A Travellerspoint blog

Elegant Edinburgh

Four Days in the Capital of Scotland.

overcast

Although I am from the west of Scotland, this time I decided to stay in the east. We used Edinburgh as a base, mainly to travel to other places from, but we did also devote one day to wandering around the city itself.

To get to Edinburgh we travelled first class on Virgin trains from Crewe. We would not normally pay for first class train travel, but had received these tickets free after complaining to Virgin about a rail journey we made last summer. The train trip there was very enjoyable with plenty of food and free alcoholic drinks.

Snow covered hills on our journey to Edinburgh.

Snow covered hills on our journey to Edinburgh.

When we arrived in Edinburgh, we checked into the Adagio Apart Hotel on the Royal Mile. Adagios are part of the Accor group. There is one in Edinburgh, one in Birmingham and one in Liverpool. Two are being built in London. Our room included cooking facilities, two rings and an oven, a fridge a dish-washer and almost all the kitchenware you could think of. Coin operated washing machines and dryers are available at these hotels, too. On a short stay no-one cleans your room, so you have perfect privacy. I love Adagios. We have stayed in the Birmingham one, too.

Our room in the Adagio.

Our room in the Adagio.

After arriving in Edinburgh, we had to travel across to Glasgow to meet up with my sister, her husband and one of their daughters as it was the only time we could see them. We had dinner together, then went to a karaoke. We were really tired from all the travelling by the time we got back home.

Next day the weather was pouring. We got up late, went in search of provisions and in the evening met up with friends for an excellent meal in Holyrood 9A, a lovely restaurant on Holyrood Road, not far from the Royal Mile.

The following day involved being away from Edinburgh all day as we travelled across to Clydebank to spend the day with my dad.

The day after that we devoted to looking at Linlithgow and Edinburgh. Edinburgh's centre consists of an old town and a new town separated by the picturesque Princes Street Gardens. We have been to Edinburgh many times . This time we just concentrated on looking around the old town as we were based there.

Our hotel was close to the lower end of the royal Mile, not too far from the Palace of Holyrood House, but we began by going the other way up towards the castle.

On route we passed The World's End Pub. This famous pub takes its name from the fact it was once the last building before the city walls of Edinburgh, so it was the world's end for those within the city's walls. The city walls were only built around 1513 after Scotland's defeat and the death of King James IV at the Battle of Flodden. The purpose of the walls was to protect the people of Edinburgh from further attacks by the English. In 1977 two teenage girls disappeared after drinking in this pub. This pub was the last place they were seen alive - this tragic event is referred to as the world's end murders. It is often referred to in the books of Ian Rankin.

The World's End Pub.

The World's End Pub.

After that we walked passed John Knox's House which is now home to the Scottish Storytelling Centre. John Knox House dates back to 1470. It is called John Knox's House although it seems likely he only stayed in this house for a short time just before his death in 1572 and he, in fact, lived in a different house nearby. This house was definitely home to James Mosman. Mosman was a Catholic jeweller and goldsmith, completely loyal to Mary, Queen of Scots. He was part of the ‘Queen’s Men’ who seized Edinburgh Castle in an attempt to restore Mary to the throne after she had been forced to abdicate. Mosman was hung, drawn and quartered in 1573. Although it seems sad that the house is called after someone who had little to do with it and that its real owner was totally opposed to Knox's reforms, it is the house's association with John Knox that saved it from demolition.

John Knox House.

John Knox House.

Moving on we came to the Tron Kirk. King Charles I ordered this church to be built in 1636. The church was designed by John Mylne, and was completed in 1647. It is called the Tron Kirk because it was located near a tron or merchant's weighing beam. On November 16th 1824, the steeple of the Tron Kirk caught fire and the fire spread around Edinburgh's old town, killing ten people and destroying many homes. Before this fire there were no municipal fire departments, but in 1824 the people of Edinburgh organised the first municipal fire brigade in the world. It was led by James Braidwood. His statue is mounted in Parliament Square, just behind Mercat Cross. Following the fire, the Tron Kirk's steeple was rebuilt in stone. The church is now a Scottish market specializing in Scottish arts and crafts.

The Tron Kirk.

The Tron Kirk.

James Braidwood.

James Braidwood.

Next we had a look at Mercat Cross topped by a unicorn - the national animal of Scotland. This area was once home to a market, was an area where proclamations were made, for example on the 18th of September 1745, the "Young Pretender" Charles Edward Stuart had his father proclaimed King James VIII of Scotland here. When he was later defeated at the Battle of Culloden, the Jacobite colours were burnt here. Punishments and executions were also carried out at the cross. For example, James Mosman was hung here in 1573.

Mercat Cross.

Mercat Cross.

Not far from the Mercat Cross stands St Giles Cathedral. St Giles' Cathedral is the most important Church of Scotland church in Edinburgh. It has a distinctive stone crown steeple like St Michael's Church in Linlithgow. The present church dates from the late fourteenth century, though it underwent major restorations in the nineteenth century. St Giles' Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Giles, who is the patron saint of Edinburgh, cripples and lepers.

The fiery Protestant reformer John Knox became minister at St Giles in 1559. There is a statue of him inside the cathedral and he is also depicted on one of the church's stain glass windows. John Knox was buried in the kirkyard of St Giles, which is sadly now a car park, on the 24th of November 1572. The Regent Morton spoke these words at his graveside "There lies one who neither feared nor flattered any flesh".

