Ronnie Scott 2013

University of Strathclyde, UK

What lies beneath? The infrastructure of the Glasgow Necropolis

Studies of the material culture of cemeteries often concentrate on funerary monuments, chapels and other visible structures. This paper, by contrast, looks below the surface of the Glasgow Necropolis (first burial 1832) to examine rock-cut and brick-lined graves, family vaults, trenches for common burials, chambers for temporary burial and proposed catacombs. It also discusses the drains. This presentation will show that Scotland’s first ornamental, or garden, cemetery was as innovative below the ground as it was above, and incorporated both hygienic and security features that reflected the changing demands and expectations of the emerging middle-class consumers of the growing and developing city. The paper will also attempt to trace the origins of these advances in the practices of David Hamilton, a leading Glasgow architect who contributed much to the design and material culture of the Necropolis, and Stewart Murray, an important gardener who was also a consultant to the developers of the Glasgow Necropolis.


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract