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Canal College participants help uncover our football heritage

15 June 2021

Three of our Canal College team and eight participants took part in an exciting excavation near Hampden Stadium during June.

Taking a break from stone carving in Bowling, some craft cyanotype printing and a one day archaeology building recording session at the Denny Tank Museum in Dumbarton, members of the West Dunbartonshire Canal College group aimed to uncover the world’s first international football stadium as part of an excavation organised by Archaeology Scotland in partnership with Hampden Bowling Club.

Canal College participants undertake a wide range of practical projects helping conserve and enhance the built, natural and cultural heritage alongside three of Scotland's 200-year-old canals: the Forth & Clyde, Union and Caledonian canal.  Many of the projects support the work of Archaeology Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland leading to this great opportunity searching for the original Hampden.

The original Hampden Park was the world’s first purpose build international football stadium, after being opened in 1873. It was home to Queens Park FC and the Scottish national team before being closed in 1884 to make way for the build of the Cathcart Circle Railway line.

The exact location of the former stadium had been lost over the years but was rediscovered in 2017 by a member of Hampden Bowling Club, who located the site through an old railway map which confirmed its location.

The discovery allowed a team at Archaeology Scotland to formulate plans to carry out archaeological investigations – including geophysical surveys and excavations - to discover anything which may have survived below ground.

Most of the work is being carried out by professionals, but the Canal College participants, alongside individuals from refugee and migrant backgrounds have also be recruited in a bid to teach new skills and help cross generational learning and community building.

The work that they do on site over four days in June will support participants to progress with the SQA Make and Maintain Conservation Records module.

You can read more about the project on The First Hampden Project website.

In coming weeks the Canal College group will undertake further archaeological excavation, investigation and recording at Hampden, two days of dry stane dyking near Loch Humphrey in the Old Kilpatrick Hills, and some maintenance work along the canal all helping the group towards completing SQA qualifications along the way. 

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