The Unmarked Graves in the Glasgow Necropolis

Published May 2024

In 2017 Morag Fyfe, FoGN’s researcher, initiated a project to index the Burial Registers of the Glasgow Necropolis and in February 2024 the indexers reached a milestone when the burial of 9 months old Mary McFadyen in common ground in Compartment Eta on 5 October 1872 was added to the database. This burial marked the end of the use of common ground in the Glasgow Necropolis; from then on all burials took place in family owned lairs. Between 19 June 1833 and that date 21,856 burials took place in common ground, 69% of the total number of burials for that period. Over the course of these 39 years plots of common ground opened, closed and re-opened in various parts of the Necropolis. The numbers buried varied from 235 squeezed into Compartment Delta to 4,674 in Compartment Iota and 8,094 in Compartment Eta.

The precise location of the common graves within the various compartments is unknown but in 2017 the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis obtained funding from HLF for a geophysical survey of five of the possible areas. That identified an area to the north east of the large open triangular area of Compartment Eta in the lower Necropolis which contains the unmarked graves of over 8,000 people. We subsequently approached GCC for permission and assistance to mark the boundary of this area with a Wildflower Border and, in 2021, further bulbs and wildflowers were planted with the help of volunteers. The final touch will be to place a stone marker at this site with the numbers of people buried there on it.

Eta Unmarked Graves Area -Wildflower Memorial

Eta Wildflower Border Memorial in 2023

In 2023 Angus Farquhar, creative director of Aproxima Arts, a Scottish arts based charity, launched Glasgow Requiem, a three year creative programme. One aspect of this was to embellish our earlier efforts and make the whole area of Eta a flower meadow as a memorial to those unremembered thousands. Planting started in December 2023 and further planting occurred in May 2024.

Morag concentrated on investigating further into the occupants of the unmarked graves and has published many of these stories on our Newsletters Grave Matters (available from our website).

We now have further GCC funding and a donation from Aproxima Arts to mark another area and our plan is to continue until all areas of common ground are marked with a Wildflower Border and a stone marker. The Marker will also give relatives visiting family members in unmarked graves a focal point for the visit and a place to remember.

Eta Unmarked Graves Area - How the memorial will look in the future

Artist’s impression – How the Eta Wildflower Memorial will look in the future

Omega Project

Between 2012 and 2019 the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis ran a project with the assistance of 12 students from the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland in partnership with Page\Park, Architects, and funded by the Erasmus programme to survey, and record the condition, of the surviving monuments in the Glasgow Necropolis. Under this programme surveys of two thirds of the 22 compartments of the Glasgow Necropolis were completed.

With Erasmus funding no longer available, in 2019 the Friends obtained funding from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities for a PhD student, Michelle Craig, to continue the survey and this brought the total of completed surveys to 15.

In 2021 the Friends applied to Glasgow City Heritage Trust (GCHT) for funding to allow the same surveyor, Michelle Craig, to Survey another compartment and Compartment Omega was chosen. Situated in a prime position on top of the Necropolis hill with the monuments of many prominent 19th century Glaswegians and no provision for common ground, Omega was the only compartment in the oldest part of the Glasgow Necropolis which had not been surveyed.

Please see our Project Omega webpage for further detail and profiles of some of those interred within Omega.

Omega Project

New Profiles Added

Two new profiles have been added to our website. Both are about people who were buried in common graves in compartment Iota.

Private Thomas Dobbie was buried on 28 December 1846.  William Everette Allenby, a 56 year old artist, died from typhus fever and was buried in May 1847.

Read their stories and those of many others on the profiles page of our website.

Joseph Hume, MP by William Allenby

Joseph Hume, MP by William Allenby

Glasgow Necropolis Tour App

Explore one of Glasgow’s top tourist destinations, with the official GLASGOW NECROPOLIS TOUR app. This app has been produced to enable visitors to take an informed guided solo tour through the grounds of Glasgow’s most renowned cemetery – the City of the Dead. Monuments include; William Miller Memorial, John Knox Monument & Hutchison Family Mausoleum.

Please note that all proceeds from the app sale will be used by the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis to carry out conservation and restoration work at the Necropolis. The app will allow you to donate more to the charity if you’d like to help us further.

