IT WAS once a country retreat for the powerful medieval bishops of Glasgow, before all traces of it were thought to have been swept away by the building of a Victorian railway station.
Now physical remains of the legendary Partick Castle have been uncovered for the first time by construction workers carrying out improvements to the city’s waste water infrastructure.
The ruins are thought to be of two separate tower houses, one at least 800 years old, that stood on a site by the River Kelvin, close to the present day Partick railway station in the west end of Glasgow.
Archaeologists are describing the discovery as the most historically significant in the city for a generation.
The first structure, dating back to the 12th or 13th century, is likely to be the base of a bishop’s castle. There is documentary evidence that charters were signed in Partick in medieval times, but until now there was no proof of where such a building stood.
The second ruin is believed to be a later Partick Castle built in 1611 for George Hutcheson, a wealthy Glasgow merchant and benefactor. Historians writing in the 19th century suggested the structure was abandoned by 1770 and most of its stone was reused by locals.
Experts from Guard Archaeology, who were hired by Scottish Water, were able to recover fragments of pottery, metalwork, leather, glass and animal bones.
The site of the castle was later cleared by the building of Partick Central station in the 1880s at a time when the area was rapidly industrialising.
Partick, once an independent burgh, was merged into Glasgow in 1912. The station closed in 1964 and was later occupied by a scrapyard. A new development of student housing is planned for the site.
Hugh McBrien, of West of Scotland Archaeology Service, said: “There was documentary evidence that the bishops of Glasgow spent time in Partick and there have been historical references to ‘charters signed at Partick’. But that’s all.
“It has been known that there was a tower house or castle in the 17th century but all we had were antiquarian drawings and documents that refer to Partick Castle.”
Scottish Water environmental advisor Simon Brassey said: “The history of the area in this part of Partick, where Scottish Water needs to replace our existing CSO, is documented on old maps but it is only when the ground is opened up that you can fully understand what has survived 19th century industrialisation.
“As part of the project planning, Scottish Water identified the possibility of archaeology and so factored in time for the area to be pre-excavated.
“However, the discoveries are much more exciting than we had expected and we are delighted that, with the archaeologists’ help and expertise, we have been able to uncover something of such importance.”