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Beginnings: Early times to 1560

Everyday Life

Parks and Commons

By Norman F Shead

In medieval Glasgow barns, orchards and gardens abounded. The common land of the burgh, available only to freemen of the town, was divided into the terra campestris (flat, cultivatable land) and the terra communis (common land). The former was parcelled out in strips, known as rigs or roods, for cultivation. The most suitable area for tillage was along the line of the Trongait and it was subdivided into Langcroft, St Thenew's Croft and Broomielaw Croft. The growing corn was protected by two cowherds; they were presumably not new when first mentioned in 1574.

The terra communis was the open common land. The Old Green extended along the Clyde from roughly where St Enoch's Square is now to the area of Stockwell Street. This was the flood plain of the river and was of low quality as pasture where cattle could graze at certain times of the year and parts probably supplied hay for winter fodder. It was also a place of recreation; the main exercise may have been archery, hinted at by the name "butts". The main butts before 1559 were, however, on the Gallowmuir.

The Gallowmuir, divided by the Gallowgate into the Over and Nether Gallowmuir, lay to the east of the Cross and provided grass for pasture. In 1529, sixteen acres of the Gallowmuir were granted to the Collegiate Church and, in the 1550s, feuing of small parcels of land on it in return for an annual payment began. North of the cathedral area were the Easter and Wester Commons, joined by a narrow neck of land running east-west. They provided poorer quality pasture and were the main source of timber and fuel.

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