Archaeology Scotland excavations at Cathkin Park in Glasgow have uncovered artefacts and architectural remains relating to the site’s history as a major football ground.
Previously used by Queen’s Park FC, who built the second Hampden Park there in 1884, the ground was re-established as New Cathkin Park in 1904 by Third Lanark, one of Scotland’s leading football clubs at the time. Third Lanark played at the site until their infamous collapse in 1967, and the pavilion and grandstand were later demolished, but significant terracing still survives in the open air.
Archaeology Scotland identified foundation material at the site in 2017, in a pilot investigation carried out as part of their football heritage project Playing the Past. ‘We were doing a lot of industrial archaeology, so we were digging up factories and houses and these kinds of things, and we thought: what are these people, who were living in these places and working in these places, doing in their spare time? Football emerged in the later part of the mid-19th century, so it’s linked with those wider social phenomena of the industrial archaeology that we’ve studied for decades and decades,’ Lead Archaeologist Dr Paul Murtagh told CA.
Archaeology Scotland (who excavated the original Hampden Park in 2021; see CA 382) returned to Cathkin Park this summer to run a field school alongside a strand of their New Audience Project – a widening participation initiative funded by Historic Environment Scotland.
This group went on to uncover the original floor surface of Third Lanark’s pavilion, including linoleum tiles in the club’s colours: red and white. Other finds included the foundations of the footballers’ bath, beer bottles, and fragments of china in the team’s colours of red and white. Some discoveries were more bittersweet, though: the team also unearthed a Golden Wonder crisp packet from 1967 (the year of Third Lanark’s demise), as well as a brick with red and white plaster on one side and spray-painted graffiti on the other.
For more about football archaeology, see Paul’s Current Archaeology Live! talk at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR_D6KTjrZ4.