Ruins of a Legendary Medieval Castle Uncovered in Scotland
A legendary castle dating back to the 12th century has been relocated after being lost for more than a century. The building was uncovered during work by Scottish Water in the area of the medieval village of Partick, now Glasgow, in Scotland. The ruins of the castle were swept away by the building of a Victorian railway station.
Excavation of Partick Castle walls and ditch. ( GUARD Archaeology Ltd )
For decades, archaeologists believed that the castle may have been built in Partick on the banks of the River Kelvin by a king of Strathclyde. The settlement existed from the 7th century, when the first hunting lodge in the area was built. The construction of the castle was linked to the creation of a medieval church in Govan dedicated to St. Constantine, on the other side of a ford across the River Clyde.
A 19th century artist's impression of the second Partick Castle on the banks of the Kelvin, looking south towards Govan. ( Mitchell Library, Special Collections )
According to the Scotsman, the physical remains of the legendary Partick Castle have been uncovered by construction workers carrying out improvements to the city’s waste water infrastructure. In medieval times, the castle was a country retreat for the powerful bishops of Glasgow. The results published by experts from Guard Archaeology say that they've already discovered fragments of metalwork, pottery, glass, leather, and animal bones.
A variety of fragments that survived under generations of industrial use on the site. ( GUARD Archaeology )
Hugh McBrien, of West of Scotland Archaeology Service, said:
“No-one knew anything about the 12th century castle in Partick. There was documentary evidence that the bishops of Glasgow spent time in Partick and there have been historical references to charters signed at Patrick. But that’s all. It has been known that there was a tower house or castle in the 17th century but all we had were antiquarian drawings and documents that refer to Partick Castle. So we expected there was archaeology in this area, because of historical records, but this discovery is the first hard, tangible evidence that both castles existed.”
In 1880, the castle was in ruins, so the officials decided to clear the area and build the station. The station was closed in 1964, and later the site was occupied as a scrapyard. In the meantime, the territory of Partick became a part of Glasgow (in 1912).
The excavations began due to the decisions of developers. They had planned to build student housing at the site of the Partick Castle. It is unknown if will they change their mind after this discovery, which may be an interesting tourist attraction.
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The finding became possible after a long analysis of the plans of Partick. The history of this area is well documented on old maps. In 19th century plans it is possible to understand the industrialization of the time. The village Partick was first known as Perdyc, and was founded during the reign of King David I of Scotland, who granted parts of the area called "lands of Perdyc" to Bishop John Achaius in 1136 AD.
Govan, Scotland region (from the 1654 Blaeu map of Scotland). ( Public Domain ) Partick is found in the upper left corner of the map.
However, the name Partick comes from much earlier times, during the period when the Kingdom of Strathclyde ruled the area. The territory which belonged to them also contained Govan on the opposite side of the River Clyde. The local language was a form of Cymro-Celtic, which highly influenced modern-day Welsh. The earliest name of Partick comes from the Cymro-Celtic. Per means sweet fruit, and Teq means beautiful or fair.
The Kingdom of Strathclyde collapsed in the 12th century. As mentioned before, the village of Partick became the property of bishops. It was perhaps also an important religious center during the 13th and early 14th century, but there is no archaeological evidence for that.
Partick Bridge over the Kelvin, 1846. ( Gregor Macgregor )
The final version of Partick Castle was built in 1611 for George Hutcheson , a wealthy Glasgow merchant and benefactor. Hutcheson was also one of the brothers who founded Hutchesons' Hospital and Hutchesons' Grammar School in Glasgow.
Historians writing in the 19th century suggested the castle was abandoned by 1770 and most of its stone was reused by locals. Partick Castle had almost completely disappeared in the early 19th century.
The remains are thought to be of two buildings, one dating back to the 12th or 13th century, and a later structure from the early 1600s. ( The Scotsman )
Now, after 800 years, the discovery of Partick Castle is described by McBrien as” the most significant archaeological discovery in Glasgow in a generation.". This castle appears as a symbol of the former power of Scotland.
Featured Image: Partick Castle , a watercolor painting by John A. Gilfillan (1793-1864). Source: The Glasgow Story
I love old history and am excited to learn more
So weird reading this. I grew up in Govan, and it's now considered one of the poorest areas of Britain, with the lowest life expectancy. A far cry from the country retreat described in the article.