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Ramshorn Engravings, Ingram Street Glasgow

Granite. Based on history of Ramshorn Church and theatre.

For more information on the Merchant City Art Trail click here.


The compass refers to the church’s original situation on the North-west corner of the city. The words terras de Ramnishorene, and North West Parish refer to the earliest names for this district, dating back to the 13th Century.

The skeleton is holding coins and a chain – a reference to the graveyard adjacent to the church, but also to slavery and possibly the money earned by the ‘resurrectionists’ who stole bodies to sell for anatomical research.

The illustration of the retort is in reference to John Anderson – or Jolly Jack Phosphorus - Professor of Natural Philosophy and founder of the University of Strathclyde, who is buried in the church. The image is adapted from a book by a professor of chemistry printed in 1718 called Elementa chemicae. It shows the process of making the Philosopher’s Stone.  The ascending bird (which could be a lark or a dove) symbolizes the distillation of mercury.


The central grouping of the pavement engraving shows a circle of angels – a pattern derived from a stained glass window inside the church. Above it the skull of a ram reflects the building’s name, and below we see the church in previous and existing forms. On either side of the central motif stand two stylised trees, a Laburnum and a Yew, symbolic in themselves – the yew often associated with graveyards - but also referring to two trees which stood here long ago, but were removed in 1818 to widen the road. The candle below the yew tree refers to the ‘Caunnel Kirk’ established by David Dale, the philanthropist, who is buried in the Ramshorn. The book with the initials refers to the Foulis Press, which was founded in 1742 by the Foulis Brothers, both of whom are buried near the Ramshorn. The wheat beside the tree refers to the church and to the early rural nature of the land. Angels blow trumpets, or horns, around the top of the tree.Laburnums are sometimes called golden chain trees because of their chains of yellow flowers. The pavement tree symbolizes the link between the old and the new story of the building. To the left of the tree is a vine, referring to the church. To the right, a chain links it to modern times. More angels blow their trumpets around the crown of the tree. The Church Silhouettes represent the original church and the current one. St David’s was built in 1719-24 through public subscription. According to a contemporary report it was surrounded by orchards of cherry and apple trees, gooseberry and currant bushes, kail, leeks and herbs. Early in the nineteenth century, the church was demolished. Thomas Rickman, a Quaker from Maidenhead, was employed to design the new building in the Gothic style, completed in 1824.

The Circle of Angels is inspired by the circular stained glass window above the stairs to the Ramshorn. It shows a central angel flanked by five others, flying out in different directions.

To the right of the central grouping, the ladder with flame, light and clouds refers to a disaster in Cheapside Street, Anderston, in 1960. A warehouse exploded killing nineteen firemen. Some of the firemen were laid out in the Ramshorn before being taken in a burial procession to the Necropolis. The image is inspired by a picture from Utriusque Cosmi, a book by Robert Fludd printed in 1619.

To the right an audience watches the performance of a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which Titania, the queen of the mystical world is bewitched into loving a foolish mortal dressed as an ass. This is a reference to the building’s new role as a theatre.

The last motif on the right is a spiral of words referring to the date that the church became a theatre: 1992. It begins with two of the earliest productions by Strathclyde Theatre Group, founded in 1971 – Everyman and The Golden City.

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