Of all the cemeteries I’ve visited so far (38 if you’re counting) the Glasgow Necropolis is the only cemetery that holds a special place in my heart.
Five years ago I began writing a novel that would eventually become book one of my urban fantasy series called The Reaper Chronicles. The novel was supposed to be a stand alone piece but the characters quickly grabbed hold of my heart and pushed me to write more. In a series where your characters spend most of their time in cemeteries, churches, chapels and morgues, it’s easy to see how my quest to visit 1,000 cemeteries began.
It was in book three that I first began writing of the Glasgow Necropolis. City of the Dead – that’s what the word Necropolis literally means in Latin. How cool is that? Okay, maybe I’m the only one obsessed with cemeteries.
The Necropolis intrigued me. The more I researched and wrote about it, the more I found myself wanting to see it in person. Built on a hill overlooking Glasgow, it’s the final resting place of more than 50,000 people!
So when we began planning our trip overseas, I made it very clear that Glasgow – and the Necropolis – were a must see. In fact, it was non-negotiable. I had to see it. I had to walk the grounds and piece together the real life cemetery with the one in my fictional world.
The day finally arrived on June 1. It was a beautiful day. The sky couldn’t have been bluer if it tried. As we approached the Glasgow Cathedral my heart began fluttering. I had been waiting for this moment for two years.
Past the Cathedral and through the gates, we walked across a bridge that led to the Necropolis. Immediately I was taken by the sheer size of it. Not only is it situated on a hill, which is imposing in itself, the monuments are unlike anything I’d ever seen. (Except, perhaps, Highgate Cemetery in London.)
By comparison Brandon, who is 6’2″, looked teeny tiny. As we stood at the base of the hill and looked up we could see layer upon layer of monuments. It reminded me of a tiered cake; each level was decorated with more beautiful stones than the last.
We began walking along the path upwards, stopping to snap photos along the way. Many of the gravestones revealed that several family members were buried together. It explains why a cemetery with over 50,000 interments has only about 3,500 monuments.
When we reached the very top, I stopped to appreciate the moment. I’d made it. I was there. It was overwhelming and I was emotional. I needed a moment to breathe.
It wasn’t just the grandeur of the cemetery, though it is amazing. It was because the Necropolis is an important and emotional setting for my characters and, if I’m completely honest, for me.
As I stood there I saw my novel come to life. I saw my characters walk around and interact with each other. I saw them deal with some pretty heavy shit and move forward from it. I saw myself there with them, which sounds crazy unless you’re a writer or someone who really gets immersed into a book.
This beautiful and somber city of the dead has become more important than any other cemetery I’ve written about or walked through. We’re all emotionally tied to people, places and things. It’s how we store memories. For me, the Glasgow Necropolis does just that. It ties me to my writing, my characters, and my place in this world as a writer.
If you’re a cemetery enthusiast like me, I’d recommend adding this one to your list. Plan to make a day of it, because trust me, you’ll need it. For more information on the Glasgow Necropolis, visit their website. To follow my quest to visit 1,000 cemeteries check out the hashtag #1000cemeteries on Instagram and Twitter and stay tuned here for future posts. To learn about my series The Reaper Chronicles, visit the My Writing section for a short blurb on book one The Reaper’s Bride. And lastly, to read more about our visit to Glasgow (and the rest of our travels) check out our travel blog Living Life Differently.