St Giles' is famous as the site where a riot broke out on Sunday the 23rd of July 1637. King Charles I wanted to impose Anglican services on the Church of Scotland, as a result the Dean of Edinburgh, James Hannay, delivered a sermon using the Book of Common Prayer in St Giles Cathedral on this day. A market-seller Jenny Geddes reacted by throwing her stool at the Dean's head. Rioting followed and the riots eventually led to the secret signing of the National Covenant and the beginning of the Covenanters.

St Giles' Cathedral.

St Giles' Cathedral.

St Giles' Cathedral.

St Giles' Cathedral.

Near the cathedral there is a heart mosaic on the street known as the Heart of Midlothian. This marks the site of the old Tollbooth and Prison. As the prison was greatly hated, it is customary to spit on this site.

The Heart of Midlothian.

The Heart of Midlothian.

Next we passed Deacon Brodie's Tavern. This is called after William Brodie, also known as Deacon Brodie. He is famous for having led a double life. He was born in September 1741 and worked as a very respectable cabinet-maker, deacon of a trades guild, and Edinburgh city councillor. However, by night he was a burglar who robbed the wealthiest Edinburgh homes. He was also a compulsive gambler and had two secret families by his mistresses. Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have based his story 'The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde' on him. Deacon Brodie's secret life was eventually discovered and he was hanged as a thief in 1788 on the very gallows he had himself made.

Deacon Brodie's Tavern.

Deacon Brodie's Tavern.

Deacon Brodie's Tavern.

Deacon Brodie's Tavern.

We wandered on past The Hub which was built as a Church of Scotland Assembly Hall and Church and is now a festival venue and cafe.

The Hub.

The Hub.

Leaving the Tron, we walked on towards the castle. In front of the castle stands the castle esplanade which hosts the Edinburgh Tattoo each year. From the esplanade there are great views over Edinburgh. On one side these views are over Princes Street Gardens. Also on the esplanade is located the grave of Ensign Ewart, famous for capturing a regimental eagle at the Battle of Waterloo. There is also a statue to commemorate the Duke of York, who, although he never visited Edinburgh, is one of the princes after whom Princes Street is named, and the Witches Wall where poor, unpopular women were burnt at the stake in the sixteenth century. There are many other statues and memorials here.

View from the esplanade.

View from the esplanade.

View over Princes Street Gardens.

View over Princes Street Gardens.

The Duke of York and Ensign Ewart.

The Duke of York and Ensign Ewart.

I have been to Edinburgh Castle many times when I was a child, but have not been there recently. Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of Edinburgh. It is located on a volcanic plug known as Castle Rock. There has been a royal castle here since the reign of King David I in the twelfth century, maybe even earlier. The castle was used as a royal residence until 1633. Then in the latter part of the seventeenth century it was used as a military barracks. During its history the castle has endured a horrendous twenty-six sieges making it "the most besieged place in Great Britain." The oldest building in the castle is St Margaret's Chapel, called after Malcolm Canmore's wife, Margaret, Scotland's only saint. This chapel dates from the early twelfth century. The Scottish crown jewels are displayed in Edinburgh Castle and it is home to the national war museum.

Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Castle.

Leaving the castle, we walked down some steep steps to the Grassmarket. This wide open square used to be the market place. Historically it was used for the sale of grass and for the sale of horses. It was lined with inns and hostelries where market traders could stay overnight or eat and drink. It is still lined with restaurants and bars today. The Grassmarket was also a place where public executions were commonly carried out. More than one hundred Covenanters died on the gallows here between 1661 and 1688. Some pubs' names here recall these times for example The Last Drop Inn and Maggie Dickson's. This pub commemorates Margaret Dickson, also known as half-hangit Maggie, a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in the Grassmarket in 1724 for allegedly murdering her illegitimate baby. After being cut down, she revived on the cart on her way to be buried and was set free. From the Grassmarket we walked up steep and pretty Victoria Street.

Grassmarket.

Grassmarket.

Near Victoria Street.

Near Victoria Street.

Victoria Street.

Victoria Street.

We then headed to Greyfriars Kirk. Outside the kirk stands a statue of Greyfriars Bobby. Bobby was a Skye terrier owned by nightwatchman John Gray, also known as Auld Jock. When Auld Jock died, Bobby would not leave his grave and visited it every day for the next fourteen years until he also died. Bobby is buried in the kirkyard, not far from his master. There's a pub called Greyfriar's Bobby near the entrance to the kirkyard.

Grefriar's Bobby.

Grefriar's Bobby.

Grefriar's Kirkyard is supposedly one of the most haunted places in the U.K. It has certainly had a bloody history. In 1638 a group of people signed a covenant in favour of Presbyterianism and against the meddling of King Charles I in their religion. The covenant was signed in Greyfriar's Kirkyard. These people became known as the covenanters. Later when the Covenanters were defeated by the forces of Oliver Cromwell, many were imprisoned next to Greyfriar's Kirkyard. The conditions in their prison were so bad hundreds died here. One of the people who persecuted the Covenanters was Sir George MacKenzie, later nicknamed 'Bluidy MacKenzie' for his ruthlessness. Sir George is buried in Greyfriar's Kirkyard and in 2014 two local teenagers desecrated his grave and used his skull to play a game of football. Since then Sir George's violent poltergeist has haunted the cemetery at night. Some graves in Greyfriar's are covered with metal cages. This was to stop notorious bodysnatchers such as Burke and Hare from stealing bodies for scientific research. On a lighter note J.K. Rowling began her Harry Potter books in The Elephant House Cafe near Greyfriar's Kirkyard. She often strolled through the kirkyard and admits she may have got her idea for Tom Riddell, also known as Voldermort ,from one of the gravestones here.

