Glasgow Necropolis

Glasgow Necropolis

Monuments on the summit of the Glasgow Necropolis hill
Established 1832
Location Glasgow
Country Scotland
Coordinates 55°51′44″N 4°14′00″W / 55.86217°N 4.23340°W / 55.86217; -4.23340
Type Public
Size 37 acres (15 ha)
Number of interments 50,000

The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery in Glasgow, Scotland. It is on a low but very prominent hill to the east of Glasgow Cathedral (St. Mungo's Cathedral). Fifty thousand individuals have been buried here. Typically for the period only a small percentage are named on monuments and not every grave has a stone. Approximately 3500 monuments exist here.

Following the creation of Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris a wave of pressure began for cemeteries in Britain. This required a change in the law to allow burial for profit. Previously the parish church held responsibility for burying the dead but there was a growing need to give an alternative solution. Glasgow was one of the first to join this campaign, having a growing population, with fewer and fewer attending church. The planning of the cemetery began formally by the Merchants' House of Glasgow in 1831, in anticipation of a change in the law. The Cemeteries Act was passed in 1832 and the floodgates opened. Glasgow Necropolis officially opened in April 1833.[1] Just prior to this, in September 1832 a Jewish burial ground had been established in the north-west section of the land. This small area was declared "full" in 1851.

Predating the cemetery, the statue of John Knox sitting on a column at the top of the hill, dates from 1825.

Alexander Thomson designed a number of its tombs, and John Bryce and David Hamilton designed other architecture for the grounds.

The main entrance is approached by a bridge over what was then the Molendinar Burn. The bridge, which was designed by David Hamilton was completed in 1836. It became known as the "Bridge of Sighs" because it was part of the route of funeral processions (the name is an allusion to the Bridge of Sighs in Venice). The ornate gates (by both David and James Hamilton) were erected in 1838, restricting access onto the bridge.

Three modern memorials lie between the gates and the bridge: a memorial to still-born children; a memorial to the Korean War; and a memorial to Glaswegian recipients of the Victoria Cross.

Across the bridge the original scheme was to enter the area via a tunnel but this proved unviable. The ornate entrance of 1836 remains.

The cemetery, as most early Victorian cemeteries, is laid out as an informal park, lacking the formal grid layouts of later cemeteries. This layout is further enhanced by the complex topography. The cemetery's paths meander uphill towards the summit, where many of the larger monuments stand, clustered around the John Knox Monument.

The Glasgow Necropolis was described by James Stevens Curl as "literally a city of the dead". Glasgow native Billy Connolly has said: "Glasgow's a bit like Nashville, Tennessee: it doesn't care much for the living, but it really looks after the dead."[2]

Notable statues and sculptures

John Henry Alexander Monument
Charles Tennant Monument
Memorial column on summit of the hill Monument to John Knox Doric column by Thomas Hamilton and 12 ft statue by William Warren (carved by Robert Forrest) 1825
Tomb of Mrs Lockhart Sculpture William Mossman 1842
Mausoleum of Major Archibald Douglas Monteath Large tiered octaganal building of neo-Norman design David Cousin 1842
Tomb of William Motherwell Marble bust James Fillans 1851
Tomb of actor-manager John Henry Alexander of the Theatre Royal Scene representing stage and proscenium arch with flanking figures of "Tragedy" and "Comedy" (As of 2012, one figure is missing and the other is headless.) James Hamilton, sculpted by Alexander Handyside Ritchie 1851
Houldsworth Mausoleum Flanking angels and "Hope" and "Charity", with "Faith" visible inside the mausoleum John Thomas 1854
Tomb of Charles Tennant Seated marble figure of Charles Tennant of St Rollox Patric Park 1838
Tomb of Walter Macfarlane, of the Saracen Foundry Art-nouveau portrait panel Bertram MacKennal of London 1896
Blackie publishing family tomb Tomb slab Talwin Morris (carved by J & G Mossman Ltd.) 1910
Monument to William McGavin Statue by Robert Forrest John Bryce 1834
Andrew McCall Celtic cross to Andrew McCall Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1888
Monument to Peter Lawrence Statue of Life with a dashed torch William Mossman 1840
Tomb to Mrs Margaret Montgomerie Statues of "Hope" and "Resignation" J G & W Mossman 1856

War Graves

Glasgow Necropolis holds graves of 18 Commonwealth service personnel, 13 from World War I and 5 from World War II, that are registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[3] The first, and highest ranking, of those buried here is Lieutenant-General Sir James Moncrieff Grierson, who died in August 1914 in France and whose body was repatriated. His grave is in section Primus 38.[4]

See also


  1. Glasgow Necropolis Heritage Trail, Glasgow City Council
  2. Billy Connolly's World Tour of Scotland (1994)
  3. CWGC Cemetery Report.
  4. CWGC Debt of Honour Register.

External links

Coordinates: 55°51′45″N 4°13′50″W / 55.86250°N 4.23056°W / 55.86250; -4.23056

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