Glasgow University was founded in 1451 and is one of the oldest educational institutions in the United Kingdom. To commemorate the campus’ quincentennial, two large metal portals were presented to the university by the General Council in June 1952. The names of 29 outstanding figures from the University’s first 500 years were displayed in wrought iron. The individuals listed were either students, teachers, or in some capacity associated with the University.
Some of the individuals listed are well known, while others are less familiar such as William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin( 1824 - 1907), the inventor of absolute temperature, and James Dalrymple, a lawyer, and statesman who influenced the Scottish Enlightenment.
There are two women represented, both in the upper right-hand corner, Queen Margret signified with the initials “Q M ” and Isabella Elder. Elder was a suffragette and owner of one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world. In the late 19th century, she established Queen Margaret University, one of the first institutions for the higher education of women. Margaret is the patron saint of Scotland and is associated with promoting the Christian faith throughout Scotland.
Architect Graham Henderson designed the layout of the gate. At the top is a lion and unicorn that represent the nations of England and Scotland. A golden mace appears in the center, signifying the university’s authority. On either side are two inscriptions in Latin, on the left; ‘Almae Matri Alumni Pietatis Causa,’ implying that the Gates are a representation of Alumni devotion. On the right is the school’s motto: Via, Veritas, Vita’, ‘the Way, the Truth, the Life’.
Late additions of the names Dewar and Smith were added to commemorate the University’s 550th anniversary.
Know Before You Go
The website allows a user to gain further information about the individuals listed.