Greyfriar's Kirk.

Greyfriar's Kirk.

In the kirkyard, graves protected from bodysnatchers..

In the kirkyard, graves protected from bodysnatchers..

BluidyMacKenzie's dome topped grave.

BluidyMacKenzie's dome topped grave.

Greyfriars was scary enough to drive us to drink so we went to one of our favourite Edinburgh pubs, the tiny Halfway House before retiring for the night.

The Halfway House.

The Halfway House.

Next morning was our last morning in Edinburgh and it was raining, but despite that I took a quick stroll down to the Palace of Holyrood just to complete the whole Royal Mile. The first sight on route was the Canongate Tolbooth. Canongate used to be a separate burgh before it became part of Edinburgh in 1856. CVanongate Tolbooth was built in 1591 by Sir Lewis Bellenden, Baron of Broughton. It was originally used as a courthouse, jail and meeting place for the town council. It is now used as The People's Story Museum.

Canongate Tolbooth.

Canongate Tolbooth.

Canongate also had its own kirk - the rather pretty Canongate Kirk and its own kirkyard. The kirk was completed in 1691 by master mason, James Smith. The kirkyard is the final resting place of famous Scottish economist Adam Smith; Agnes Maclehose - the inspiration for Robert Burns' poem 'Ae Fond Kiss' and David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was stabbed to death by her jealous husband. The poet Robert Fergusson, is also buried here and a bronze statue of him created by David Annand stands outside the kirk gate.

Canongate Kirk.

Canongate Kirk.

Further down the Royal Mile, on the other side of the road, stands the Scottish Parliament. It opened in 2004. It is quite a controversial building as it is extremely modern and not in keeping with the style of the buildings all around it. Although it is not a very popular building, I quite like it. In particular, I like the quotations which decorate its outer walls.

Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Parliament.

At the very bottom of The Royal Mile stands the Palace of Holyrood House. This is the official residence of the Monarchy in Scotland. The palace was founded as a monastery in 1128. In the sixteenth century Mary Queen of Scots lived here. Her jealous husband murdered her private secretary Rizzio in the building next to her bed chamber.

Palace of Holyrood House.

Palace of Holyrood House.

Palace of Holyrood House.

Palace of Holyrood House.

Behind Holyrood Palace stands Arthur's Seat. The hilly remains of a dormant volcano - a nice place for a stroll.

Arthur's Seat.

Arthur's Seat.

As we headed off to the station to catch our train out of Edinburgh, we had a good view towards Calton Hill - another of Edinburgh's monumental cemeteries.

Calton Hill.

Calton Hill.

Posted by irenevt 21:53 Archived in Scotland Tagged castles cathedrals scotland edinburgh history palaces Comments (4)

At the Cradle of Mary Queen of Scots.

A Day in Linlithgow.

sunny

I've no idea why it has taken me so long to finally go to Linlithgow. It is very easy to reach by train as it is on the main Glasgow/Edinburgh line. I've certainly heard of it as I have known since I was in primary school that Mary Queen of Scots was born in Linlithgow Palace, but somehow I have just never got around to visiting. Now I am very glad that I finally did.

Linlithgow means 'The Loch in the Damp Hollow'. The town has a beautiful loch, a fascinating historic palace, a lovely old church and an interesting old borough hall and well. I travelled to Linlithgow for the day from Edinburgh. It was spring time and there were some pretty spring flowers as we walked from the station to the centre of town. This was one of the few days of our holiday on which the sun actually shone. However, despite this, it was incredibly cold due to an ice-cold wind blowing across Linlithgow Loch. Linlithgow's High Street is lined with some pretty old buildings, shops and pubs.

Spring Flowers.

Spring Flowers.

Linlithgow High Street.

Linlithgow High Street.

At Linlithgow Cross stands Linlithgow Borough Halls which date from 1670. In front of them there is Linlithgow Cross Well. The current well dates from 1807 and replaces an earlier well. It is covered with several ornate carvings and topped with a unicorn head. The well displays Linlithgow's coat of arms which depict a black bitch chained to an oak tree on an island in Linlithgow Loch. The coat of arms refer to the legend of the black bitch which tells the story of a man condemned to be taken to an island in the middle of Linlithgow Loch and left there to starve, but his faithful black greyhound swims to him each day bringing him enough food to stay alive. Finally, she is caught, placed on a different island in the loch from her master and chained to an oak tree. Unable to leave the island, she also starves to death. We also saw a tapestry about this legend on display at the railway station.

Borough Halls and Cross Well.

Borough Halls and Cross Well.

Borough Halls and Cross Well.

Borough Halls and Cross Well.

The well and Linlithgow Coat of Arms.

The well and Linlithgow Coat of Arms.

Tapestry showing the legend of the black bitch.

Tapestry showing the legend of the black bitch.

Next we walked to the ruins of Linlithgow Palace. This palace was once one of the main residences of the Scottish kings and queens. The earliest building on this site was a royal manor, dating from the twelfth century. Later, in the fourteenth century, occupying English forces under the leadership of Edward I fortified the manor. In 1424, after a terrible fire swept through Linlithgow, King James I started rebuilding the fortification as a grand palace for Scottish royalty. Later James III and James IV added to the palace building. James V was born in Linlithgow Palace in April 1512. He added the outer gateway and the spectacular courtyard fountain. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at the Palace in December 1542. After the Union of the Crowns in 1603 the Royal Court moved to England and Linlithgow Palace was scarcely ever used. It began to fall into ruins. The Palace is said to be haunted by the ghost of Mary of Guise, the wife of James V and the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Statue of Mary Queen of Scots outside the palace.

