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Beginnings: Early times to 1560

Trade and Communications


By Stephen T Driscoll

The principal road in medieval Glasgow ran from the ford over the River Clyde to the Cathedral (the High Street and Saltmarket). The burgh marketplace was located at Glasgow Cross where it intersected with the Gallowgate and Trongate. The width of the road here was to accommodate the market stalls and the name Trongate takes its name from the public weigh beam located in front of the Tolbooth. The other main crossroads was located just to the south of the cathedral where Rotton Row and Drygate came together.

Initially these two sets of crossroads were the focal points of two distinct concentrations of settlement with the ecclesiastical community being located near to the Cathedral and separated from the commercial settlement at the market cross. The east-west roads were part of long-distance road networks which linked Glasgow to Dumbarton, Lanark and Edinburgh. Access into the burgh was regulated by seven ports or gates, which were located at the ends of the major streets.

The construction of a bridge across the Clyde in the 13th century led to the first major modification to this simple layout. The Briggate connected with the new bridge at what is now Stockwell Street. In addition to promoting the development of the burgh around the bridge end, it also encouraged the growth of a small settlement on the south bank at the Gorbals. In addition to the main street, numerous winds and lanes developed as the burgh grew, most of which have been lost through redevelopment.

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