound known as the Doomster Hill, probably used as a ceremonial gathering place. It indicates the importance of Govan in the early medieval period. It has been suggested that this could have been a royal graveyard associated with the kingdom of Strathclyde the centre of which was at Dumbarton.
It is located in the historic community of Govan – believed to have been the administrative and ecclesiastical centre of the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde . Govan , originally an agricultural and fishing village, grew during the industrial revolution, through the development first of weaving then light engineering, to become, in the early 20th century, a world leader in the ship-building industry. Following the economic depression, and the decline of Scotland ’s heavy industry, the face of Govan has changed significantly.
The carved hogback stones were created around the 10th century to cover the graves of prominent men or women in the important British settlement in the Govan and Partick area. In 2004 the five surviving hogbacks are held in the church and can be viewed by visitors.
The most ornate carving of a horseman, animals and interlace patterns, is on the sandstone tomb known as The Govan Sarcophagus and associated (though it cannot be proved) with the original dedicatee of the church, St Constantine who may have been the Scottish king Constantine, son of Kenneth, who ruled from 862-878. It is the only sarcophagus carved from solid stone known from pre-Norman north Britain.
There are also individual carved crosses and cross slabs. The most remarkable monuments are five hogback gravestones, carved with roof tiles and with stylised animal end pieces. These date from the mid to late 10th century and are the largest group known anywhere in Britain. They are all associated with areas of strong Viking influence, probably through trade and perhaps settlement along the Clyde.
They are noted for their decorative carvings which show Pictish, Northumbrian, Cumbrian, Gaelic and Norse influences. Together with five curious hogback stones in the Church, they indicate that the site was once a major cultural centre. The hogbacks are 10th Century tombstones carved in the shape of a longhouse. Intricate animal carvings adorn many of the end gables. These unique stones evolved in a number of Gaelic-Norse settlement areas of the British Isles, revealing a fusion of the Norse and Gaelic carving style and cultures and a shared reverence for the natural world.
The sculptured stones of Govan are through to date from the 9th - 11th centuries and so pre-date Glasgow Cathedral. The collection consists of 31 sculpted stones: 5 'hogback' grave markers, 4 'high' crosses, 21 recumbant slabs and a monolithic sarcophagus decorated with crosses and interlace patterns. Govan Old Parish Church was a parish church in the Church of Scotland, serving Govan in Glasgow. It was also known as "St Constantine's". Since 2007, the congregation has become part of Govan and Linthouse Parish. Govan Old Church is no longer used for regular Sunday services, but the building remains open and is used for occasional services, including midweek services. The dedication is to Saint Constantine of Strathclyde whose shrine at Govan is still in existence.
This simple war memorial takes the form of an octagonal (eight-sided) pillar topped with an obelisk. Standing on top of the obelisk is a unicorn with a shield.
This memorial was erected after the First World War. Govan became part of Glasgow in 1912, but Govan erected its own war memorial to remember the men of the burgh who died in the Great War.
Govan remembers WW1 fallen
A service of Remembrance has been held in Govan to mark the centenary of the First World War. This text is taken from First world war Glasgow Govan Website
The community of Govan and Glasgow City Council came together to remember the fallen of the First World War in a special commemorative service and community event held as part of the council's Heritage Lottery Funded project "Their Name Liveth For Evermore". Members of the armed services, veterans and local cadets all attended, as did several of the Glasgow City Council Govan Councillors.
Pipers from Pirie Park and St Saviours primary schools were led by Iain Watson and played outside Govan Old Parish Church prior to the service. Paul Cathcart led the commemorations in the absence, through illness, of the Reverend Moyna McGlynn and representatives from across the Govan community of churches and groups contributed.
Inside Govan Old Parish Church
When you visit the Old Govan Church you will discover a quite unique collection of early medieval stones which were carved in the 9th to the 11th centuries. They were to commemorate the power of those who ruled the Kingdom of Strathclyde.
There are 31 monuments dating from this period which also include beautifully carved crosses and cross shafts. There are five hogback stones examine the intricate interlace carving and warrior figures on the collection. The Govan Sarcophagus, (the only one of its kind ) was carved from a solid stone block from Pre-Norman Northern Britain.
The Five Govan Hog-Back Stones inside Govan Parish Church
The Sarcophagus was hewn from a solid block of stone then decorated with the outer carvings.
A closer view of the Hog-Backed Stones
In around AD500 and according to tradition, the Christian missionary called St. Constantine, arrives in Govan and he builds a small wooden Church next to a sacred well. The well was in the shadow of the Ceremonial Hill. They buried the first Christian Govanites in the heart shaped burial ground which resembles and now surrounds the Old Govan Church.
The people of Govan and the Clyde Valley in these early times are called 'Britons'. They are quite a bit different from their neighbours, the Scots and the Picts and they speak their own language. The name Govan to them meant 'little hill'. Although some would say that the name Govan comes from the Scottish Gaelic: Baile a' Ghobhainn. During the Viking Age, perhaps following the sack of Dumbarton Rock in 878, Govan is believed to have been one of the major centres of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. According to John of Fordun, Constantine, a 7th century King of Strathclyde, who founded a monastery at Govan, where he died and was buried. In 1855, an elaborately carved sandstone sarcophagus was found during digging in the churchyard.
The Viking-Age treasures
A unique collection of Viking-age monuments, which lay unloved in a Govan churchyard for 1,000 years, has attracted the attention of the British Museum.
Its curator said the Govan Stones was one of the best collections of early medieval sculpture anywhere in the British isles. In AD 878, Vikings, who had been based in Dublin, destroyed Dumbarton at the mouth of the Clyde, which had been a major power centre in the centuries after the Romans departed from Britain.
As a result Govan, further up the river, took on a crucial role in the new kingdom of warrior chieftains that emerged to resist the Vikings. It is thought that the church at Govan may have been the main one for the kingdom of Strathclyde. Click a stone to read more.
Here in Govan several intriguing stone sculptures were discovered in the graveyard of Govan Old Parish Church. No less than 30 of these large, intricately carved gravestones are in two distinct styles.
So who was buried here, by whom, and why. This episode was filmed from the 14th to the 16th of June 1996. In the episode the team try to find out why the graveyard of a 19th century church features large tortoise-shaped gravestones (Hogback stones) dating back to the Dark Ages. The team are joined by Scottish prehistorian Anna Ritchie and archaeologist Steve Driscoll.
This is an extract from WIKIPEDIA.ORG and you can read and see more here at: WIKIPEDIA.ORG
The earliest references to Govan are found in connection with the Christian church. In 1136, when Glasgow Cathedral was formally consecrated, King David I (1124–53) gave to the See the lands of Partick and also of the church at Govan (on opposite sides of the River Clyde), which became a prebend of Glasgow. The Govan Old Parish Church was rebuilt in 1762, 1826, and again 1884-1888. Within it and its roughly circular churchyard is one of the finest collections of Early Christian stones in the United Kingdom, dating from the 10th and 11th centuries.