-the early history

The Scotland Guide
© David Williams


Glasgow is not an ancient city (though the Romans did establish forts nearby during their occupation of this part of Scotland), but its history as a relatively important community can be traced back nearly nine hundred years. Bishop John Achaius began building the first cathedral around 1124 on a site where the city`s patron saint, St Mungo, was said to have erected a wooden church and from then on Glasgow`s role as a religious centre ensured its political prominence in the West of Scotland. It also developed as a market town and thus played a pivotal role in the local economy.

After the Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1172 a new building was erected (see picture) and a tomb was established for St Mungo. The city`s original centre (where High Street meets Rottenrow) was close to the Cathedral and from there High Street ran downhill to where Glasgow Cross now stands; a fishing community developed in the area between this latter cross and the River Clyde. The medieval city was legally established as a `burgh of barony` with the bishop as the feudal superior and thus the person who was able to control the social, commercial and political life of the whole community. Scotland`s other principal religious centre, St Andrews, had founded a university in 1413 and in the 1450s Glasgow`s Bishop Turnbull was granted a papal Bull which led to the formation of the University of Glasgow. This was based in the old part of the city until the late nineteenth century when it moved to the West End.

This article is based on the guidebook "The Glasgow Guide".

Glasgow Cathedral, the city`s most important medieval building.
It was perched on high ground above the River Clyde and the town developed along the road (High Street) connecting the cathedral with the river crossing.
Next history article:
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries
List of history articles:
History of Glasgow

The Scotland Guide: links
All areas
Special subjects
Scotland Help
Glasgow Help

The Scotland Bookshop: links
The Scotland Bookshop homepage
Books about the whole of Scotland
Bookshop Help