Tag Archive: Glasgow

Guide to Glasgow Necropolis

Biographic and descriptive sketches of Glasgow Necropolis by George Blair (Glasgow, 1857)

This 19th century Tourist’s Guide to Glasgow is not only a fascinating read, but has some beautiful colour plates at the end.

Glasgow University, from Tourist’s Guide to Glasgow, 1887

There’s one of the university without its spire that is stunning, as well as views of the Clyde, Trongate, George Square, the Royal Exchange (with hat-free Duke of Wellington statue 🙂 ) and some beautiful images of the cathedral.


Buchanan Street, from Tourist’s Guide to Glasgow, 1887

However, the image of the Stock Exchange caught my eye, because at the bottom of Buchanan Street, a church can be clearly seen in St Enoch Square. Enoch is actually a linguistic mangling of Thenew, who was mother of St Kentigern/Mungo, so it’s no surprise that there would be a church there – I’d just never known of one before.

What I had heard of was a holy well, dedicated to St Thenew, with an associated chapel, marking where Thenew was supposedly buried.

There’s more details about how the well was used:

It was shaded by an old tree which drooped over the well, and which remained till the end of the last century. On this tree the devotees who frequented the well were accustomed to nail, as thank-offerings, small bits of tin-iron – probably manufactured for that purpose by a craftsman in the neighbourhood – representing the parts of the body supposed to have been cured by the virtues of the sacred spring – such as eyes, hands, feet, ears and others

Andrew Macgeorge, Old Glasgow, the place and the people, 1880

St Enoch's Square, NLS maps

St Enoch’s Square, NLS maps

Holy wells often have an associated chapel. Wells and natural springs were commonly important in pre-Christian times and they were often consecrated when Christianity took over to encourage continuity of religious practice. Since folks were coming along anyway, you may as well convert them while they’re around.

It seems likely from the description that this was a ancient sacred place, especially given the metalwork being used as votive offerings. Part of St. Enoch Square seems to have been the burial ground associated with the chapel so it’s not surprising that the church is named for St Enoch as well. So far as I can tell, the chapel fell into ruins following the Reformation, a new church was built in 1780, and the final St Enoch church was demolished in 1926 after the congregation moved.

It turns out that this area was part of the ‘Old Green’ and therefore, common land. Interesting that Argyle Street, St Enoch Square and Jamaica Street had already been named when Glasgow Council advertised the land for sale in 1777; wonder if there’s any connection to Andrew Buchanan’s advert for “a street to be opened directly opposite to St Enoch’s Square” the previous week!  (Senex: Old Glasgow and its environs).

All connection to St Thenew/St Enoch beyond the name is now invisible, but it’s intriguing to wonder if the cemetery, chapel, well and churches are a reason why the Square has managed to remain an open space.

More information
Sidelights on Scottish History by Michael Barrett
Glasgow history blog with lots of photos from old postcards, including St Enoch Church.
The Glasgow Story has a page on St Enoch Church, and a beautiful sketch from 1797
Holy wells in and around Glasgow
Canmore has data on St Enoch’s Church and the well
The Glasgow Story has a nice map from 1894, claiming to represent Glasgow in 1547, showing chapel, cemetery and the well a t the end of a ‘vennel’

Sighthill stones

Sighthill Park is the site of the most recent astronomical stone alignment in Scotland, built in 1979. But Glasgow City Council have decided that “no-one knows about it” and it’s standing in the way of their plans.

There’s a petition against this decision here.

It may only be only 34 years old, but it is a Glasgow landmark, albeit incomplete.

You can hear about this story on the latest Scotland Outdoors podcast.