If you’re ever near Glasgow, there is definitely one thing that you should check out there — the small town of Paisley! This quintessential Scottish attraction has plenty of things that you shouldn’t miss while you’re in the area — and we’ll give you a couple of short tips on the best sights to spot right here!
One of the most important historical landmarks of Paisley is the local Paisley Abbey. This is an incredibly old sight — dating back to the early 12th century. As such, you can imagine the historical spirit that oozes from every brick and pore of this medieval place. Heck, there are even accounts of the famed William Wallace actually obtaining his primary education here.
However, there are other, even more interesting aspects of the Abbey — those that make it well worth visiting. Twenty years ago, in 1990 — there was some essential restoration work done on the abbey. And over the course of the process, the dozen or so gargoyles that were a part of the facade and the interior were found to be in a state of utter disrepair; they had suffered enough water damage to warrant complete replacement instead of restoration. So, a masonry company from Edinburgh created new ones.
It seems that one of the masons who worked there decided to have some fun with this task — because one of the newer gargoyles has proven to be quite unique. This is definitely on board with the medieval tradition of gargoyle masonry, which dictated that no two of these should be identical.
Still, this newly created creature was more interesting because it seems to have an uncanny resemblance to the Xenomorph Alien from the eponymous film franchise; not something you see in your average 12th century medieval abbey!
This is probably due to the fact that these films reached the height of their popularity in the early 90s, so the workers wanted to have some fun. Still, even if you believe in ghosts, ghoulies, fictitious and real bed bugs — this gargoyle isn’t likely to terrorize or stalk any Earth-dweller or astronauts. It remains fully perched on the southwestern side of the abbey.
Paisley Witches Memorial
Seeing as we’re on the topic of medieval curiosities that Paisley is absolutely steeped in — here’s one that you won’t find on the average sightseeing map. If you arrive at the appropriate intersection in the middle of Paisley, you’ll see a pretty unremarkable cobblestone circle that encases a steel horseshoe; inside it, you may notice a small bronze plaque.
This is the sort of thing that you wouldn’t really notice unless you knew what you were looking for in the first place — but this makes the entire thing even more interesting. Namely, because this seemingly unassuming plaque is actually a memorial — and a memorial for witches! It marks the place where seven locals were convicted and executed after a witch trial; over the course of which they were found unfortunately guilty.
Interestingly enough, one of the “witches” decided to have one last laugh before her execution and cast a “curse of a dying woman” on everyone who convicted her and their perpetual descendants. And let’s face it — even if she was a real witch, we wouldn’t blame her as we’d do the same.
Still, all of the local tragedies and misfortunes that happened in the period after the trials were conveniently blamed on the curse. After a while, the locals decided to mark the witches’ final resting place with a horseshoe in order to prevent the spread of the curse.
However, disaster struck again in the 1960s — during local road work restorations, the horseshoe vanished. And after that, many people blamed the economic downturn which Paisley experienced in the following decade on that very curse. In order to correct this “issue”, the local government put a new horseshoe in the old place in 2008.
William Wallace tour
One of the other historical fun facts about Paisley is that it’s the birthplace of one of the most famed figures from the entire Scottish history — William Wallace. If you’re so inclined, you can go on the William Wallace tour.
It starts at the very birthplace of this national hero, where a monument of his now lays. Then, you go to visit the above mentioned Paisley Abbey, where Wallace received his first education from the local monks as a young boy. Plus, this abbey is also the last resting place of the Scottish King Robert II.
Once you finish your visit to the Abbey, you will be able to enjoy the widely lauded local cuisine of Paisley in one of the many surrounding small restaurants. After that, the tour takes you on a trip to nearby Stirling; where you’ll be able to enjoy the view of the great Stirling Castle — as well as the National Wallace Monument.
On your way there, you will be able to learn everything interesting that there is to know about William Wallace. Plus, you can even take a picture and pose with the hero’s mighty sword. And the top of the monument reveals a stunning viewpoint around the entire surrounding land; you’ll have the opportunity to take the picture of a lifetime.
The final part of the tour concerns Dumbarton Castle, where Wallace was sadly held upon being captured — his last place in Scotland before his torture and execution in London.
Scots in US tour
You should know that William Wallace isn’t the only interesting historical figure tied to the town of Paisley. In fact, two Founding Fathers of the United States either worked here or grew up in the area; find out which on the US Scots tour of Paisley!
Furthermore, you’ll be able to learn everything you can about the US navy’s founder and explore an interesting museum dedicated to the entrepreneur who would go on to create the roots of US Steel. Lastly, you’ll be able to see the monument which honors all of the Scots that fought in the American Civil War — and there are more of them than you’d think!
As you can see, there are plenty of different sights to see in Scotland’s small town of Paisley. And if you plan out your itinerary carefully, you should be able to snag all of them in just a couple of days. So, we advise planning your trip methodically — and you’ll have the outing of a lifetime!