East Kilbride was Scotland’s first new town. The ‘East’ was added to distinguish it from ‘West’ Kilbride in Ayrshire, although there are several other Kilbrides in Scotland. At school, I was always told that East Kilbride meant the church of St Bride or  St Brigit.

Later, I learned about early Christianity in Scotland, and realised that Kil-Bride indicated a cell (Gaelic: cill) or monastic settlement dedicated to St Brigit. That makes it a pretty old settlement.

Brigit supposedly founded the first nunnery in Ireland. Big deal.  It never explained to me why this Irish saint was remembered in west central Scotland?

Well,  Stuart McHardy’s book On the trail of Scotland’s myths and legends, suggests that St Brigit might actually be a Christianised version of the pagan goddess, Bride. Obviously there’s no way of confirming this now, but there’s an interesting pointer to the past at East Kilbride Old Parish Church.

Check out the aerial view of the kirkyard wall. A circular churchyard like this often suggests a pagan site that’s been Christianised in an attempt to promote Christianity by superceding older practices. I’m not suggesting that this is evidence of paganism in East Kilbride, but it does suggest that the site has been used for a long, long time.