Statue of Mary Queen of Scots outside the palace.

Linlithgow's most famous resident was Mary, Queen of Scots. She was born in Linlithgow Palace on the 8th of December 1542. When she was just six days old, her father, James V of Scotland, died and she acceded to the Scottish throne. Due to political instability and many religious changes taking place in Scotland, her French mother, Mary of Guise, took Mary to France, leaving regents to rule in her place. In 1558, when she was just sixteen, Mary married Francis, Dauphin of France, later to become King Francis II. However, Francis died in December 1560. At this point, Mary returned to Scotland. She arrived in Leith on the 19th of August 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. It was not a successful marriage. He was jealous of her friendship with her Catholic private secretary, David Rizzio, and had him stabbed to death in front of her, even though she was heavily pregnant at the time. In February 1567, Darnley's residence was blown up, and he was found murdered in his garden.

James Hepburn, the fourth Earl of Bothwell, a close friend of Mary's, was suspected of having murdered Darnley, but this could not be proved. He was acquitted and later married Mary. Unhappy with their Catholic queen, the Scots rose up against Mary and she was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. She was also forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son, James VI. Mary managed to escape her prison and fled southwards, seeking the protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Instead of helping her, Elizabeth feared that Mary may try to steal her throne and had her imprisoned for eighteen and a half years, until finally Mary was found guilty of treason and beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.

The Palace and St Michael's Church.

The Palace and St Michael's Church.

Entry to the palace was six pounds for me and four pounds eighty for my husband, an OAP. In the courtyard of the palace stands what is probably the most beautiful and ornate fountain in the whole of Scotland.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

The fountain.

The fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

Detail of the fountain.

The palace is filled with dark passageways, spiral staircases, many rooms such as kitchens and a chapel. There is also a tower to climb for views over Linlithgow and the loch.

Palace Courtyard.

Palace Courtyard.

Linlithgow Palace.

Linlithgow Palace.

In the palace chapel.

In the palace chapel.

View from the tower.

View from the tower.

View from the tower.

View from the tower.

Overlooking the palace.

Overlooking the palace.

View from the tower.

View from the tower.

Gateway to palace.

Gateway to palace.

The palace through the gateway.

The palace through the gateway.

On leaving the palace, we wandered into the nearby St Michael's Church, where we were greeted by a very helpful lady who handed us a laminated history of the church and welcomed us to look around. St Michael's Church was consecrated in 1242. Parts of it were destroyed in a fire in the fifteenth century and extensive restorations were carried out in the nineteenth century. This church was used as a place of worship by Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary, Queen of Scots was baptised here. In 1559, during the Scottish Reformation, many statues in the church were destroyed. In 1646, Oliver Cromwell's troops stabled their horses within the church causing a great deal of damage. The church originally had a stone Crown Tower, similar to the tower of St Giles' Cathedral, but this was replaced in 1964 by an aluminium crown tower.

Our visited coincided with Easter and there was some Easter related art work on display in the church. After visiting the church we strolled around its graveyard. It had some amazingly beautiful gravestones.

Inside St Michael's Church.

Inside St Michael's Church.

Easter Art.

Easter Art.

Light through a stained glass window.

Light through a stained glass window.

Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary Queen of Scots.

The Garden of Gethsemane.

The Garden of Gethsemane.

St Michael's Church.

St Michael's Church.

Beautiful gravestone.

Beautiful gravestone.

Beautiful gravestone.

Beautiful gravestone.

Finally we took a chilly walk along Linlithgow Loch, till we were so cold we had to return to the station. That bitter wind again. The loch is surrounded by a beautiful park. There were several dog walkers and boating enthusiasts there when we visited. On a summer's day it would be a lovely place for a walk.

Linlithgow Loch.

Linlithgow Loch.

Linlithgow Loch.

Linlithgow Loch.

Posted by irenevt 03:05 Archived in Scotland Tagged palace of queen mary linlithgow scots Comments (2)

Glasgow Revisited

Summer 2017.

Glasgow is home rather than a centre of tourism for me, but in recent years I have been looking a bit more closely at its sights. I started by having a look at The Lighthouse.

Why would there be a lighthouse in the centre of Glasgow you are probably wondering. Well, The Lighthouse was designed by Glasgow's most famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It was originally used as the offices of the Glasgow Herald newspaper. It was completed in 1895. Mackintosh designed the tower of this building to hold an 8,000-gallon water tank to protect the building and all its contents in the event of a fire.

Nowadays it is Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture and called The Lighthouse because its tower looks like a lighthouse. It is free entry. It houses various exhibitions including one on Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It has two viewing points. One is at the top of the spiral lighthouse tower stairs and the other is accessible by lift. There is a gift shop on the ground floor. Personally I was not interested in the exhibitions in the building, but I liked the building itself and the views from it.

On level five of The Lighthouse there is a restaurant called the Doocot Café Bar. It is open Monday to Saturday from 10.30am to 4.30pm and from 12.00pm to 4.30pm on Sundays.

The towers that earn this building its name.

The towers that earn this building its name.

Stairway up the tower.

Stairway up the tower.

View from the top.

