I visited the grave of Robert Haldane, who is buried, quite interestingly, inside the building of the Glasgow Cathedral. I say interestingly, because as independent congregationalists, both of the Haldanes rejected the state Presbyterian Church. Why would Robert Haldane be buried in the largest symbol of Scottish Presbyterianism in Glasgow, right under the shadow of a huge monument to John Knox, the man who brought the reformation—and Presbyterianism—to Scotland?
I don’t have an answer yet, but there is some evidence to start hypothesizing (or really, just jumping to some conclusions). Robert is buried in the tomb of his wife’s parents. According to a narrative I have read, he died in Edinburgh, where he and his brother were collaborating in church building, and he was buried the very next day in the Glasgow Cathedral. Robert’s in-laws were wealthy town-folk in Glasgow. His father-in-law was an attorney and merchant in the city, living in a fine estate. In contrast, Robert and his brother James had been wealthy. The brothers sold their Castle, called Gleneagles, used some of the money to fund their ministry, and gave the rest to the poor. Robert’s father-in-law, by contrast, kept his estate, his money, and had enough status, prestige, and money to purchase his entire family tombs in the Glasgow Cathedral. So, when Robert died, the family did what was easily and immediately available: they buried Robert in a place he would have never wished to be…..let alone en tombed.
Robert is buried in the floor of the Cathedral, near the stairs that take the viewer down to Saint Mungo’s tomb. Some of the family graves are marked G.O. with a number next to it. Robert’s tomb, however, is walked upon so frequently that the letters and numbering have completely warn off. Nothing is left to mark his tomb. To find his grave, you must locate the graves of family members and then count the stones to determine where he lies.
After visiting the Cathedral, I took a trip up to the Glasgow Necropolis – The Glasgow City of the Dead. The first monument in the Necropolis was a statue at the top of a large hill commemorating the death of John Knox, the reformer of Scotland. Ironically, Knox is buried in Edinburgh, not Glasgow. After Knox, others started placing their graves, along with their gaudy headstones and mausoleums, near by. In the Victorian era, the Necropolis took off as the “in” place to be buried. The architecture of the area is amazing. I had to think about the Necropolis eschatologically, however. The City of the Dead is beautiful, if not a big creepy, in its own way. I had to wonder what the Earth will look like without all of these huge monuments to human beings. What will Earth be like when the only monument that exists is one to the Living God, the New Jerusalem come down from heaven so that God may dwell with God’s people? I long to know, and so does Robert Haldane and John Knox.
Glasgow Necropolis, Cathedral Square, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Glasgow Cathedral, Castle Street, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Inside Glasgow Cathedral, looking at the tomb of Robert Haldane:
The Necropolis and Scenes of the Outside of the Glasgow Cathedral: