Glasgow's Creepy City of the Dead

The Creepiest Place in Scotland Is Not Loch Ness

Glasgow Necropolis
Robert Schrader

When you think of creepy places in Scotland, the first one that usually comes to mind is Loch Ness. This would be an inaccurate assumption for a variety of reasons—and the fact that Nessie does not exist is just one of them.

In fact, Loch Ness is absolutely beautiful, particularly on sunny days, when blue skies counteract the abject blackness of its water. The scariest thing you are likely to see in Loch Ness is the sheer number of tourists who crowd it, or the prices of many of the restaurants and guest houses nearby, especially during the busy summer months.

To be sure, the creepiest attraction in Scotland is one that sits right in the middle of its largest city. It's arguably a city in and of itself—well, if you happen to be dead.

The History of Glasgow's Necropolis

As you begin walking eastward from Glasgow's iconic Cathedral, the Necropolis looks like an ordinary cemetery—a large one, but nothing particularly special. Its creepiness and size notwithstanding, the history of the Necropolis is actually rather quotidian as well.

Specifically, the Necropolis dates back to the Victorian era, with the construction of Paris' Père Lachaise cemetery, whose opening pressured British authorities into building more cemeteries—and into burying people in them for profit. Which, you might argue, is pretty creepy in and of itself.

Notable Residents of Glasgow's Necropolis

Profit the cemetery did. While no exact figured are available, let alone modern-equivalent estimates, the cemetery was completely filled by 1851, just 19 years after it opened. Many of the tenants who fill this notorious city of the dead are quite notable in and of themselves.

The most conspicuous monument here, a 12-foot Doric column on the top of the hill, commemorates John Knox, the founder of Scottish Presbyterianism. Famous individuals except, the Necropolis also contains memorials to soldiers who received the Victoria Cross, veterans of the Korean War, and even a general one for stillborn children.

It isn't just some of the residents (can you say that about dead people?) of the cemetery who are famous. Celebrated architects such as Alexander Thompson, John Bryce and David Hamilton, consider Glasgow's "father of architecture," designed tombs in the Necropolis.

How to Visit Glasgow's Necropolis

As I mentioned during the intro to this article, the Necropolis is right in the heart of Glasgow. As you approach Glasgow Cathedral, which is probably the most famous attraction in the city, the Necropolis appears just behind it—it's less than a five-minute walk.

Like the Cathedral, the Necropolis is free to enter and doesn't require any sort of ticket. In addition to amazing gravestones and general creepiness, the Necropolis offers great views of the rest of Glasgow. The two attractions also fit together thematically: The Cathedral is Gothic, and built on top of a smaller medieval version of itself, so visiting all three of these places together allows you to see a broad cross-section of Glasgow's architectural history.

Furthermore, while some of the city's other attractions don't look very beautiful under the city's typically grey skies, the Necropolis really shines under them, as paradoxical as that might seem.