Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Govan Stones

Fascinating history of the Govan Stones, Glasgow

The Hazel Tree

On the south bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow is a district called Govan.  Shipbuilding was once a major industry here, and now it’s a busy urban area of houses, flats, businesses and shops.  Not the most obvious place to start looking for early medieval history.

But appearances can be deceptive.

Govan Church (3)Secreted within this concrete jungle is a little time-bubble in the shape of Govan Old Parish Church.  The building itself isn’t really that old – it dates from 1888 – but it’s surrounded by a much older graveyard;  and if you step inside, you’ll come face to face with some jaw-dropping medieval treasures.

“One of the best collections of early medieval sculpture anywhere in the British Isles.”   Gareth Williams, curator of the British Museum Viking exhibition

Govan church interior (3)

I’m not talking just about the fabulously carved Jordanhill Cross or the Sun Stone with its writhing bouquet of serpents, although…

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Modern scholarship on Mary of Guise

Mary of Guise

Marie de Guise-Lorraine 1515-2015

Throughout the Middle Ages into the sixteenth century, France and Scotland were closely allied under the banner of “my enemies’ enemy is my friend”, and both were enemies of England. Mary, a woman from the powerful Guise family in France, became queen consort of Scotland when she married James V, and was the mother to Mary Stuart. There has been much less scholarship produced on Mary of Guise than on a number of early modern queens, hence the value of Pamela Ritchie‘s work, which reassesses Mary of Guise’s role in Scottish history in a series of thematic chapters. In the 1550s Mary of Guise was the effective ruler of Scotland. As a woman, a foreigner and a Catholic, Mary faced serious problems exacerbated by the hostility of the Protestant English. Yet she managed to protect her daughter and achieve a measure of stability. Richie’s work…

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