ARCHAEOLOGISTS working on a site in Glasgow's South Side have confirmed they have located the first ever Hampden Park and home of the Scottish national side.

A team of experts had been painstakingly working on a site which is now home to Hampden Bowling Club and after months of work there is now evidence determining the heritage of the site.

The confirmation comes just weeks after the site was saved after Hampden Bowling Club members managed to elect a new committee and secure time to be able to carry out a structural report for repairs to the clubhouse. Had they been unable to elect a committee the lease would have been lost with the site reverting back to arms-length council organisation City Property.

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The exact location of the First Hampden had been lost over the years but was amazingly rediscovered in 2017, when Graeme Brown, Hampden Bowling Club Secretary at the time, discovered a railway map proving Hampden Bowling Club’s legendary tale.

The 1st Hampden Park opened on October 25, 1873 and was home to Queens Park FC and the Scotland national team until 1883. It closed due to the building of the Cathcart Circle Railway line.


The mural at Hampden Bowling Club, Glasgow, site of the original Hampden Park.

The mural at Hampden Bowling Club, Glasgow, site of the original Hampden Park.


First Hampden was constructed the year after the first international football match took place, played between Scotland and England at the West of Scotland Cricket ground, in Glasgow, in 1872.

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The archaeological discoveries made will help celebrate the 150th anniversary of this significant event, next year, helping to highlight the central role that Glasgow and Scotland played in the development of the global game.

Carrying out a geophysical survey, as well as excavating six trenches in the Queens Park Recreation Ground and Kingsley Gardens site, the archaeologists revealed evidence of the foundations of the first Hampden Park pavilion where the first players to play for Queens Park and Scotland would have got changed before matches and where the team officials would have sat.

They also found tantalising evidence of the original playing surface, sealed beneath over a century of earth and grass, as well as numerous artefacts dropped by the early supporters including beer bottles, juice bottles and clay pipes.

Lead Archaeologist Dr Paul Murtagh said: "The archaeological evidence that we have revealed allows us to say with certainty that this was the location of the world’s first football stadium. By finding the foundations of the first Hampden pavilion and tying this evidence in with the geophysical results, as well as the evidence we have from the historical map, we have been able to prove that this was the site of the First Hampden.”

"The artefacts that we have discovered offer us a real and tangible connection with those early football supporters, who watched some of Scotland’s and the world’s most import and formative football matches. Some of the most intriguing finds are a number of pieces of wire which may be part of the original fencing which ran around the outside of the pitch, which we have photographic evidence for. We are tempted to imagine the fans holding on to this wire, as the swigged their beer and smoked their pipes, cheering on Scotland as they beat the Auld Enemy, again and again.”


Ged OBrien at the archaeological dig site and his hand is on what is believed to be the foundations of the original pavilion.

Ged O'Brien at the archaeological dig site and his hand is on what is believed to be the foundations of the original pavilion.


Forming part of Archaeology Scotland’s New Audience Project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland, the team carried out work in the summer of 2021, and in September.

“This was an incredible opportunity for Archaeology Scotland to contribute to a project with real local, national and international significance, especially as it is the home of Scottish and arguably world football,” said Eila Macqueen, Director of Archaeology Scotland.

She added: “Our New Audience Project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland, is designed to engage audiences that would not normally have access to heritage or archaeology. In this instance, working in the south side of Glasgow we have been able to work with people from lots of different backgrounds, whether they have been born and brought up in the area or have just arrived. Over the course of the project we had volunteers from eleven different countries on site, helping them learn more about their new city, learn a bit about archaeology, practice their English and Glaswegian and making friends. The project has meant we have had loads of different important outcomes not just for archaeology, but for the volunteers as well as the local community.”

Graeme Brown, founder of The Hampden Collection, which was set up following the discovery of the 1st Hampden map, said: “This project is the foundation stone of our flagship #Restore1stHampden programme, which Hampden Bowling Club and The Hampden Collection set up in 2017. First Hampden is one of the secrets of the sporting world, and our partnership with Archaeology Scotland is a key step in ensuring everyone understands the importance of this site."

Will Moffat, Hampden Bowling Club Vice President, said this provided further evidence of their heritage.

He said: "It has been brilliant to see so many new faces engaged in our story, and the site of 1st Hampden. We are forever grateful to the team, who are diligently cataloguing and registering all their finds, which will ensure the 1st Hampden is never lost again."

The club is awaiting a final report from a structural engineer and have also been in discussion with Queens Park about moving forward with the help of the football club.