View from the top.

View from the top.

View from the top.

View from the top.

View from the top.

Around this area there were a lot more murals that have been used to brighten up buildings in the city centre and west end.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Glasgow mural.

Later I had a quick look in GOMA - the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. This is located in Royal Exchange Square. Again I personally found the building more interesting than the exhibits inside. It was built in 1778 as the townhouse of William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, a wealthy Glasgow Tobacco Lord. It was later bought in 1817 by the Royal Bank of Scotland. It then became the Royal Exchange. In 1954, Glasgow District Libraries moved the Stirling's Library into the building. This is the use I associate it with as that is what it was in my childhood. In 1996 it became a gallery of modern art. Entry to the building is free; exhibitions change, downstairs is still a library.

In front of the gallery there is an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. This was sculpted by Carlo Marochetti in 1844. Drunken revellers used to regularly place a traffic cone on this statue's head for a laugh and it was always being removed. Now it has a permanent traffic cone, in fact three on our last visit, and it has become a symbol of Glasgow. We stayed for one night in the nearby Ibis Styles Hotel and found traffic cones and cranes were the themes to this building. It even had traffic cone shaped lights.

The Duke of Wellington.

The Duke of Wellington.

Inside GOMA.

Inside GOMA.

Ibis Styles, Glasgow.

Ibis Styles, Glasgow.

The other touristy things we did was to revisit Riverside Museum which was closed when we last went there. This time we walked to it from Partick Station, easier than from the SECC.

Riverside Museum occupies a beautiful glass fronted building on the banks of the River Clyde. It was designed by world renowned Iraqi female architect Zaha Hadid. It is home to Glasgow's transport museum. This is free entry and is well-worth seeing. I liked its Glasgow underground exhibit and replica of an old-style Glasgow street.

Out the front of the museum, you can board a tall ship - the Glenlee - one of only five remaining Clydebuilt sailing ships still afloat in the world. This is also free entry and very child friendly.

Peter with the Glenlee.

Peter with the Glenlee.

Me outside Riverside.

Me outside Riverside.

On the Glenlee.

On the Glenlee.

On the Glenlee.

On the Glenlee.

In the transport museum.

In the transport museum.

In the transport museum.

In the transport museum.

We also took the free ferry from Riverside across the River Clyde to visit Govan Old Parish Church - a lovely building dating from 1888, which is home to the Govan Stones. The Govan Stones are a collection of early medieval stones carved in the Kingdom of Strathclyde in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries. The stones include the sun stone, the Jordanhill cross - so called because it was found in the grounds of Jordanhill House, the cuddy stane - with its image of a donkey, hogbacks, which look like they are some living scampering animal, and a very ornately decorated stone sarcophagus. Govan Old also has an interesting graveyard which is older than the church. Some of its stones featured winged skulls and reminded me of the carvings on old gravestones in Boston.

Govan Old Church.

Govan Old Church.

Stone Sarcophagus.

Stone Sarcophagus.

The Jordanhill Cross.

The Jordanhill Cross.

The Sun Stone.

The Sun Stone.

The Hogbacks.

The Hogbacks.

Reminds me of the grave stones in Boston.

Reminds me of the grave stones in Boston.

Free ferry between Govan Stones and Riverside.

Free ferry between Govan Stones and Riverside.

Looking back at Riverside and the Glenlee from Govan.

Looking back at Riverside and the Glenlee from Govan.

Posted by irenevt 19:08 Archived in Scotland Comments (2)

Glasgow's other historic heart.

The area around Glasgow Cross.

While the area around Glasgow Cathedral is correctly thought of as the historic heart of Glasgow, a second historic centre also developed where High Street, Gallowgate, London Road, the Saltmarket and the Trongate intersect. This area is known as Glasgow Cross. It is the old market cross area of Glasgow.

Glasgow Cross.

Glasgow Cross.

Most old British towns have a market cross or in Scottish Mercat Cross which marks the site where markets can be held. It normally takes the form of a stone obelisk which might be a cross or might be topped by an animal. The one in Glasgow is topped with a unicorn's head. The Mercat Cross dates from 1929. Behind it stands the Mercat Building which dates from 1928.

Mercat Cross and the Mercat Building.

Mercat Cross and the Mercat Building.

One of the most noticeable landmarks of Glasgow Cross is the Tollbooth Steeple. The Tollbooth Steeple dates from 1627. Along with Glasgow's original Tolbooth it was used to house the Town Clerk’s office, the council chamber and the city jail. It was sold in 1814 and then became the premises of John A. Bowman who was an auctioneer and valuator. It was demolished in 1921, leaving only the steeple which is still there in the present day. The Tolbooth Steeple was once the site of public hangings.

The Tolbooth Steeple.

The Tolbooth Steeple.

One of the roads intersecting at Market Cross is the Trongate. The name Trongate comes from a sixteenth century weighbeam, where all goods
brought in from the Clyde were weighed and taxed. Tron is an old Scots word of Norman origin meaning weighing scales. The Tron Kirk with its distinctive steeple and clock, located at 63 Trongate, is this street's most famous landmark. It dates from 1793. Its steeple dates from 1631 and it is one of the oldest buildings in the Merchant City. The Tron Kirk was redeveloped in 1999 at a cost of five million pounds. Nowadays the main body of the old church is the new Tron Theatre.

The Tron Kirk.

The Tron Kirk.

