LAST week we saw how King David I directly intervened in Glasgow’s history as part of his project to reform the Christian church in Scotland by creating dioceses, one of which was Glasgow.

Tradition has it that David, later acclaimed as a saint by the people of Scotland, yet never formally canonised unlike his mother St Margaret, attended the consecration of a stone church on the site of the current Cathedral in 1136 when he also gave Bishop John, his former tutor, an income from lands all around Glasgow, but not in Rutherglen, which David had made a burgh in 1126.

The ancient records show that David gave the diocese lands in “Perthec” and “Guvan”, which we know as Partick and Govan. The latter place, as we have seen, had been very important in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, and from around the 6th century there was a church there that greatly pre-dated Glasgow, dedicated to St Constantine, whose shrine it became.

The famous Govan Stones including the Sarcophagus can be seen in Govan Old Church which stands on the site of a church that pre-dated even Mungo’s arrival in Glasgow – in the 1990s archaeologists discovered evidence of burials on the site dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries.

The Govan Stones mainly date from the 9th and 10th centuries and are adequate proof that Govan, not Glasgow, was the centre of Christianity in west central Scotland up until Bishop John’s time.

The Stones are beautifully preserved and explained in the Old Church and are a fantastic asset for the city of Glasgow and should be much better known – a visit to the Old Church is highly recommended for any serious student of Glasgow history.

We know very little for certain about much of 12th century Glasgow but Bishop John and his immediate successors completed the church which was dedicated to St Kentigern or Mungo and which contained his relics.

Such a major stone building was probably unheard of in the Glasgow area and naturally it came to command the fledgling town.

The nearest major building was probably Renfrew Castle which was erected in the middle of the 12th century by Walter fitz Alan, a loyal knight of King David’s who was given extensive lands and who was also the first hereditary Steward of Scotland who in 1163 founded the Priory which became Paisley Abbey.

There has been considerable discussion over the years about the influence of Vikings on the west of Scotland from the 9th century onwards, but there is no doubt that Vikings raiding from their territories in Shetland and Orkney, the Hebrides and Ireland all made incursions into the West Coast, occupying parts of Argyll, Arran, Bute and forming an alliance with the rulers of Galloway which had stubbornly resisted being subsumed into the Scottish kingdom.

When Henry, the son of King David, died in 1152, his son Malcolm became heir to the throne and the following year he duly became king on the death of David. He was just 12 and suffered a series of revolts against his rule throughout his teenaged years, mostly by Mormaers, the equivalent of earls, including some from his own family. Only Donnchad (Duncan) the Mormaer of Fife seems to have been a wholly loyal regent and he died in 1154, a year after young Malcolm was crowned at Scone.

Malcolm does seem to have had some competent regents and advisors including Walter fitz Alan. Malcolm comes down to us as Malcolm the Maiden, called so because he never married, but in reality he was a brave if sickly young man who personally led the expedition to pacify Galloway and bring it under his control.

In 1164 Glasgow and indeed the Kingdom of Scotland faced its greatest threat in the person of Somerled, the King of the Isles.

This legendary warrior of Norse-Gaelic descent had already raided Glasgow and may have burned its church, but in 1164 his ambitions were much greater as shown by the size of the army with which he arrived on the Clyde, all transported in birlinns, ships that gave him complete control of the west coast of Scotland.

Ancient sources such as the Chronicles of Holyrood and Melrose and the famous Latin poem the Song of the Death of Somerled tell us what happened next. The latter text says the King of the Isles “suddenly landed with an immense company of followers, and threatened to destroy the whole kingdom.”

He reckoned without Walter fitz Alan and the Bishop of Glasgow, Herbert of Selkirk, who rallied the local troops in preparation for the invasion.

There’s a great deal of myth and legend about the Battle of Renfrew, but there’s no doubt that in October, 1164, Somerled and his son Gilla Brigte or Gilla Colum were both killed and their forces scattered and pursued ruthlessly.

The Song of the Death of Somerled states: ‘Wounded by a spear, killed by a sword, Somerled died; His son was consumed by the raging sea, and with him many thousands of escaping wounded.’

Glasgow was saved, but Bishop Herbert died that year – intriguingly, he died around the time of the Battle so was he mortally wounded? – and after Bishop Enguerrand there came the era of Bishop Jocelin who was determined to make Glasgow a burgh and build it up as a diocesan centre. Hence the building of Glasgow Cathedral.

Jocelin enlarged the existing stone church dedicated to

St Kentigern but sometime in 1195 the church was ravaged by a fire. Jocelin decided to go the whole hog and build a proper Cathedral which was dedicated in July 1197.

Jocelin did much more for Glasgow. From King William the Lion sometime between 1175 and 1178 he obtained burgh status for Glasgow, greatly advancing the standing of the town as he also created a weekly market – the first such burgh market in Scotland.

Of great import to the people of Glasgow, then and now, Jocelin sometime in the early 1190s persuaded King William to allow Glasgow an annual fair, and to this day the Glasgow Fair is still a holiday time.

Having made Glasgow a burgh and built its Cathedral, Jocelin died on March 17, 1199.

That Glasgow would eventually become a city is in no short measure due to him.