Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Govan Old Parish Church

Govan is not far away, but I had never been there until I went the day before Easter. I thought it would be a nice Eastery sort of thing to do, to visit an old church, and learn of it's ancient history.

The current building is not that old (1880s). But it was built on a site that has seen either 4 to 6 other churches (it is a matter of some dispute) since the 6th century. What makes this spot in Govan so unique is that it is home to a large collection of early Christian cross-slabs and hogback tombs (a Viking-style tombstone). It is quite unusual for such a concentration of them to be found in one place. The cross slabs and tombs date from the 9th to 11th centuries.
Just outside the church. You know how WW1 memorials always catch my eye!

The Church

One of the cross slabs. The initials were added later - 17th century.

I forgot to mention that the church is full of beautiful stained glass. These were installed in 1891, and they were all ordered by the minister at the time. On one side of the church they are Old Testament, on the other they are New Testament.

And now, back to the cross-slabs. My guide told me that this is indicative of the Govan style, with the 'intestinal'  carvings, and the edge that looks like a pie crust. 

A panel on the 'sarcophagus'
And another panel.

A close-up of the snake panel. According to my guide, snakes weren't always the baddies they've become, but were once a symbol of re-birth.

There's a fine figure of a man on his horse. I think! 

The hogback tombstones.

A very unusual stone, called the 'Sun stone'. Again, we see the snakes coming out of the boss in the middle (at least, I think they're snakes!) 

All hogback tombs have an animal at the end - usually a bear. This one is unusual, in that it has two animals with their legs crossing, and their mouths together. My guide didn't tell me what animals they are, though. I think they look like sheep!

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous place!!! The sun stone is my favorite!