Brief Visit to Glasgow Necropolis

My first visit to Glasgow Necropolis was a day later than I had intended, but after the very busy conference I was so tried I slept for 12 hours straight! I decided that instead of attempting to do fieldwork whilst fighting exhaustion I would check out the library at the University. My SCONUL card was expired, so I was worried about getting in but apparently having an ID card from a UK university was enough to get me in as a guest. If I want to borrow anything I will have to renew the SCONUL card though! I found some interesting materials, so I’ll do some book list recommendations in a future post.

On the following day I was getting an afternoon train, so I left my suitcase in left luggage at the station and trekked out to the Necropolis. I could only stay a few hours, but I thought it would be enough time to briefly cover all of the monuments in my study. The weather and technology had other ideas…

It was quite a grey day when I set off, entering the cemetery from the entrance by the Cathedral. The Cathedral looks fascinating too, despite the scaffolding, so next time I’m there I will definitely have to look inside!

Glasgow Cathedral

The Necropolis is reached by crossing The Bridge of Sighs which used to cross the Molendinar Burn until it was culverted in the 1870s.

Bridge of Sighs

Isn’t the entrance facade incredible?

Necropolis facade

Originally the plan was to create catacombs behind, by tunneling back into the hillside. Unfortunately the rock turned out too unstable and the tunnel collapsed. The area behind the gates is currently used for storing lawn movers and the other entrances were filled in.

I began following the trail in Johnson’s book, making quick sketch plans and photographing the moments. Then my camera battery died! This is the last photo I managed to take:

glasgow necropolis last photo feb 2014
I think it’s time for a new battery – it’s not held charge well at all this week.

I decided to make the best of it by beginning the detailed recording for one group of memorials – getting out my tape measure, folding ruler, notebook and pencil. I was making good progress for a while, then it started to rain… Initially I wasn’t too inconviencied (after all, I’m used to recording in wet cemeteries) but the rain just got heavier and heavier! The necropolis is a very exposed location – without trees to shelter under and buffeted by the wind, so despite my best efforts to continue, I soon had to admit that it wasn’t going to work. The paper was too wet to write on! I packed up and made my way back to the train station a little early, and not a little disappointed.

I can’t wait to return to the necropolis and explore properly – hopefully I can arrange a longer vsit before the end of the year!

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