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Celebrated collection of medieval Govan sculptures given new lease of life

12 July 2013

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today visited Govan Old Church to open a new display of the Govan Stones; one of Scotland’s best collections of early medieval sculpture. She arrived by boat to mark the beginning of a free, month-long ferry service between Govan and Glasgow’s Riverside Museum that gives Museum visitors access to the Govan Stones.  

The collection consists of 31 pieces of sculpture, ranging from a highly-ornate sarcophagus to a number of crosses as well as the largest Scottish collection of ‘hogback’ stones, which are thought to have been used as grave markers.

During the past 18 months a programme of work has been carried out to show off the stones to their full advantage, opening up space around them and lighting them to allow the intricate carvings to be more easily appreciated. In addition, improved interpretation will enable visitors to better understand the stories behind the stones and their historical context.

The size of the collection and the craftsmanship of the sculptures is testament to the influence and power of the kingdom of Strathclyde in medieval times. It also shows that Govan sat at the heart of royal power within the kingdom.  However, the range of designs and decorations also reveals that the people of Strathclyde were widely connected; to Picts in the east, the Gaels to the west and the Anglo-Scandinavians to the south.

The project has been led by the Govan Old Management Group supported by Professor Stephen Driscoll of Glasgow University and by Govan Workspace, a local economic development agency. It has been funded by a number of national bodies including Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Glasgow City Council. Other funding has come from Govan & Linthouse Congregation, the Friends of Govan Old and the Ferguson Bequest Fund. In addition to grants and advice, Historic Scotland also undertook conservation work and the moving of the stones.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is a collection which is of European significance and I am delighted that after a lot of hard work from both locals and national bodies, the Govan Stones are being displayed so beautifully. They help to tell the story of the history of the area, and it is to the great credit of the people of Govan that they are being celebrated in this way. It is wonderful to see the local community taking such pride in their heritage, in such a way that also contributes to Govan’s on-going, successful regeneration.”

Notes for editors:

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For further information


Alice Wyllie
Media & PR Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603
alice.wyllie@scotland.gsi.gov.uk