Glasgow’s Medieval Cathedral

Glasgow’s thirteenth-century cathedral is the city’s oldest building and one of Scotland’s top tourist destinations. Its unusual position on sloping ground resulted in an innovative two-tier design, and the forest of pillars surrounding the tomb of Saint Mungo in the lower church has been described as “a triumph of spatial subtlety with few equals of this period.”


Numerous guidebooks have been written over the years but, until recently, the most comprehensive study of the building’s history remained The Book of Glasgow Cathedral, published at the end of the nineteenth century by the historian and critic George Eyre-Todd (1862-1937). 


This was a lavishly produced and now highly collectable volume published in 1898 in a limited edition of 1000 copies, with a cover by the decorative artist and book designer Talwin Morris (1865-1911), a friend of the famous Scottish architect Charles Rennie Macintosh. Eyre-Todd called upon the best historians of his generation to contribute chapters on specific aspects of the cathedral’s history.

In the 125 years since the publication of The Book of Glasgow Cathedral, the furnishings and stained glass have been extensively renewed and much further historical research has been undertaken, including archaeological digs that have shed some light on what the earlier buildings on the site may have looked like.


It was the suggestion of the architectural historian Dr. James Macaulay, the late chairman of the Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral, that a new volume of historical essays should be published, combining essays and lectures by eminent historians of the past with new and hitherto unpublished research. 


The result is Where Mortal and Immortal Meet, edited by Dr. Andrew Ralston. Beginning with a chapter on the death of Saint Kentigern and ending with a study of worship and liturgy in the cathedral in the late nineteenth century, this important new volume contains contributions from distinguished authors such as G.W.S. Barrow, C.A. Raleigh Radford, E.L.G. Stones, Norman F. Shead, and many others.


Where Mortal and Immortal Meet, edited by Dr. Andrew Ralston (Wipf and Stock, 2021) is available from online book suppliers but can currently be purchased directly from the Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral for the discounted price of £15.99 (plus postage and packaging).


To order, contact:

All proceeds go to the Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral.


Dr. Andrew Ralston, a graduate of Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford, is a retired teacher who has published many educational and historical works. He is a member of the Council of the Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral.

Dr. Ralston contributed a short article on the history of Glasgow Cathedral - 'A stately edifice of large extent': Glasgow's Medieval Cathedral" - in issue 6 of Medieval World: Culture & Conflict (pp. 46-47).

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