There is a community up there, there must be; estimates suggest in the region of fifty thousand, the majority unmarked. The residents of the Necropolis look down on Glasgow, even its cathedral. This is no quiet wall and tree-sheltered enclosed cemetery, it stands high and proud, approached from St Mungo’s by a single-arched bridge that flies over Wishart Street, as though crossing the Styx; no pennies for the ferryman.
I had not done my research so this was a random visit; no appointments, no calling cards, just passing by to see who might be there. It started gently enough with William Miller hugging the side of the pathway, the ‘Laureate of the Nursery’ – author of Wee Willie Winkie. From there on it became a little more worrisome:
And then I came across this plain but elegant tomb:
My eyes were adjusted to the bright winter light so it was difficult to see inside the iron railings. I pushed up the iso setting on the camera, held it against an upright and let the sensor do its work on a long exposure. The white highlights are dust that has settled over the centuries, most dramatically on her face such that she appears to be staring, eyes wide open towards something we dare not see. I am not fond of the results:
Thanks to my dad, raised on scientific certainties, I am a fully paid up member of Cynics Incorporated but these dead communities give me the creeps – I keep thinking that a hand could have grabbed my arm from within the iron railings; I would have joined this closed community on the spot. A Daily Telegraph article by Hannah Betts has done nothing to improve my equilibrium: “My grandmother bedded down there next, innocent of that summer’s events, then refused to ever again. My mother braved it to prove her wrong. Next morning, the room was locked. When we quizzed her, she refused to divulge what had happened, saying only that it was “something to do with time”. Somehow this was – and remains – the most horrifying thing I had ever heard”. I recommend you read the full article here – a wonderfully composed ‘ghost’ story, just right for Christmas.
Sweet dreams everyone.