Glasgow Necropolis Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil. This post includes affiliate links.

The Necropolis is a Victorian garden cemetery situated on a hill overlooking Glasgow Cathedral. It is the final resting place of fifty thousand people and it was one of the first multi-faith graveyards in the world.

The Necropolis is well-known for the elaborate monuments and gravestones that cover the 37-acre site. It is free to visit and guided tours are available on request. Discover everything you need to know about the Glasgow Necropolis with this visitor guide.

Glasgow Necropolis
Address:Wishart Street,
G4 0UZ
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Paid car park on Castle Street
Contact:To book a tour -
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video


Virtual tour


If you’re in Glasgow and looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary you might enjoy taking a walk around the 37-acre Necropolis next to the city’s imposing cathedral.

This Victorian cemetery is the final resting place for over fifty thousand Glasgow residents and amongst the gravestones you’ll find memorials dedicated to some of the greatest Scots that have ever lived.

From John Knox (the founder of Scotland’s Presbyterian Church) to Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Scotland’s most famous architect) you’ll find a huge number of monuments in the Necropolis.

The Necropolis

Like most Victorian burial sites, Glasgow’s Necropolis is laid out like an informal park with meandering paths running throughout a vast collection of gravestones that’s reminiscent of the equally large Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

While some memorials are enormous and very elaborate there are others that are rather more nondescript and this eclectic mix of tombs lends the site an ethereal, other-worldly atmosphere.

There are around 3,500 monuments in this city of the dead but the most famous has to be the one dedicated to John Knox which sits on top of the highest point of the graveyard.

From there you’ll get a fantastic elevated view across the city with the cathedral in the foreground and Glasgow’s rambling streets spreading out in every direction.

The Necropolis is an incredibly atmospheric place that’s definitely worth visiting if you’re intending to view the nearby cathedral.

Glasgow Necropolis

The highlights

1: The Glasgow Necropolis has to be the most atmospheric place in Glasgow, but it’s also a scenic green space that’s full of wildlife.

2: The views across Glasgow from the hill summit near the Knox Monument are fantastic.

3: There’s a lot of history in the cemetery that awaits exploration by visitors. It’s genuinely interesting to walk across the site and look at the different memorials. Some of them are extraordinarily elaborate.

Visiting tips

1: The Necropolis is closed in the evening so don’t leave your visit too late.

2: Combine your visit with a look around Glasgow Cathedral and the St. Mungo Religious Museum which are just 5 minutes away on foot.

3: Because the Necropolis is so central it’s easy to use it as a reference point to explore the rest of the city. If you need inspiration for what to see next, read this article: The Best Places to Visit in Glasgow.

The Necropolis

Tourist information

The best thing about a visit to The Necropolis is losing yourself in the myriad paths that thread across the hill like an enormous spiderweb.

From the moment you cross the bridge leading away from the cathedral you’ll be flanked by Victorian carvings and if you take a closer look you’ll find a surprising mix of religious backgrounds.

The old graveyard is unusual in that it’s multi-faith and you’ll find Catholics, Quakers, Protestants and Jews laid to rest amongst the burial plots in a design that was way ahead of its time for its inclusion of different religions.

While the John Knox monument might be the first place you head to (although he’s not even buried at the Necropolis – instead you’ll find him under the car park of St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh), there are many more interesting gravestones to keep an eye open for.

One of the more random memorials is the one dedicated to William Miller, the poet that penned the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Wee Willie Winkie’, while one of the most surprising has to be the grave of the very first person to be buried in the Necropolis – an 18th-century jeweller who was actually Jewish.

The Necropolis

If you really want to discover the history of Glasgow’s Necropolis you can book yourself onto a two-hour informal guided walking tour run by a group of volunteer tour guides that are extremely knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about the place.

They don’t ask a fee to join the tour but they do request voluntary donations that go towards the upkeep of the Necropolis.

Alternatively, you’re free to wander around the site at your leisure and as the site is unmanned it is usually open till late – although you might like to give it a miss when it’s dark for your own safety.

If you enjoy wildlife spotting you’ve another reason to visit because The Necropolis is Glasgow’s second-largest green space. The graveyard is full of plants and animals and there are large stretches of wildflowers, wooded areas and ivy-covered quarry faces.

There are more than 180 different species of flowering plants and trees across the site that attract insects and a variety of birds that feed on them, and you might be lucky enough to see pipistrelle bats flitting about the sky at dusk.

There are also wood mice, voles and roe deer – although the deer are usually only seen late at night.

Glasgow Cathedral


Prior to the Necropolis being the home to Glasgow’s dead, the site on which it’s located – known as Wester Crags – had been planted with fir trees and was used as a public park.

