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Archaeology Notes

Event ID 704375

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


NS66NW 8.00 6015 6559

(NS 6015 6559) Site of (NAT) The Bishop's Palace (NR) AD 1430.

OS 1:500 plan, Glasgow, (1856)

NS66NW 8.01 NS 601 655 Well

The Castle and Palace of the Bishops of Glasgow stood on the W of the Cathedral, covering much of Cathedral Square (Radford 1970). It was built on an unknown date prior to 1258 when it first appears in charters (not 1430 as alleged in the Ordnance Survey Name Book [ONB] 1856). It was enlarged by Bishop Cameron in the 15th century and a tower was added by Archbishop Beton. The gate-house was built by Archbishop Dunbar in 1544. It was in ruins in 1750 and removed in 1789 to make way for the Royal Infirmary. Though nothing of it can now be seen (Renick and Lindsay 1921), Macgeorge notes that a heraldic stone from it, and an oak panel, are in the possession of Glasgow Archaeol Soc.

Name Book 1856; A Macgeorge 1880; R Renick and J Lindsay 1921; Glasgow Evening News 1935; C A R Radford 1970; Visited by OS (W M J) 25 September 1951.

Excavations at the site of the Bishop's Castle recovered fragments of walling together with associated late medieval pottery. The ditch observed in 1853 was located and may eventually prove to date to the 13th or even 12th century. Complete excavation of the site is contemplated.

E J Talbot 1971.

This castle was in ruins by the middle of the 16th century. Archbishop Spottiswoode ordered its restoration in 1611, but when Daniel Defoe visited the town in 1689 he found the building derelict. Having been used as a quarry since 1755, the site was cleared in 1789 to make way for the Royal Infirmary. A stone marking the site can be seen in the ground of the infirmary, and a team from Glasgow University is hoping to continue their excavation of the remains.

P McDonald 1979.

Between December 1986 and March 1987 SUAT undertook the first phase of a three phase excavation programme on the site of the Bishop's Castle. In the SW portion of the site the remains of the corner tower and curtain wall built for Archbishop James Beaton (1508-22) were excavated. Surviving to a maximum of four courses the walls were built of well-dressed ashlars among the roughly shaped building stone, including one with a mason's mark in the form of a stylised fish. Rubble infill had occasionally been used in the walls. The tower and curtain wall were apparently of one build.

The N wall of the tower was cut by a 19th century egg-shaped brick sewer running SW and lying nearly parallel to and cutting a wall which had a mortared rubble core and was faced with sandstone blocks set on edge. A small kerb lay along the undamaged face of this wall. E of the tower was a linear rubble feature poorly constructed and surviving to one course. E of this feature was a silted-up drain built of sandstone slabs and containing post-medieval green glazed earthenware and organic material. Two drains of similar construction were found in the NE portion of the site. 13th/14th century green glazed earthenware found on the site included sherds decorated with applied linear strips and stamps. Post-medieval green glazed earthenware was also recovered and later features yielded considerable quantities of 19th century pottery.

M Clarke and M Thomson 1987.

A study of the Bishop of Moray's castle of Spynie has pointed to similarities between it and Glasgow. Examination of other sources has documented two periods of building activity which have escaped previous notice. The first involves repairs and alterations carried out by the Duke and Dutchess of Lennox after 1598; the second work undertaken by Archbishop Ross between 1680 and 1686. In addition, Robert Thomson played a role in the destruction of the castle from 1715 onwards.

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