Glasgow Necropolis Burial Ground

This evening, I am posting information on a side-line of mine which is researching ancestry in Glasgow and environs mainly recording grave-markers. Each day I post to my Ancestry Blog information transcribed from a marker together with a video clip.

To date I have produced over 2800 posts which cover a wide range of cemeteries and burial grounds.

The earliest burial markers can be found at Govan Old Church and date from around AD 800. These do not carry written inscriptions but the high quality artistic designs and styles can be dated by experts.

Medieval inscriptions can be found in Glasgow Cathedral and Paisley Abbey but,those apart, most modern-form stone markers date from the late 1700s onwards from when Glasgow’s population mushroomed from 30,000 (1770) to 200,000 by 1830s as a function of trade and Glasgow’s leading role in the Industrial Revolution.

Many of the markers provide professions or occupations of the deceased, a feature which afford a useful insight into social trends and the local economy.

I have encountered a very wide spectrum of society including:

  • Politicians.
  • Lawyers.
  • Academics.
  • Tradesmen.
  • Specialist craft people.
  • A wide spectrum of business people, including super-rich of the day.
  • Ministers of religion.
  • Military personnel including casualties from colonial wars and the two World Wars.
  • Paupers.
  • Regular citizens.

Some of this work verges on archaeology. I have a particular fondness for Ramshorn Church Burial Ground in central Glasgow which contains many graves and memorials of the middle and upper classes from the late 1700s onwards.Because of Glasgow’s mild, wet climate many of the recumbent markers stones have acquired a thick layer of moss which I enjoy removing to ascertain the inscriptions underneath. Today, I encountered a typical such example. Image number 1 below shows the moss-covered stone the inscription on which may not have been visible for over 100 years.Image number 2 shows the stone cleared of moss, which entails about 10 mins work. The main inscription records the burial place of John Thomson and family and is dated 1817. However, uniquely, this stone records actual location and dimension of the burial plot: ” Fourth east of no 11, nine feet square”.

Image Number 1 (pre removal of moss)


Image number 2 (moss removed.)


As the Statutory Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages only date back to 1855 the type of research and information adverted to above may be of help to persons wishing to research their personal ancestry.

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