Not too far from this bustling historic area, lies another much quieter historical place - Glasgow Green. Glasgow Green is the oldest park in the city of Glasgow. It is located on the north banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow's East End. Edwin Morgan wrote a famous poem about it. It starts like this:

'Clammy midnight, moonless mist.
A cigarette glows and fades on a cough.
Methmen mutter on benches,
pawed by river Fog.'

King James II gave the land that became Glasgow Green to Bishop William Turnbull and the people of Glasgow in 1450. At that time the Green was divided by the Camlachie and Molendinar Burns. The green was used as a grazing area, an area to wash and bleach linen and an area to dry fishing nets. Glasgow's first steamie, called The Washhouse, opened on Glasgow Green on the banks of the Camlachie Burn in 1732. Over the years Glasgow Green has been the site of protests, marches, celebrations and much, much more.

Glasgow Green.

Glasgow Green.

The McLennan Arch was originally part of Glasgow's Assembly Rooms which were built in 1796 on the north side of Ingram Street. These Rooms were a gathering place for dances and music. In 1847 the Assembly Rooms became the Atheneum Club. These rooms were demolished in 1892 to make way for the new General Post Office, but their central arch was kept and moved to Glasgow Green in 1922. It looks like a triumphal arch in the style of the Arc de Triomphe. Near the arch stands the Collins Fountain which commemorates William Collins, owner of the Collins Publishing Firm, Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1877 to 1880 and a leading member of the Temperance Movement.

The McLennan Arch.

The McLennan Arch.

The Nelson Monument on Glasgow Green is a 43.5 m high column. It was built in 1806, less than a year after Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson was born on the 29th of September 1758. He was most famous for fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. After his death there was a massive public outpouring of grief. He was given a state funeral before being buried in St Paul's Cathedral. A number of monuments and memorials were constructed across the United Kingdom to honour his memory. The one on Glasgow Green was the earliest of these.

Nelson's Column

Nelson's Column

The main reason people go to Glasgow Green is probably to visit the People's Palace. The People's Palace was opened on the 22nd of January, 1898 by the Earl of Rosebery. The People's Palace is a free admission museum about life in Glasgow. On the ground floor it has a gift shop, free and clean toilets, a cafe and a very pleasant Winter Garden enclosed in a glass house. Upstairs there are models of a steamie, an old shop, a wartime Anderson shelter, a prison cell and a kitchen. There are also exhibits on tenement life, dancing at the Barrowland Ballroom, going 'Doon the Watter' to Rothesay and much much more. At the back of the People's Palace there is a large glass conservatory called the Winter Garden. It is a pleasant place to sit and relax, maybe read a book or consult your mobile phone. It is also possible to enjoy some refreshments from its cafe. The gardens contain a wide variety of flowers and plants.

The People's Palace.

The People's Palace.

The People's Palace.

The People's Palace.

The Doulton Fountain was designed by Arthur Edward Pearce to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. It now stands in front of the People's Palace on Glasgow Green, but was originally displayed at the 1888 International Exhibition in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. The fountain is 46 feet high. The Doulton Fountain celebrates the former British Empire. At the top is a statue of Queen Victoria which was sculpted by John Broad. One level down there are four kneeling maidens emptying pitchers. Down one more level and there are sentries representing Scottish, English and Irish regiments, and a sailor representing the Royal Navy. Below this there are scenes representing Canada, South Africa, Australia and India. The Doulton Fountain is the largest terracota fountain in the world.

Off to one side of the People's Palace on Glasgow Green there is a statue of a little boy playing a pan pipe. At his feet there are two squirrels obviously entranced by the music. This statue is officially called Springtime, though it is affectionately known as Peter Pan. Springtime was designed by Thomas J Clapperton, a sculptor who lived from 1879 until 1962. Clapperton also sculpted the statue of Robert the Bruce outside Edinburgh Castle and the statue of Learning which adorns the top of the Mitchell Library. That statue is affectionately known as Mrs Mitchell. Clapperton was born in Galashiels.

Springtime.

Springtime.

To one side of the People's Palace there is a statue of James Watt. For years this stood on Dassie Green, Bridgeton. It was in a rundown state and had even lost its head. It has been restored and relocated to Glasgow Green where it could do with a bit of demossing, but at least it is intact. James Watt was born in Greenock on the 18th of January 1736. His father was a wealthy shipwright. James Watt was fascinated with steam engines from an early age. These were around when he was born, but they were hopelessly inefficient. One Sabbath Day while Watt was wandering across Glasgow Green, pondering the inefficiencies of steam engines, he hit upon the idea of condensing the steam in a separate vessel. This idea is credited with kick starting the industrial revolution. The place where inspiration struck Watt is marked by an inscribed stone. It is near the Nelson Monument. We missed it as it was being set up for a fair when we visited. It is called the James Watt Boulder. Its inscription reads: "Near this spot in 1765 James Watt conceived the idea for the separate condenser for the steam engine." Watt worked on engines for many years. By 1790, he was rich. In 1800 he retired and devoted himself entirely to research work. He patented several important inventions such as: the rotary engine, the double action engine and the steam indicator. He died on the 19th of August 1819. A unit of measurement of electrical and mechanical power the
watt is named in his honour.

James Watt statue.

James Watt statue.

