Welcome to Glasgow Necropolis, a 19th century burial ground which is located on a high elevation close to Glasgow Cathedral.
In Glasgow there are two burial grounds named Necropolis or ‘city of the dead’. At the historic centre of old Glasgow, close to Glasgow Cathedral, is the burial ground known as the Necropolis which, as a community and religious site, has a very long history with burials commencing comparatively recently, in 1832. The Necropolis is the final resting place of some 50,000 persons of which only some 3,500 have tombs.
The Southern Necropolis is situated near the Gorbals area of Glasgow and not far from the river Clyde and city centre. This burial ground contains the remains of some 250,000 persons including the businessmen, entrepreneurs and professionals who collectively helped to establish Glasgow as the ‘second city of the British Empire’.
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In association with the adjacent Cathedral, the Necropolis site has a long history dating back to at least the 6th century AD when St. Mungo was active baptising Christian converts. Subsequently the site became known as ‘place of the grey rock’, then Wester Craigs, Golf Hill, Fir Park, Merchants Graveyard and finally the Necropolis.
The catalyst for establishment of the Necropolis burial ground was an early 19th century population explosion in Glasgow combined with appalling living conditions and disease which in turn resulted in a huge uplift in the death rate which could not be accommodated by existing burial grounds and cemeteries. To relieve this pressure the Necropolis was established as Glasgow’s first planned cemetery in tandem with a botanic and sculpture garden. The site benefits from a high elevation which affords superb views of the nearby Glasgow Cathedral, the Clyde Valley and associated hilly landscape.
The Necropolis is best known as the resting place for Glasgow’s merchant and administrative elite of the Victorian era (19th century), many of which are remembered with elaborate and expensive monuments, memorials and mausolea many of which have architectural and/or artistic merit. The site is approached via the Bridge of Sighs and then past an elaborate entrance façade (crypt) which is not open to the public. Thereafter the visitor can explore at leisure or follow the official Heritage Trail which includes such interesting structures as: Aitken of Dalmoak Mausoleum; the Egyptian Vaults; Major Archibald Douglas Monteath Mausoleum; James Ewing of Strathleven Monument; John Knox Monument (which predates the Necropolis); and the William Rae Wilson Monument. There is an official Heritage Trail which takes about 2 hours to navigate around some 35 important memorials and related sites.
Tell me more about the Southern Necropolis
This is an extensive flat site located close to the Gorbals district and can, with care, be accessed by car. In the past many of the memorials were vandalised with the result that, in certain light conditions, there is a somewhat ‘eerie’ atmosphere which provides some interesting photographic opportunities.
Although the Southern Necropolis houses five times the number of burials than in the main Necropolis near the Cathedral, the various memorials to the wealthier section of society are somewhat less grand. Nevertheless, there are some 31 burials deserving of inclusion in the official Heritage Trail walk including those of Sir Thomas Lipton, the White Lady, Wee Willie White and famous Glaswegian architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. Memorials in this burial ground date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
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