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The Rising Burgh: 1560 to 1770s

Buildings and Cityscape

Sports Venues

By David Hamilton

With the fundamentalists in charge after the Reformation, hostility existed to all sport and particularly to Sunday play. Public holidays, notably New Year, Fastern E'en, Whitsunday, Lammas and Martinmas, the traditional time for sport, were no longer occasions for sport. But from the mid-1600s, Church prohibitions on Sunday sport or rebukes are difficult to find. Games were tolerated and they evolved, becoming more civilised and more organised. There was a new idea that recreation was health-giving. Play prospered in defined areas rather than using any open space, notably in the busier streets now lined with windowed buildings.

The orderly attitudes of the Enlightenment encouraged written rules for sport. Prize fighting, though rare in Scotland, was stopped by the authorities if possible and blood sports were not common. Shinty disappeared from Lowland Scotland. The new roads to the town encouraged extended corridor games, notably competitive throwing of "bullets" along these routes. In Glasgow, a commercial "caitchpoole" opened near the Gallowgate and gave sophistication to the ancient hand-and-ball wall game. There were formal butts for archery at the Gallowmuir. The bowlers, developing a more skilled game with biased bowls instead of the rough alley game, sought a flatter, better surface on Glasgow Green near the golfers. Later, the Glasgow Golf Club appeared, one of many sociable, elite societies in the town. For sports spectators and punters, rowdy horse racing meetings increased, starting with the early Glasgow "Bell Race" from 1606 and Paisley Races were to be a major public event later.

Towards the end of this period industrialisation was to eliminate winter rest and recreation and move the time for sport and holidays to summer instead. This encouraged fair weather sport such as cricket. A new work ethic, somewhat hostile to public sport, was also to emerge.

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