Just across from Glasgow Green stands the Templeton Carpet Factory. James Templeton from Cambletown was a business man who originally owned a shawl factory in Paisley. However, he went on to patent a process by which he could manufacture densely patterned and richly coloured carpets. He soon became one of the most successful carpet manufacturers in Britain and produced carpets for state occasions, grand estate houses and even the Titanic. Templeton commissioned Scottish architect, William Leiper, to design his carpet factory on the edge of Glasgow Green. The design for the factory was inspired by the Doge's Palace in Venice. The colourful glazed brick exterior relates to the rich Oriental patterns of the carpets the factory produced. Work on the factory began in 1888 and was completed in 1892. However, during construction there was a terrible accident. On the 1st of November 1889, part of the factory's wall collapsed during high winds, trapping over 100 women working in the weaving sheds underneath. Twenty-nine of these women were killed. The People's Palace has exhibits on the factory.

The Templeton  Carpet Factory.

The Templeton Carpet Factory.

Another old building near Glasgow Green is the impressive looking Justiciary Courthouse which is located just across the road from the McLennan Arch. This building is one of the earliest and finest examples of a Greek revival building in Glasgow. It was designed by the architect, William Stark. It was built between 1807 and 1814. It Initially acted as a courtroom, offices and a gaol, but later became courthouses only. Between 1814 and 1865 public executions were carried out in Jocelyn Square located nearby on Glasgow Green, facing the Nelson Monument. 67 men and 4 women were hanged there.

The Justiciary Courthouse.

The Justiciary Courthouse.

There are several lovely bridges near or leading to Glasgow Green. I really liked St Andrew's Suspension Bridge.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge.

St Andrew's Suspension Bridge.

Glasgow Green has several lovely fountains. The most famous and ornate is the Doulton Fountain mentioned above. However, next to Glasgow Green there is also a lovely fountain in memory of Glasgow Bailie, James Martin. James Martin was born in 1815 and died in 1892. In a long and distinguished career he was a Town Councillor, the Town's Master of Works, a member of the Clyde Navigation Trust, a Justice of the Peace and a Police Judge. His fountain was erected by public subscription after his death. It is made of cast iron and dates from 1894.

The James Martin Fountain.

The James Martin Fountain.

A simpler but equally pretty fountain is the Hugh MacDonald Fountain at Glasgow Green near the people's Palace. Hugh MacDonald was born in 1817 and died in 1860. He was a poet and writer. He was best known for 'Rambles Round Glasgow' in which he recorded his walks around the city. This fountain nicknamed the "Bonnie Wee Well" was designed by John Mossman.

The Hugh MacDonald Fountain.

The Hugh MacDonald Fountain.

Posted by irenevt 07:58 Archived in Scotland Comments (4)

Old Glasgow

The historical centre of the city.

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I grew up on the outskirts of Glasgow. As I started to travel more and more and research many new places, I suddenly realised that I knew embarrassingly little about my own city. In the last couple of years I have started trying to remedy this by learning a bit about where I am from.

The heart of historical Glasgow centres around its medieval cathedral. This is thought to have been built on the site of the tomb of St Mungo, the partron saint of Glasgow. According to legend in the fifth century St. Ninian created a Christian burial ground in an area that later developed into Glasgow. A century later Mungo, who was born and brought up in Fife where he was trained as a priest by St Serf, had to accompany the corpse of a holy man, Fergus. Fergus's corpse was carried on a cart by two wild oxen. Mungo planned to bury Fergus wherever the oxen stopped the cart. They stopped at St Ninian's burial ground. Mungo buried Fergus there and established a church at the same spot. Mungo called the place he buried Fergus 'Glasgu' or the dear green place.

Glasgow Cathedral was the only major cathedral on the Scottish mainland which managed to survive the Reformation. Entry to Glasgow Cathedral nowadays is free. It has some beautiful stain glass windows. The tomb of St Mungo's is downstairs in the crypt.

The Tomb of St. Mungo.

The Tomb of St. Mungo.

Inside the cathedral.

Inside the cathedral.

There are several other historic sights near Glasgow Cathedral. On the hill behind it stands the Necropolis - Glasgow's city of the dead. This large Victorian era graveyard contains many interesting tombs and affords wonderful views of the cathedral and its neighbour the Royal Infirmary. I worked in Glasgow Royal Infirmary one summer when I was a student at Glasgow University and used to have to wheel laundry trolleys through tunnels underneath the hospital. Allegedly an escape tunnel for the monks to flee down if attacked went from Glasgow Cathedral to the area now occupied by the hospital.

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis.

Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis.

Glasgow Cathedral and the Royal Infirmary.

Glasgow Cathedral and the Royal Infirmary.

The Necropolis includes the graves of around fifty thousand people. It was created by the Merchants' House of Glasgow and first opened in April 1833. On top of the Necropolis Hill there is a statue of John Knox mounted on a tall column. This dates from 1825. On our last visit I also noticed the grave of William Miller - the writer of the Scottish nursery rhyme 'Wee Willie Winkie'. The rhyme goes like this :

Wee Willie Winkie running through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Chapping at the windows; crying through the locks,
Are all the bairnies in their beds, it's past eight o'clock?

The grave of William Miller.

The grave of William Miller.

Another notable grave is that of Charles Tennant (1768 – 1838) a Scottish chemist and industrialist who discovered bleaching powder. There's also a large memorial to Duncan Macfarlan (1771-1857). He was the Principal of the University of Glasgow from 1823 to 1857 and the Minister at St Mungo’s Cathedral from 1824 to 1857.

John Knox Column; Duncan MacFarlan grave.

John Knox Column; Duncan MacFarlan grave.

