IT stands on a rocky hill, keeping a watchful eye over our city – but who is really buried in Glasgow’s Necropolis?

Tours run by The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis start again, weather permitting, on February 16 and they are a fascinating insight into the lives and deaths of some of the 50,000 people buried there.

Scotland’s earliest garden cemetery, the Necropolis – one of four in the city – opened for business in 1832 and quickly became a popular visitor attraction.

The first burial took place on September 12, 1832, for “the Jew Joseph Levy”, a 62-year-old quill merchant who died from cholera.

Only people with existing family lairs are permitted a final resting spot here in the city’s grandest cemetery that attracts hundreds of visitors a day.

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There are dignatories and “notables” – ordinary people allowed to buried in its hallowed ground because they had carried out heroic acts, such as the teenage boy who died trying to save a six-year-old girl who had fallen into a river and firefighters killed in the Cheapside Street whisky bond fire in Glasgow on March 28, 1960.

Corlinda Lee, the Gypsy Queen, who is said to have read Queen Victoria’s palm and whose grave has coins wedged into the stonework, was also allocated a plot.

Many of the mausolea monuments were designed by prominent architects such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander “Greek” Thomson.

There are too many fascinating stories to tell about the men and women interred here – the Misses Buchanan of Bellfield, for example, were three unsung heroines of Victorian Glasgow.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Women’s Library, who run women’s heritage walks around the city, point out in their Women of the Necropolis walking tour leaflet: “Jane, Elizabeth and Margaret were the daughters of George Buchanan of Woodlands, a cotton baron. All outlived their male siblings and none married. The sisters felt a deep responsibility for Glasgow and their will bequeathed £10,000 to the Merchants’ House, on the condition that their tomb be properly maintained in perpetuity.”

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(It has now been restored by the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis.)

“A bequest of £30,000 founded a hospital for the infirm of Glasgow aged 60 or above,” continues the leaflet. “They left money to many other institutions, amounting to a legacy of some £4m in today’s money.”

One of the most striking tombs at the Necropolis is the one belonging to Isabella Ure Elder, who died in 1905.

Isabella is one of the few historical women commemorated as statues around Glasgow – her memorial can be found in Govan’s Elder Park.

Glasgow Times:

A wealthy philanthropist, she was instrumental in promoting higher education for women in Scotland. She helped fund Queen Margaret College, the first in Glasgow to provide comprehensive higher education for women. She also established a School of Domestic Economy in Govan.

The next Friends of Glasgow Necropolis tours run on February 16 and 28 and March 7, 22 and 27. Visit

for more information. More information about the Glasgow Women’s Library heritage walking tours, which take place across

the city, is available at