Timesquare – Glasgow Cross

Tollbooth Steeple at Glasgow Cross

I haven’t got my blogging act together at the moment, so I’m just dropping in with another quick post for Becky’s timesquare challenge. I love the way the clock face matches the sky in this picture of the steeple at Glasgow Cross. This does not, unfortunately, reflect the weather today …

The Cross was the heart of the medieval city, the meeting place of five roads: High Street, Gallowgate, London Road, the Saltmarket and Trongate. Those roads are all still there, but Glasgow’s centre has moved west over the centuries and the only true remnant of the Cross’s former glory is the Tolbooth Steeple. Today, this sits alone on a traffic island, but when it was built in the 1620s it was part of a more extensive building. The Tolbooth had several uses, including as the seat of the Council until 1814 and, less pleasantly, as a place of public execution (hence Gallowgate). The rest of the Tolbooth was demolished in 1921.

There is a connection to the way Glaswegians like to think of themselves: gallus.

gallus (ga·luss). Dialect, chiefly Scot ~adj.
1. self-confident, daring, cheeky.
2. stylish, impressive (esp. Glasgow “He’s pure gallus, by the way”).
3. Orig. derogatory, meaning wild; a rascal; deserving to be hanged (from the gallows).

I’m sure most of us would prefer the middle definition!


  1. Hmm, reading your definitions of “gallus” leads me to wonder if the word “gall”” in the sense “he has the gall to do it” is related to it etymologically. I did a quick search of the meanings of gall and gallus, with no conclusive results.



  2. It’s a nice corner that. We haven’t really got much left of the old ancient Glasgow, I suppose because it was all dark alleys and slum vennels rather than Edinburgh’s quaint layout. Pity though as I always wonder what it would have looked like if they’d preserved some of the original ordinary streets rather than just the large public buildings dotted here and there.. Would certainly be tourist gold now.


  3. I’ve often wondered about some of these old structures like this clock tower that they seemed to be built ‘randomly’. It makes more sense that they were part of a much larger structure at some point in the past. While the rest of the building didn’t survive, I’m glad the clock tower did!