Glasgow Cathedral’s elevated choir, dark crypt, bright Blacader aisle and spacious nave remind the visitor of the clergy, tradesmen, pilgrims and layfolk who have used it since its foundation by St Kentigern before 600. Among the pilgrims to visit the crypt with the saint’s relics was King David I who re-established the diocese between 1114 and 1118.
St Kentigern’s symbols on the lamp posts outside the cathedral and in the stained glass windows – a tree, bell, bird and a fish with a ring in its mouth – now form the arms of Glasgow. The story goes that Kentigern’s monks caught the fish that had swallowed the ring given by the unfaithful Queen Languueth to her lover.
Some of the windows are out of the ordinary. In the whitewashed 13th‑century Blacader aisle, named after Archbishop Blacader who oversaw its vaulting around 1500, the small triangular windows visualise some of the major events in Christ’s life remarkably clearly. On the south side of the aisle the story is told in miniature panels.
The south-facing windows in the choir commemorate the 14 Incorporated Trades of Glasgow, displaying the tools of the coopers, gardeners, and bonnet-makers. Glasgow trades provided the clergy with the money to pay for the cathedral’s major extensions in the 13th and 14th century.
According to tradition, a small group of Protestant protesters tried to attack Glasgow Cathedral during the Reformation, but the inhabitants of the city surrounded the church and saved the building.
Don’t miss: the stained glass window of St Kentigern in the chapter house.