August 10, 2011
A thousand years ago, Strathclyde was a kingdom in its own right and Govan was home to its kings. The palace sat on the north side of the river while their church and parliament were sited to the south. This historical split is the reason that Govan is the only parish in the UK that extends across a river. The launch of a new ferry service and the opening of the Riverside Museum was an ideal opportunity to reclaim some long lost connections
A couple of weeks ago a raid was staged across the river in celebration of the reuniting of the Parish of Govan with the new ferry service across the Clyde. Upwards of 100 local children and adults have made special costumes and are ready to stake their claim to the territory occupied by the new Riverside Museum.
Govan is unique in the UK in having a parish boundary that extends across a river….this link goes way back in history to a time when Govan was home to the Kings of the Kingdom of Strathclyde in the 7 & 8th centuries. This royal court had their palace on the ‘Partick’ side of the river and their church and parliament* on the Southside.
Two sets of flags have been created for the Raid, one has images from Govan’s history while the other depicts details of the area today. One set of flags will be planted on the Southside before crossing the Clyde to plant the second set outside the new Riverside Museum. The raiders will then repatriate important Govan artefacts from the Riverside Museum.
The river was crossed on the new Govan ferry and was accompanied by a traditional Birlinn (built and rowed by the GalGael Trust) and the river boat operated by Strathclyde Fire Brigade.
Govan Old Church still occupies the site of this ancient church and the world-famous sculptured stones, (visible in the present-day church) date from this 10 & 11th centuries. Until 1850 a massive flat-topped hill called Doomster Hill stood near the church – this was the site of the parliament and court of justice of the Strathclyde kings. Today the Riverside housing scheme sits on the site of Doomster Hill.
In May 2011 public artist Matt Baker was commissioned by GHA to work with the Riverside community in Govan. The Govan Raid is the first in a series of temporary and permanent artworks to grow from this project. For more information click here
The Govan Raid was supported by Glasgow Housing Association and carried out by:
Govan Youth Programme
Strathclyde Fire Brigade