Next to Glasgow Cathedral stands the Saint Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. This is a lovely museum which I did not do full justice to as I visited it in a bit of a rush. It is free to enter. This museum was built in 1989 by Ian Begg - no wonder I don't remember it from my childhood; it did not exist then. The museum building is designed to look like the Bishops’ Castle which once stood on this site. The museum has exhibits from and about all the world's major religions. It also has a Zen Garden, a cafe, a gift shop and clean, free toilets, too.

Saint Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

Saint Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art.

Stain glass window in the museum.

Stain glass window in the museum.

Hindu goddess.

Hindu goddess.

Zen Garden.

Zen Garden.

Just across the road from this museum is Provand's Lordship - Glasgow's oldest remaining house. Provand's Lordship was built in 1471 by Andrew Muirhead, Bishop of Glasgow. It was originally part of St Nicholas's Hospital. Provand's Lordship is now a free entry museum. It occupies three floors and has several rooms filled with period furniture and an art gallery on the top floor. The furniture in the house is mainly seventeenth-century and was donated by Sir William Burrell. As it is such an old building, there are many ghost stories told about it. Personally I have never found this building scary, but then again I have never been in it alone at night.

Provand's Lordship.

Provand's Lordship.

Inside Provand's Lordship.

Inside Provand's Lordship.

Provand's Lordhip also has a lovely little garden called the St Nicholas Garden. This is a medicinal herb garden surrounded by a cloistered walkway. The walls of the walkway are decorated with the Tontine Heads.

One of the Tontine Heads.

One of the Tontine Heads.

The Tontine Heads originally adorned the Town Hall built in Trongate by Allan Dreghorn between 1737 and 1760. David Cation carved five masks to decorate the walls of this building. Mungo Naismith later supplied an additional five masks. In 1781 the Town Hall was converted by William Hamilton into the Tontine Hotel and the ten masks became known as the Tontine Heads. These heads were acquired by Peter Shannan in 1872 and were used to adorn his new warehouse at the bottom of Buchanan Street. As well as the original ten heads, he added four more carved by William James Maxwell. In 1888 this warehouse was destroyed by fire, one of the heads was destroyed; the others were dispersed to various new owners. In 1994 all the heads that still survived were brought together again and relocated to St Nicholas Garden. These heads are well worth seeing as they have a lot of character.

Another of the Tontine Heads.

Another of the Tontine Heads.

On the walls of St Nicholas's Garden and on the lamposts in Cathedral Square visitors to Glasgow are sure to notice its rather unusual Coat of Arms. A famous rhyme goes along with it:

This is the tree that never grew,
This is the bird that never flew,
This is the fish that never swam,
This is the bell that never rang.
Let Glasgow Flourish.

Glasgow did not have a coat of arms until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1866, Lord Lyon King at Arms gave approval for a coat of arms which contained a number of symbols associated with St Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow. St Mungo is well known for having preached a sermon containing the words: 'Lord, let Glasgow Flourish by the preaching of the word.' This was shortened to the motto: Let Glasgow Flourish.

The tree that never grew in the coat of arms started out as a branch of a hazel tree. Legend says that St Mungo was left in charge of a holy fire while he was in St Serf's Monastery, but he fell asleep. Some boys, jealous of Mungo's favoured position with St Serf, put the fire out. When he woke up, St Mungo broke off some branches from a hazel tree and prayed over them, causing them to burst into flames.

The bird that never flew was a wild robin which was tamed by St Serf and which was accidentally killed. St Mungo was blamed for the death, but took the dead bird, prayed over it and restored it to life.

The fish that never swam is always shown with a ring in its mouth, because a King of Strathclyde gave his wife a ring as a present. However, the Queen gave it to a knight and he carelessly lost it. The King then demanded to see the ring threatening to kill the Queen if she could not produce it. The knight confessed to St Mungo that he had lost the ring and St Mungo sent a monk to catch a fish in the River Clyde. The ring was found inside the fish.

The bell that never rang was St Mungo's Bell, paid for by an endowment left by John Stewart, the first Lord Provost of Glasgow. This bell was tolled throughout the city so that the citizens would pray for his soul.

The Glasgow Coat of Arms.

The Glasgow Coat of Arms.

While the cathedral area is the historic heart of Glasgow, I always think of nearby George Square as being the modern heart of the city. It is right in the centre next to Queens Street Station and not far from major shopping streets like Sauchiehall Street and Buchanan Street. It is where people gather on Hogmanay to listen to the bells and welcome in the New Year. It is where people stage protests there was a demonstration for transgender rights on our last visit. It is where city centre workers sit to eat their sandwiches on their lunch break.
Several famous, tragic or important events have taken place here. In 1919 a huge protest attended by over 90,000 people demonstrating for improved working conditions was held here. This was known as the Black Friday Rally. It turned violent, the Riot Act had to be read and fully
armed troops and tanks had to be deployed to restore law and order. In December 2014, a bin lorry crashed into pedestrians in George Square, killing six people and injuring ten.

George Square is named after King George III. It was created in 1781. It is home to the City Chambers the headquarters of Glasgow City Council which date from 1888. It has a lion flanked war memorial and lots of statues. These include one of Robert Burns, James Watt, Sir Robert Peel, Queen Victoria on a horse, Prince Albert, poet Thomas Campbell, chemist Thomas Graham, generals Sir John Moore and Lord Clyde and politicians William Ewart Gladstone and James Oswald. Right in the centre there is an eighty foot high column topped by Sir Walter Scott.

George Square.

George Square.

Posted by irenevt 02:40 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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