Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow Scottish Water project uncovers medieval castle

Partick Castle dig Image copyright SNS

The remains of two castles, one of them up to 800 years old, have been discovered in Glasgow.

They came to light during a £250m project by Scottish Water to upgrade the city's waste water infrastructure.

The structures are thought to include a 12th or 13th Century castle used by the bishops of Glasgow, as well as the later Partick Castle.

The find has been described as the most significant piece of archaeology in the city "for a generation".

The features uncovered include ditches, a well and several stone walls.

There had been documentary evidence of the 17th Century Partick Castle. It was thought to have been on the site of the earlier castle used by bishops in what was then rural Partick.

Experts say this is "the first hard, tangible evidence" that either castle existed.

Image copyright Mitchell Library, Special Collections
Image caption Partick Castle is thought to have been on the site of an earlier castle used by bishops
Image copyright SNS
Image caption Careful digging has uncovered firm evidence of the castle mentioned in old documents
Image copyright GUARD Archaeology
Image caption A variety of items survived under generations of industrial use on the site

The discoveries were made in the Castlebank Street area north of the Clyde, where Scottish Water have been preparing to install a combined sewer overflow (CSO).

Hugh McBrien, of West of Scotland Archaeology Service, said: "No-one knew anything about the 12th century castle in Partick. There was documentary evidence that the bishops of Glasgow spent time in Partick and there have been historical references to 'charters signed at Partick'. But that's all.

"It has been known that there was a tower house or castle in the 17th century but all we had were antiquarian drawings and documents that refer to Partick Castle."

He added: "This is the most significant archaeological discovery in Glasgow in a generation."

Archaeological work was carried out on the site on behalf of Scottish Water by Guard Archaeology.

Destructive development

Project manager Warren Bailie said: "These findings made during Scottish Water's work are of national significance and provide a rare glimpse into the medieval beginnings of Partick and Glasgow.

"The survival of these medieval remains is especially remarkable given that the site, not unlike many industrial river banks across Britain, has witnessed such large-scale destructive development over the centuries."

The remains of the castles and artefacts have lain under ground which has been used as an engine works, an industrial laundry, the old Partick Central Railway Station, a metal scrapyard and a foundry.

Archaeologists have been able to recover fragments of pottery, metalwork, leather, glass and animal bones.

Scottish Water environmental advisor Simon Brassey said: "The history of the area in this part of Partick, where Scottish Water needs to replace our existing CSO, is documented on old maps but it is only when the ground is opened up that you can fully understand what has survived 19th century industrialisation.

"As part of the project planning, Scottish Water identified the possibility of archaeology and so factored in time for the area to be pre-excavated.

"However, the discoveries are much more exciting than we had expected and we are delighted that, with the archaeologists' help and expertise, we have been able to uncover something of such importance."

Image copyright SNS
Image caption A well and stone walls have been revealed near the centre of Partick in Glasgow

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