The Govan Stones 

This piece is inspired by the remarkable collection of early medieval sculpture to be found in Govan Old Church on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow.
govan old church
sunstone The opening section of the piece celebrates The Sun Stone, a rather unusual representation of the Sun. It has a central boss, presumably the Sun, with four rays emanating from it in the form of snakes! Musically, semiquaver runs both up and down are used to illustrate these rays, while the stone itself is represented by a powerful dotted quaver, semi-quaver motif which recurs in various forms throughout the piece.
The second section starting at bar 46 is much more light-hearted, taking as its subject The Cuddy Stane.

The rhythm here is 6/8, the pace leisurely, presenting a picture of the rider relaxing, perhaps with a hint of hunting at bar 83.

hogback stones The third movement changes mood again.  This time the focus is on the mysterious Hogback Stones, thought to be gravestones used to cover the final resting place of, perhaps, important Viking settlers. Or maybe not. In any case, I have chosen to think these stones are related to Vikings, and have used the fanfare-like rising 5th of the Viking Lur (a sort of horn) to build a haunting opening chord which leads to memories of a life now gone, probably involving hunting, sailing and foreign conquest. The strange symmetrical markings on these stones suggest the various musical patterns which occur in the quieter sections
The final section of the piece celebrates what some consider to be the finest exhibit in the collection, the Constantine Sarcophagus. It is a moot point whether this title refers to a Roman Emperor, a saint, or a Scottish king. Whichever, it is a monumental piece of carving hewn from solid stone. I have chosen to represent this work by an original hymn tune, the climax of which incorporates motifs from the earlier sections of the piece.

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