WHERE IS IT? Just north of the city centre, across the M8 motorway, with the main entrance on Springburn Road
Sighthill Cemetery opened in 1840, spanning 46 acres over a large hill. The original plan was to use only 12 acres as burial spots, in a bizarre plan that involved measuring each grave from a central point of the hill using compass bearings.
However, by 1893 the entire acreage was being used, and a more traditional method of digging the graves was adopted. The hill stands 400 metres above sea-level and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Although lacking the grand tombs of the Necropolis, catering as it did to the city’s middle-class, it does feature the Martyr’s Monument, designed by James Leggat. Erected by public subscription in 1847, it was dedicated to the Radicals who demanded improvement to their working conditions through parliamentary reform in the 1820 Scottish Insurrection. The government wanted to cut the movement off at its head, and so sent agents undercover to stir these radicals to revolutionary action. Two weavers, John Baird and Andrew Hardie were persuaded to travel north and combine forces with fellow workers.
However, all that awaited them was an ambush by English troops and the hangman’s noose in Stirling.
Both bodies were re-interred in the cemetery the same year the monument was built. It is also dedicated to a third radical, James Wilson. He fell for the government rouse like his two fellow weavers and led a small army of men from Strathaven to Glasgow to join a platoon of French troops. Wilson realised the French were a fiction designed by the government, and returned to Strathaven, only to be arrested for treason. He too was hanged and beheaded, while 19 other men were convicted and transported to a penal colony in Australia.
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