Over the last couple of years, a programme of archaeological monitoring has taken place during works to upgrade the floodlights at Glasgow Cathedral. This work, conducted by Rebecca Shaw of Rebecca Shaw Archaeological Services, involved the removal of topsoil at each of the existing floodlight locations, and then monitoring of the removal of the existing concrete bases as well as the excavation of the various cable trenches between the floodlights, to ensure that any archaeological material present was identified and recorded. A similar prorgamme of monitoring was conducted by SUAT in 1992, during the original floodlighting programme.
During the course of the monitoring works, a quantity of disarticulated human remains were recovered. These burials had already been disturbed, either by later burials having been cut through earlier graves, or as a result of construction works in the area adjacent to the Cathedral associated with the provision of drainage, electricity or landscaping. It's possible that some of the disarticulated bones may relate to illicit burials adjacent to the walls of the Cathedral, caused by people burying their loved ones under cover of darkness, marking their resting place by carving the initials of the deceased onto the Cathedral wall (some examples of which are still evident today). As these burials were commonly in the ground immediately adjacent to the cathedral, and were not well marked or recorded, they could easily be disturbed at a later date, as their existence was not always known.
Historical records note that although Glasgow Cathedral was damaged at the height of the Reformation, the building itself remained fairly intact, though more easily portable objects, such as altars and effigys, did suffer some damage. The two pieces of white marble, carved with leaves and foliage and shown in the picture above, were found in two separate trenches during the course of monitoring works. It is speculated that these may represent sections of a mini-alter that was removed during this period.