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Friday, October 25, 2019

The Necropolis: Browsing Glasgow’s City of the Dead

For so long Scotland has been a holy pilgrimage of mine to the wild and natural places. Subconsciously I knew I needed to clear the atmosphere of other voices so I could listen in. I used to consider myself a misanthrope because I preferred solitude to company. But I see, now, that that was the universe giving me an avenue to the truth.

It’s like I’ve reached through the bars of a locked library shelf and slipped out the Book of Aelyth. Words are hard-pressed to capture a revelation, and I am hardly smith enough to articulate a shred of its power. Suffice to say I awakened, and once awake never confused for asleep.

So as I walk through the graveyards of Scotland I wonder at the libraries beneath my feet, the immense tales, rousing epics, and heart-breaking short stories encased in the earth, writ only with a tombstone, the spine of a book. And here, in Glasgow, the Necropolis: The most iconic graveyard in Scotland.

Glasgow Catheral & The Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow Catheral & The Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

For years I’ve told prospective travelers that the Necropolis and its constant companion, St. Mungo’s Cathedral (also known as Glasgow Cathedral), are always mist-shrouded, as if perpetually hung with the specter of Samhain, for such was always my experience when visiting. Until, of course, I decided to return for the purposes of writing this post.

Blue skies, scorching sunlight, and laughing children were what I found. And a wry smile. I’m well-versed with the fact that you never know what the universe has in store.

Blossoming trees couldn’t hide Glasgow Cathedral’s toothpaste-green roof, nor the dark stains dripping down the Gothic facade like running mascara. This is one of the few cathedrals in Scotland to have survived the Reformation, and it possesses the haunted look of a marooned survivor. A wide bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, extends from St. Mungo’s grounds to the Necropolis’s terraced hillside.

Glasgow Catheral & The Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow Catheral & The Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Unlike Edinburgh, Glasgow is a fairly flat place, but what modest elevation exists in the city can be found at the Necropolis. The yard was opened in 1833 as a multi-denominational burial place. This was a cutting edge idea in 1833 but quite necessary given Glasgow’s explosive growth. The Necropolis is a Victorian construct laid out as an informal park, as was typical of Victorians, and there are countless immense tombs, mausoleums, and memorials scattered throughout the Necropolis’s 37 acres. Of particular note is the monument to John Knox, famous or infamous you decide.

Glasgow Catheral & The Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow Catheral & The Necropolis, Glasgow, Scotland

Asphalt lanes wind around the Necropolis, climbing steadily upward or twisting upon themselves. There’s a haphazardness I find at once unsettling and welcoming. There’s heart and soul here (and bones, lots of bones) where so many other graveyards and cemeteries are sterile and disturbingly uniform in their organization.

There’s an estimated 50,000 people buried at the Necropolis. That’s bigger than a lot of towns, so you see why it’s called the City of the Dead, but as I reflect on my most recent visit to the Necropolis I think of it as the lost library of Alexandria. Think of the countless stories, the laughter and tears, and the victories and failures that channeled through every body interred here.

I feel of pang of loss that I didn’t get to know those stories, those people. It’s a new feeling for me. I realize I want to be out in the world among people again, sharing stories.

I have a picture of myself standing in Glasgow’s Necropolis among the infinite bound and locked tomes. My story isn’t finished.

It might not’ve even gotten to the best parts yet.

The post The Necropolis: Browsing Glasgow’s City of the Dead appeared first on Traveling Savage.

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