The current church building in Govan was constructed in 1888, although the site is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in Scotland. Unusually, the axis of the church was turned to orientate north-south rather than the traditional east-west orientation, but this allowed the main door to face south to the main street. It is believed that the site's earliest Christian activity began sometime in the 6th century AD. Archaeological excavations in the 1990s uncovered two early Christian burials beneath the foundations of a later church. Despite this early activity, it wasn't until the 9th and 10th centuries that Govan Old rose to prominence.
The church now houses a remarkable collection of early Christian stones, The Govan Stones. They are an unique collection of early medieval stones carved in the 9th – 11th centuries to commemorate the power of those who ruled the Kingdom of Strathclyde. 31 monuments dating from this period include beautifully carved crosses and cross shafts, and 5 magnificent hogback stones.
The Church of St Donatus name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia.
The beginning of the building of the church was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to have been completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th and 9th centuries) is credited with the building of the church. He led the representations of the Dalmatian cities to Constantinople and Charles the Great, which is why this church bears slight resemblance to Charlemagne"s court chapels, especially the one in Aachen, and also to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It belongs to the Pre-Romanesque architectural period.
The circular church, formerly domed, is 27 m high and is characterised by simplicity and technical primitivism.