There are about 3500 tombs that dot the Glasgow hill on which the Necropolis is located. But, be careful when you sit down to rest. Who knows who you could be sitting on. The city of the dead in Glasgow has many wealthy merchants tombs in it. Some of these have been built by famous Scottish architects. The peaceful nature of this cemetery is enhanced by some splendid, well managed parkland. Worth looking out for is the Houldsworth Mausoleum. Also, the sculpture of a stage and proscenium arch. These figures of Tragedy and Comedy are dedicated to John Henry Alexander. The 1825 built statue to John Knox on the summit is also worth seeing.
Don't be Afraid
Are you scared of cemeteries? Do you fear the ghosts of the dead creeping up behind you? If so, then we would suggest not coming to the Glasgow Necropolis. But, if the answer is no, then walk up the hill and let your thoughts be touched by the haunting sounds and whispers of the past. Some say that you can see into the soul of a city by what they throw away, We would say that visiting a cemetery is just as good a reflection. How we treat our dead can express how we treat the living.
What is a Necropolis?
Necropolis means "city of the dead" but, do not worry, they are all resting in peace.
Who is Buried Here
What you will find here are many merchants graves. Glasgow made its wealth in the XIXth Century thanks to this class, who helped transform the city into the British Empire's second city. They and their families sought a place to rest peacefully for all eternity.
The Necropolis officially opened as a burial ground in April 1833. The first person to be buried was Joseph Levi, a Jewish jeweller. As the landscaping was proceeding, monuments, gates and buildings were constructed.
The principal architects were the Glaswegian father and son team of David and James Hamilton. Their most famous piece is the first thing you see as you approach. You need to cross as you approach the Necropolis. This is the Glasgow Bridge of Sighs.
Other famous architects have designed some of the tombs, crosses and vaults in the Necropolis. These include Alexander Thomson and Charles R. Mackintosh.
Location - The Hill and its Development
The Necropolis is spread across a hill above the Glasgow Cathedral. The Molindinar Ravine separates the hill from the cathedral's square. From the founding of the cathedral in 1136 to 1650, there was not much need to create a cemetery. People were buried in urban churchyards.
The Merchants' House purchased the land. One of their first decisions was to add more life. They planted fir trees. This lead to it being named Fir Park. By 1804, industrial predations killed them. Elm and willow trees replaced them, but the name has stuck.
Victorian History of Glasgow and the Cemetery
The economic and industrial boom of Glasgow in the XIXth Century led to major health and sanitary problems putting a strain on how the dead were dealt with. Coupled with Victorian morals, the situation became unbearable. Discussions began in 1828 as to funding and planning. An architectural competition was opened. David Bryce and John Bryce, unrelated, placed first and second, but it was later decided that the project was more suited to a landscape gardener, so George Mylne was chosen to direct it. Any visitor to Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris would recognize it here.