St Conval’s to All Hallows: Over 1400 years and counting
On 18th March 2017 Inchinnan Historical Interest Group (IHIG) officially launched their archaeological investigation of All Hallows, Inchinnan. The project will involve geophysics, historical research, workshops, archaeology, model making, photogrammetry, Reflective Transformation Imaging (RTI), music and film making.
Bill McCallum of IHIG gave a brief introduction as to how the group decided to undertake the project, and how they had “arrived” at today’s launch, the following being a resume: –
IHIG consulted 6 archaeological organisations and decided on Northlight Heritage. Dr Heather James will be in charge of the dig. Permission had to be sought from four landowners, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and Glasgow airport, all of which took two full years. Funding was also sought resulting in nine bodies contributing.
Little of the original church remains above ground. A cycle track is to be built along the side of the site which may cause some disruption and possibly destruction of archaeological remains. Added to that, the nearby river is tidal and the site sometimes floods so the project is not without its challenges.
There are 8 sub-projects within the main project.
- 1400 years at All Hallows: Archaeological investigation outside the graveyard area.
- The graveyard: Archaeological investigation inside the graveyard area.
- Schools and archaeology
- Model making (Primary Schools)
- Ancient Stones (Secondary Schools) – includes RTI scanning and photogrammetry
- Medieval Research – why here, who came, pilgrim’s way, language, music?
- Community Involvement eg using RTI technology to “read” very worn gravestones, tie in with censu returns etc
- 8. Schools Legacy Project, including Education Pack
Volunteers will be most welcome for many other activities as well as the actual dig. Also, information from anyone who has memories /family lore/memorabilia to do with the site will be gratefully received.
Dr John Raven; Historic Environment ScotlandDr Raven has assisted the group from the start. He gave a brief history of HES and discussed the broad range of scheduled monuments, which constitute only a small proportion of recognised archaeological sites.
Dr Sally Foster; Lecturer in Heritage and Conservation, Stirling University
Dr Foster briefly discussed the medieval stones found on the All Hallows site, including the recumbent stones and a cross slab which were removed to Inchinnan Church. Recumbents tend to be associated with Royal centres, such as Govan or Partick, and Dr Foster is keen to explore this further. Crosses may have been used to mark boundaries? Or were they intended for display inside buildings? Little is known about the development of the church before the 11th Century. There would probably have been agricultural cultivation and metalwork taking place nearby to service the church so the area of interest is much larger than the church itself.
Dr Foster recommended this website for further information about carved stones – http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/content/future-thinking-carved-stones-scotland
Dr Heather James; Northlight Heritage
Dr James explained that there is a lot we think we know. For example, St Conval came here from Ireland in the 6th Century and is alleged to have sailed over on a rock now sited near the Normandy Hotel (St Conval’s Chariot). Beside it is another stone known as The Argyll Stone. The original site of these stones is unknown. Some the stones associated with the site appear to have been broken up – why? The earlychurch on the site was a Knights Templar church – what special associations did it have for them? The original church foundations are thought to date from around 1100. That church was demolished in 1828. Roy’s Military Map 1752-55 shows a manse and other buildings around the church. Perhaps it was a monastic sanctuary with stone crosses marking the boundaries?
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an airborne mapping technique which has revealed the Ferrycroft farmhouse, Ladyacre, the church and manse. A geophysical survey should show anomalies worthy of an archaeological dig. At the moment permission has not been given to dig in all areas of the site. The dig is proposed to take place over 5 weeks in May and June and will include an Open Day. Volunteers and schoolchildren will be involved. Every effort will be made not to disturb the burials. IHIG have already been recording the gravestones.
The aims of the dig are to discover more about St Conval, the stones, the development of the church and the surrounding village. There will then be post-excavation work to analyse and disseminate the results – a conference, a booklet, an education pack and eventually full publication.
All Hallows is the only church in the area given by David I to the Knights Templar; the others were given to Paisley Abbey.
Liz Gardiner and Louisa Taylor, Fablevision
Fablevison is a charity which works with local communities through creative cultural development. They will document the progress of the All Hallows Project with help from Louisa who is Creative Manager of Fablevision Studios, which is a social enterprise company delivering video productions, editing and event management. They work with local groups and are involved in the creation of tourist trails such as the proposed cycle track.
Katie Firth; freelance archaeologist specialising in school and community engagement
Katie spoke about how she works with children and communities, showing some examples of previous projects. She helps to foster a sense of identity and encourage local people to protect their heritage for the future.
Clara Sanchez; Spectrum Heritage
Spectrum Heritage are a team of professionals dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage using innovative digital techniques while also encouraging community engagement. They train local volunteers and children how to use the technology and become involved in preservation of their local heritage. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) is a photographic technique which is good for revealing degraded inscriptions on stone. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. Items are photographed from many angles and with the use of appropriate software a 3d model can be created. In preparation for the project Clara Sanchez of Spectrum Heritage recently trained IHIG members in the use of RTI equipment.
Gilbert Markus; Glasgow University, Dept of Celtic and Gaelic
Gilbert’s speciality is historical research and he plans to investigate areas such as the cult of Conval, place names, a possible earlier saint (Finnian), the political context, historical records of the church and the Knights Templar. There is little information about Conval himself; it is easier to research his cult and how he was remembered.