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

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