The history of Glasgow is vague and elusive. There are records of the area since just after 2000 BC. In the 6th century, it became a religious centre for Christians following Saint Mungo’s work in converting Scotland from paganism to Christianity in about 574 AD.
It was then given to the new diocese at Glasgow and there were suggestions that Glasgow was possibly founded by Saint Kentigern around this time, who is not now recognised as a saint but has been held up as Scotland’s first Christian missionary by traditionalists since the early 20th century. A later Saint Mungo of Glasgow was recognised as the founder of Glasgow in the 10th century and it became a centre of pilgrimage for Saint Mungo’s cult.
The Christian influence is still strong today; famous or infamous Scots include St Mungo, John Knox, Adam Smith, Robert Burns, William Wallace and Walter Scott. Today Glasgow is marked by spectacular architecture and wonderful green spaces, but it has also been marked by many of the disasters that befall any great city such as poverty and exploitation (the legacy of its mills), loss of industry, slums and dampness. The city has also slowly been regenerating itself in recent years, with a strong music scene, excellent museums and art galleries, and some of the best shopping to be had outside London.
Before the 1st century AD the area around Glasgow would have been occupied by the Brigantes, and there is evidence of the Roman presence in the area that forms Glasgow today. It is likely that there was a Roman town located at present-day Alderman’s Hill on the River Clyde not far from Glasgow Cross. Later on, in 1980 a find was made just to the south of Little Govan Road close to Queen’s Dock which appeared to be possibly an altar base or column from one of these structures.
A lot of Roman finds have been found along the Clyde, and they probably traded with the native Brigantes in what is now Glasgow. The Antonine Wall lies to the South of Glasgow and protected it from the barbarians to the north. In fact, much of Scotland was protected by Hadrian’s Wall from the northern tribes who regularly attacked and tried to invade Roman Britannia. Parts of this wall still survive at Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis.
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