Visit the app page for full details:

Tours, Films and Books

Disappointed that you didn’t manage to get a place on one of our Doors Open Tours? Fear not, we have tours throughout the year. We’ll be announcing our 2023 tour programme very soon.

Check out our You Tube channel. We have a wonderful drone film of the Necropolis as well as a presentation showing some of the work we’ve done over the years. 

We also have Glasgow Necropolis books for sale.

Her Majesty the Queen

The Committee & Members of the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis would like to acknowledge the sad passing of Her Majesty the Queen. Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the Royal Family at this time.

Out of respect for the Queen and the Royal Family, we will not be posting on our social media channels over the next few days.

The Necropolis remains open and if you have any queries please contact us via our usual e mail channels.

In deepest sympathy

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis

Roger Guthrie

Roger Guthrie assisting with survey of Monteath Mausoleum

Roger Guthrie assisting with survey of Monteath Mausoleum

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis are very sad to say that our Trustee and committee member, Roger Guthrie, died of cancer on Saturday 2nd July 2022.

Roger’s work in the Mitchell Library Archives fuelled his outstanding knowledge of Glasgow’s heritage and he was involved in numerous heritage organisations. I knew him as a friend for a long time and invited him onto our committee some 10 years ago. He had such an unbelievable range of knowledge and he took delight in being able to use it to help others. He was famously well known for his ability to save important parts of buildings facing demolition. You could often bump into him with some piece of ironwork or stone about his person.

We were delighted to be able to utilise his knowledge of cast iron work to design the replacement cast iron gates in the Necropolis during the restoration of the Buchanan Sisters Mausoleum and the Delta Mausoleum. A fitting tribute to him.

He also helped us with an annual architectural tour of the Glasgow Necropolis on Glasgow Doors Open Days usually preceded by a walking tour of Dennistoun but he undertook walking tours of many parts of Glasgow throughout the year.

My favourite tour with Roger was his Cove and Kilcreggan tour which had 4 miles of him talking about Thomson architecture with a break in the middle both there and back at the annual Real Ale festival at the Cove Burgh Hall and included a visit to the William Leiper designed Knockderry Castle Hotel. Roger full of fun and at his best with his favourite subjects.

Ruth Johnston
Chairperson, The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis

The Women of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary

As a tribute to the work of the NHS the Friends have restored three monuments to sixteen nurses and domestic staff from Glasgow Royal infirmary buried in the Glasgow Necropolis. The oldest monument lists five young nurses who died from diseases mainly caught as a result of their work. The other stones tend to commemorate older women some of whom spent their whole working life until retirement at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

*Please note the video has no sound

Nigel Willis (1938-2021)

It is with great regret and sadness we have to announce that our well loved Vice Chairman, and former Chair, Nigel Willis, passed away last week from Covid.

Nigel Willis

It is with great regret and sadness we have to announce that our well loved Vice Chairman, and former Chair, Nigel Willis, passed away last week from Covid.

I know this will come as a great shock to many of you who knew Nigel personally or had been on his tours or had attended his power point presentation. You will remember him well as a gentle, humorous man, with a real strength of character and integrity.

Nigel was the foremost founder of the Friends established in 2005 and his earliest memories of the Glasgow Necropolis are from visiting the family memorials there as a child.

He put in an astonishing amount of work and enthusiasm into the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis, from the establishment of the Charity and he worked tirelessly up until the past few weeks. He loved the outdoors and no matter the weather over the last 15 years has taken thousands of people on tours – he especially loved doing school tours. He also travelled long distances to give Powerpoint presentations all year round to many organisations.

He brought his charisma and enthusiasm to every meeting he attended and many of us still on the committee were there from the very first year. Many Charities do not last half as long but he brought to our Charity the knowledge that the work of the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis outweighs any individual personalities or opinions.

His appearance on the TV programme ‘Flog it’ will keep re-appearing and remind us of this very special man, the loss of whom will be felt for a very long time to come.

We were honoured to have known him and to have shared his passion and vision for the Glasgow Necropolis.

Ruth Johnston, Chairperson and the Trustees of the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis

22nd September 2021

Tours are back!

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis are more than delighted to announce that we’re able to resume our walking tours of the Necropolis.
We have several walking tours between now and the end of the year. Please see our tours page for full details.

Glasgow Necropolis Walking Tours Programme and Events


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