Scotland - Founders of Modern World Football

Archaeology at Hampden

In June and September 2021, Archaeology Scotland (AS) did a dig at the site of the First Hampden Park. Both digs identified the site of the Pavilion. This was the one which had been bought from the Caledonian Cricket Club at Burnbank. AS proved that the foundations were there and that the pitch was below the current level of the bowling green and Kingsley Gardens. Tam McNab was there, filming for his documentary. A stream of interested football fans came to both digs. The excitement was palpable. Football was a subject for serious study.

AS have taken away a wealth of data. They will spend months, considering their finds and making sense of it, for the benefit of every football fan in the word. This is THE football ground. All football stadiums in the world can trace their heritage back to this site.

Sometimes it is the small things which excite. This is the stem of a clay pipe. It was made by J. Agnew: one of the Glasgow manufacturers who could produce 14,000 a day. Pipes have been found all around the world. This one was thrown down by a player or fan at Hampden, 140 years ago.

Stem of Clay Pipe from Hampden Dig 24 Sept 2021

This is the Pavilion trench. You are looking at a trench which has more questions than answers. Ingrid Shearer is documenting the trench. Behind her is a large boulder. Is it part of the foundations? You can see a range of stones and bricks on the floor of the trench. The Pavilion was wood, on a stone base.

Tennis historians can get excited at the row of bricks in the trench. These were laid in the 1900s, when the tennis courts were built. They are one of the layers needed for a court. Bricks cut in two and precisely laid down. The bricks were clearly repurposed from another building. Recycling by the Victorians? We await the conclusions to be drawn by AS.

The bricks are from the 1880s. I could put two and two together and recall that the
Second Hampden was being demolished at the time this tennis court was being built.

Ingrid Shearer Documenting the Pavilion Trench 26 Sept 2021 Hampden Dig

These are exciting times, ladies and gentlemen. I hope and pray that AS can return to the first and second Hampdens, to continue their extraordinary work.

Hampden Dig 26 Sept 2021

Giving History a Sporting Chance