Glasgow Necropolis

So often returning to the same place.’
Merchants` House motto

It called to me before I went there
across the bridge of sighs:
green avenues of mausoleums,
huge genius loci of merchant patriarchs
towering over obelisks and plinths,
guardians of locked vaults,
faces grey and sombre.

Nothing escapes the rain in the city of the dead.
It pours its fierce torrential acid force
on statues with eyes empty in prayer
gazing forever heavenward.
Makes them raw. Crafts them so white it hurts.
Grants them tears and new stigmata.
An angel holds an oak leaf like a butterfly.
Orange sycamore birds catch in the wind and fall.

How do they feel, how do they see
when their eyes are pupil-less?
Are they blind or do they see as I see
a crack of light in the magma-like clouds,
my lord of the dead approaching on a lime-white horse
where time bends an army of tombstones
into eternity? Do their hearts beat
with mourning and elation?

Do they remember the steady hand
of devotion that carved their limbs,
immortalised them here as I stare statue-like
from amongst merchants, artists, poets,
gathered on green roads,
in sepulchral houses,
ask the rider on the pale horse
“why am I so often returning to the same place?”

Bridge of Sighs

*Glasgow Necropolis was the last place I visited during my time in Glasgow.



3 thoughts on “Glasgow Necropolis

  1. Corinne Dunbar says:

    Really enjoyed these posts, thank you. I understood that the Strathclyde British built their new HQ in Govan after losing Dumbarton, and that they built a chapel there. Was St Kentigern not associated with that? I thought that there used to be several old grave stones from the early mediaeval period there –?

  2. lornasmithers says:

    Hello Corinne, thanks for following my posts. Yes, from what I’ve read, it seems the Strathclyde Britons had a presence in Govan from around the 5th C. There’s a tradition that its founding saint, Constantine, was the son of Rhydderch Hael and Languoreth. The name is said to derive from ‘little hill’ but seems to also carry echoes of Gofannon, a British smithing deity. There’s a sarcophagus that could possibly be from around the time the Vikings seized Dumbarton Rock when they moved their ‘HQ’ along with other northern British gravestones (suggesting they brought their dead with them?). There are also Viking hogbacks from later on. There’s an excellent website detailing this here:

    I didn’t get the chance to visit Govan during my trip but would love to see these stones as well as sections of Molendinar Burn that are not covered over so plan to return some time next year.

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