Sunday, January 8, 2012

Map of the Week 1-9-2012:Old Glasgow, Scotland

Old Glasgow Map, 1878. 
            Glasgow - my new home - long known as the “Second City of the Empire.”  I love the names of the streets around here – “Saltmarket;” “Parsonage Square;” “Blackfriars Court;” “Ropework Lane;” and the mysteriously named “Goosedubbs” and “Spoutmouth” - evidence of a rich mediaeval history and centuries’ worth of settlement and occupational identification with specific locations of the city.  And then when trans-Atlantic shipping became the mainstay of the Glaswegian economy, names such as Virginia Street and Jamaica Street reflected where the trading ships were headed. Click on the map and zoom in to see some of the incredible detail. 
This map is a Victorian representation of the secular part of the city in 1547, created from original records by Sir James Marwick who was Town Clerk of Glasgow from 1873 to 1903.  The detail shows the Trongate area.  This is in what is now called the Merchant City section of Glasgow, “tron” being a corruption of “trone,” an Old French word for scales.  The weighing station for the market was located here.  In the 18th century, Merchant City became the most desirable place for the new captains of industry to build their grand residences and warehouses.  Many of these buildings still stand today, testament to the large amounts of money made by the "tobacco lords," who profited from the trade in shipping tobacco, sugar, and tea. The buildings are now home to the gentrifying classes of Glasgow. 
“Glasgow Cross in pre-Reformation times was known as Mercat Cross.  Argyle Street and Trongate are shown in the map as ‘St Tenus Gait or Tronegait.’ ‘Gait’ is an old Scots word meaning ‘the way to.’  St Tenus Well was situated at the western end of St Tenus Gait at what is now St Enoch Square.  The eastern end of Tronegait, at the Mercat Cross, was the site of the ‘Trone’ used for weighing goods brought to market.  Saltmarket, where the fish curers operated was known at this time as ‘Walkergait.’  The trade carried out by the waulkers was cloth bleaching.  ‘Stockwellgait’ was known earlier as ‘Fishergait.’  The fishermen who worked there got water supplies from a ‘stock’ or wooden well which gave its name to the street.” From:

This study, published in 1844, relates to the fever epidemic which struck the city in the previous year.  Written by Robert Perry (President of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, and Senior Physician to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary), it uses local medical reports, statistical tables and a color-coded map of the city to highlight the link between poor sanitation, poverty, and poor health.  It is an excellent example of early thematic mapping, and pre-dates both Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps of London (1886-1903), and John Snow’s cholera maps of Soho, London (1854).  Perry’s map, with different neighborhood areas colored differently to designate the severity of the epidemic, made it obvious that the effects of the epidemic were not distributed evenly throughout the city, but disproportionately affected the poorest, most densely settled areas, where as many as 20% of the population had succumbed to the disease.  See more on Robert Perry and the 1843 fever epidemic at
Detail of Robert Perry's map - Three of the districts most seriously affected by the epidemic, bordered by Stockwell Street, Bridgegate Street, Trongate, and Saltmarket.  Near where I now live!  The dots represent the locations of fever victims.

 This map shows the area bounded by the Old College of the University of Glasgow and the River Clyde, Stockwell Street and Glasgow Green in 1764.  Many streets, closes, and markets are named.  It is believed to have been produced by surveyor James Barrie for the Town Council and is the earliest surviving map on a detailed scale.  Several versions of the map have appeared in various publications over the years.
The map arose from a court action.  The Town Council had received complaints about the state of the Molendinar Burn and the dam at the sawmill belonging to timber merchant William Fleming.  The magistrates revoked the lease for the sawmill and ground in 1764 and had the mill demolished, and Fleming sued the Town Council for his losses.  The final judgement in the court case was made in 1768, when the Council was ordered to pay substantial damages to the timber merchant.  Maps being used in a nuisance land use case! The aggrieved landowner and pollution-maker winning! Some things never change! 
Saint Mungo, patron saint and founder of Glasgow (died 614 AD). He is shown with symbols of his various miracles – the robin, the tree, the bell, and the fish with a ring in its mouth.  St. Mungo and his symbols all appear in Glasgow’s Coat of Arms. He is revered in the Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and his feast day is January 13th. You may be familiar with St. Mungo from the Harry Potter book series, which featured the fictional "St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries."


  1. Fascinating stuff. St. Tenu (St. Tenus Well) is also written as St. Thenew. These days it is written as St. Enoch. Spellings change, but the name remains. Great blog, loads of info. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, David. I will have to look up St. Thenew. I never heard of him, and can't work out how it transformed itself into St. Enoch - although I lived near the St. Enoch center in Glasgow. And I just found out recently while reading a book on the life of Jesus of Nazareth ("Zealot") that there was an apocryphal Gospel of Enoch, written around the same time as the Gospel of Mark, but I don't know if that Enoch had anything to do with the Scottish Enoch.


  4. I thought that St Enoch was the mother of St Mungo?


  6. street was in Anderston