Unfortunately, the firs struggled to survive so in the early 1800s they were replaced with willow and elm and the site transformed into a Victorian arboretum.

It was around this time that the first foundation stone was laid which would eventually become the John Knox monument which is now the focal point of the entire graveyard.

With the growing need to find somewhere to bury the dead of the city’s ever-expanding population Glasgow’s city planners looked for inner-city areas to create a new graveyard and Fir Park – the peaceful Victorian arboretum – became the obvious choice.

The passing of The Cemeteries Act in 1832 meant that burial sites could be created for profit so The Glasgow Merchants House purchased the land with a view to developing a picturesque site that would rival the graveyards of Paris.

With that thought in mind, the job of designing the Necropolis was awarded to a landscape gardener rather than an architect.

Glasgow Necropolis

The Necropolis officially opened in 1833 as an interdenominational burial ground but it was a full year before the first Christian burial took place.

We know this because The Necropolis kept details of all burials including age, sex and cause of death, something that was very unusual for the time.

The ornate entrance and bridge – known as the Bridge of Sighs – were completed in 1836 with later extensions added to the site in 1877 and 1892 plus three additional memorials installed between the entrance gate and the bridge.

These memorials are dedicated to the still-born children of Glasgow, the soldiers lost in the Korean War and the Glaswegian recipients of the Victoria Cross.

The burial grounds continued to be run privately until 1966 when The Merchant’s House handed the Necropolis over to Glasgow City Council which now maintains it for public access.

The Necropolis

The Commonwealth War Graves

The Western Necropolis is a large cemetery complex north of Glasgow City Centre. Adjoining this site are the following large cemeteries: Glasgow Lambhill and Glasgow St Kentigern’s Cemetery, all three are separate but adjoin each other.

Glasgow Garnet Hill Hebrew Burial Ground and Glasgow Crematorium Memorial are also at this site.

Vehicle access is prohibited to all sites in the evenings with gates closing at 5 pm in winter and 6 pm in the summer, pedestrian access is still possible.


During the two world wars, the United Kingdom became an island fortress used for training troops and launching land, sea and air operations around the globe.

There are more than 170,000 Commonwealth war graves in the United Kingdom, many being those of servicemen and women killed on active service, or who later succumbed to wounds.

Others died in training accidents, or because of sickness or disease. The graves, many of them privately owned and marked by private memorials, will be found in more than 12,000 cemeteries and churchyards.

Glasgow Western Necropolis

Glasgow was one of the ports of embarkation for the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 and several military hospitals opened in the city during the First World War, including the 3rd and 4th Scottish General (1,200 beds each), and the Merryflats War Hospital (500 beds).

Battalions of a number of Scottish regiments had their headquarters at Glasgow during both wars, most notably the Highland Light Infantry.

The Clydeside shipyards were targeted by German bombers during the Blitz and Glasgow suffered a particularly ferocious attack on the night of 13/14 March 1941 when many civilians and servicemen were killed.

The Glasgow Western Necropolis contains 359 First World War burials, many of them grouped together in Section P with a small group of Australian graves in Section N. A screen wall near the main entrance carries the badges of the regiments represented in Sections P and H.

The 124 Second World War burials are scattered throughout the cemetery, although there are two among the earlier war graves in Section P. Also in this group are two inter-war service burials and two German war graves.

Glasgow War Graves

Glasgow Crematorium stands within the Western Necropolis and a memorial in the garden of rest commemorates one serviceman of the First World War and 72 of the Second World War whose remains were cremated there.

Commonwealth War Graves Location:

By road from the M8 exit at junction 16 and head north on A879 Craighall Road. Travel 2.5 miles on this road leading into Saracen Street and Balmore Road. Turn left into Skirska Street then second right on Tresta Road.

Through the housing estate, the entrance to Western Necropolis is on the right-hand side past the entrance to St. Kentigern’s Cemetery at the end of the road.

By Public transport, Gilhochil Rail Station is two minutes’ walk from the main cemetery entrance. Trains from Queen Street Station travelling to Anniesland stop at this station.

Information courtesy of Commonwealth War Graves.

Discover more places to visit in Glasgow with: The Best Places to Visit in Glasgow – Ultimate Visitor Guide.

Glasgow Necropolis

Things to do

Historical Exploration: Delve into the rich history of Glasgow by exploring the Glasgow Necropolis. This Victorian cemetery, the burial place of more than 50,000 souls, offers a unique look into the city’s past. Admire the ornate architecture of the monuments, mausoleums, and Celtic crosses, each telling its own story of a life once lived.

