Nicola Sturgeon with young Vikings at Govan

This afternoon, I attended a ceremony at Govan Old Parish Church, near Glasgow, to celebrate the redisplay of the Govan Stones at which Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was guest of honour.

The day was hot and sunny with temperature in the high 20s centigrade. Events commenced with Ms Sturgeon arriving at the ferry crossing point on the nearby River Clyde where she was met by a group of enthusiastic young Vikings. After a return trip across the river by Ms Sturgeon and her ‘escort’ the focus moved to the nearby Govan Old Parish Church where various dignatories gave speeches in recognition of the community efforts made to preserve and redisplay the Govan Stones which comprise a unique collection of early medieval (9th-11th centuries) sculptures associated with  the historic power base of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. This was prior to Glasgow eclipsing its Govan neighbour as a centre of trade and religious importance.

River Clyde at Govan, Scotland

Govan Ferry, River Clyde, Scotland

Here is Govan Old Church which dates from the 19th century but sits on a Christian site dating back to, possibly, the 5th century AD. The current building is the fourth such parish church on the site.

Govan Old Parish Church, Scotland

Govan Old Parish Church, Scotland

The stones are made from locally quarried sandstone. The were sculpted at a time of cultural mixing and reflect influences from Ireland, Northumbria, Pictland and Scandinavia.  The ‘hogbacks’ shown immediately below are consistent with Viking culture while the other scupltures incorporate elaborate carvings and patterns containing symbols and Old Testament ideas. Arguably, the piece de resistance, is a carved stone sarcophagus which speculation links with the 9th century Scottish King, Constantine I.

Hogbacks

Viking era Hogbacks at Govan Old Parish Church, Scotland

Carved Stones

Early Medieval Carved Stone at Govan, Scotland

Sarcophagus

The Govan collection is one of the largest and most important of its type in Scotland. Efforts are being made to raise the profile of the Govan Stones, an initiative which is fully deserving of support. Not to be overlooked is the important collection of high quality, Victorian era, stained glass windows which are installed in the church.

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