Tontine Heads


Provand's Lordship
3 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0RB
0141 276 1625
Fax: 0141 552 4744


Monday CLOSED, Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday 10am–5pm, Friday and Sunday 11am–5pm

Tontine Heads

Tontine Head Number Six

Surrounding the garden, the cloistered walkway displays an intriguing collection of carved faces.

These strange stone masks are known collectively as the Tontine Heads or Tontine Faces. They play a famous part in Glasgow's past.

A new Town Hall was formally opened at Glasgow Cross in 1740. The building had a piazza frontage of five archways. Each archway displayed a stone face as a keystone. They were carved by master stonemason David Cation.

In 1869 the Tontine Hotel was converted into a drapers shop. The lower arcade that held the ten Tontine Heads was demolished.

The masks were acquired by the Glasgow builder Peter Shannan. He was building a new warehouse for Messrs Fraser Sons & Co at the bottom of Buchanan Street.

In the 1930s, Glasgow journalist James Cowan, whose pseudonym was Peter Prowler, began a project to locate the masks.

The mystery of the Tontine Heads was gradually unravelled. They were unearthed in various sites around the city, and finally reunited in 1995 when St Nicholas Garden was opened.

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