Photography: Famed for its atmospheric beauty, the Glasgow Necropolis is a haven for photographers. Capture the stunning cityscape views from the top of the hill during the magical golden hour for a photo you’ll be proud to share on social media.

Guided Walking Tour: Join a guided tour to truly appreciate this historic location. Expert guides will take you around the Necropolis and share fascinating tales of the notable people interred there. Click here to see some of the tours offered by Get Your Guide.

Picnic with a View: For a unique dining experience, pack a picnic, find a spot under a tree, and enjoy your lunch with the panoramic views of Glasgow spreading out before you.

Wildlife Spotting: Despite its urban location, the Necropolis is a hotspot for wildlife. Keep an eye out for a variety of birds, squirrels, and other creatures that call this place home.

Glasgow Necropolis


Victorian Garden Cemetery: The Glasgow Necropolis is a Victorian garden cemetery that was inspired by the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. It was designed to be both a peaceful resting place and a pleasant green space for the living.

First Cemetery of Its Kind: The Necropolis was the first cemetery of its kind in Scotland, opening its gates in 1832. This marked a shift from churchyard burials to a dedicated, landscaped burial ground.

Bridge of Sighs: The entrance to the Necropolis is over the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, named after the famous bridge in Venice. The name is said to represent the final sigh of the living as they bid farewell to the deceased.

Innovative Burial System: The Necropolis was unique in its use of a tiered system for burials. This allowed for the creation of elegant terraces and walkways, giving the cemetery a distinctive layout.

Remarkable Architecture: The Necropolis is home to some of the most remarkable funerary architecture in the UK. It includes a variety of styles from the Victorian era, including Gothic, Egyptian, and Greek Revival.

Famous Residents: The Necropolis is the final resting place of many notable figures, including William Miller, known as the ‘Laureate of the Nursery’ for his popular nursery rhyme, ‘Wee Willie Winkie’.

Symbolic Monuments: Many of the monuments at the Necropolis are rich in symbolism. For instance, the statue of John Knox, the Protestant reformer, stands atop the highest point, symbolizing his influential role in Scottish history.

International Influence: The Necropolis was not just for Glaswegians. It has graves of people from all over the world, reflecting Glasgow’s status as a significant global city during the Victorian era.

Things to do nearby

Glasgow Cathedral. Castle St, Glasgow G4 0QZ. 3-minute walk.
Founded in 1197, this is one of the largest Christian buildings in Scotland. Glasgow Cathedral is notable for its underground crypt and post-war stained-glass windows. Entry is free but donations are welcome.

Glasgow Cathedral

George Square. Glasgow G2 1DH. 14-minute walk.
Glasgow’s principal civic square is located in the heart of the city next to the grand City Chambers. This historic square was laid in 1781 and is ringed with statues of famous Scots.

St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. 2 Castle St, Glasgow G4 0RH. 2-minute walk.
A free-to-visit museum located next to Glasgow Cathedral. This museum features a collection of religious-themed artefacts, paintings and exhibits from all over the world. There is a café and gift shop on site.

Provand’s Lordship. 3 Castle St, Glasgow G4 0RH. 3-minute walk.
This museum is situated inside one of only four medieval buildings that survive in Glasgow. Built in 1471, Provand’s Lordship is furnished with a collection of 17th-century furniture and portraits. Entry is free.

The Glasgow Police Museum. First Floor, 30 Bell St, Glasgow G1 1LG. 13-minute walk.
This independent museum is dedicated to Britain’s first police force. There are exhibits of clothing and police memorabilia and knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer any questions. Entry is free but donations are welcome.

Frequently asked questions

How do I get to the Glasgow Necropolis?

Address: Castle St, Glasgow, G4 0UZ

Directions map: Google Maps

Is Glasgow Necropolis free?

There is no fee to enter the Glasgow Necropolis.

What is the difference between a cemetery and a necropolis?

The word ‘necropolis’ derives from the Greek nekropolis which means ‘city of the dead’. A necropolis is a very large burial ground that is usually complete with ornate burial tombs and gravestones.

A cemetery is a simple piece of land that has been set aside for people to be buried. The land is reserved solely for that purpose and is used to memorialize the dead.

Can you walk around the Glasgow Necropolis?

Visitors are welcome to walk around and explore the Glasgow Necropolis at their leisure. The Friends of The Glasgow Necropolis organize free walking tours that explain the history of the site and the people buried there.

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By Craig Neil

Craig Neil is a travel writer from Edinburgh with a passion for visiting Scotland's tourist attractions. Over the last 15 years he has explored Scotland from the Shetland Islands to the Scottish Borders, and he shares his travel experiences in Out About Scotland.