Sometimes some of the most beautiful and eerie places can be right on your doorstep and you never even know that they are there! That is what happened to me one afternoon on a walk through the woods a few months after moving to a new town. We were enjoying walking along some of the woodland trails when we suddenly happened upon the remains of a gate and driveway. Just around the bend lay an old abandoned graveyard. My husband grew up locally and knew all about it, and he had actually been leading me towards it as a surprise knowing that I would love to visit!
The Globe Cemetery has been in Motherwell, Scotland has been abandoned for going on 50 years or more. Unfortunately, there seems to be little or no information available about how old it is, although some of the headstones that we were still able to read do date back as far as the mid-1700s. Unfortunately, since the area closed it has fallen into disrepair. Several of the headstones have been vandalised and many lie broken or flipped over.
Since our first visit, there have been a number of projects designed to clear up the area. There are several first world war graves in the cemetery, so the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have been working to restore those graves. They have located which plots belong to veterans and marked them with wooden markers while the headstones are being restored or replace. There have also been clean up sessions with local community groups in an effort to pick up litter and remove the weeds. However, while it is sad to see the graves in such a state, there remains a haunting beauty about the place and of course, it is not without its share of ghost stories!
The White Lady of The Globe
The first thing that is noticeable on entering the cemetery is the eerie calm. While the rest of the woods are alive with birds, squirrels and other wildlife, the clearing that contains the cemetery is still and silent. There are no birds here. It is almost as if they stay away, understanding that this place belongs not to the living, but to the dead. On the odd occasion that we have walked the dog here he becomes agitated and clingy, choosing to stick close rather than explore like he would in other areas of the woods. Maybe this unease felt by the animals can be attributed to the white lady who haunts the area?
The tale of the white lady is tragic one. The story states that a young woman was to be married at The Old Mill which lies at the end of one of the many paths that converge on the cemetery. However, her intended never showed up and the woman was left brokenhearted at the thought that her love had jilted her at the alter. She was so distraught that she ran out of the mill and into the woods, running down the path the The Globe Cemetery. She ended up on the railway tracks and walked along to the high Viaduct known locally as ‘The Nine Arches’. It was here that she fell to her death, her body landing in the river and washing up on the riverbank at the cemetery. There were no witnesses, but it is largely believed that it was accidental rather than an intentional suicide. Perhaps she was startled by a passing train as she sat on the edge of the viaduct crying? It is now alleged that she haunts the graveyard, still in her white wedding gown and crying for her lost love. What makes this story even more tragic is that her husband to be had not in fact abandoned her! He had been on his way to the wedding when a rival for the girl’s affections intercepted him and delivered a beating. The groom arrived at the wedding hours later only to find his bride dead. I have never had the good fortune to see the white lady myself during my many visits, but my husband’s mother claims to have seen her passing through the trees when she used to walk there in her younger days.
Gone, But Never Forgotten
If you were to pay a visit to The Globe Cemetery, you might not see The White Lady, but you would be able to see some reminders of those who have gone before us. The graveyard has a mix of headstones from the 1700s all the way up to the 1950s and the people the commemorate come from all walks of life. There are ornate columns inscribed with names of multiple generations of the same family and basic unmarked paupers graves mixed together. The headstones tell of all manner of occupations from miners to navy officers. It is easy to spend an entire afternoon weaving between the headstones and reading the inscriptions.
A common theme throughout the cemetery is the draped urn. Urns have been synonymous with death for a long time, and the addition of a draped cloth indicates the veil between life and death. The placing of a draped urn on or near the grave indicates that the person’s soul has departed this life for the next.
Many of the headstones have gradually started to be reclaimed by nature and are now all but hidden amongst moss and ivy. However, it is the oldest stones that seemed to have stood the test of time better than the more modern ones. The lettering one some of the older stones is still as clear today as it would have been when it was carved, whereas many of the newer ones have become illegible over the years. It just goes to show how these skills have decreased over the years.
There are some truly beautiful headstones in the cemetery. Carved columns and pillars, ornate scrolls and intricate carving. However, they also stand side by side with plain rounded rectangles. The headstones are of all shapes and sizes. Giving us a little glimpse into the past, many of the stones reveal former occupations. This was once a bustling industrial town with many of the men employed in the steel industry and before that mining. A large number of the headstones here belong to miners.
Some of the larger stones document the passing of entire families. One particular stone column, pictured below, has 3 sides completely filled and half of the fourth with engravings charting the deaths of generation after generation of the same family. Even those who are buried elsewhere are memorialised on the stone with one person having passed away on the other side of the world in Australia. The most recent inscription dates back to the 1950s with nothing new added since then. Perhaps the remaining family members have moved away, or maybe there is no-one left to fill the remaining space. Whatever the reason, the stone now stands forgotten with nobody to tend it.
One of the most poignant things about this particular stone is the beautiful inscription at the base which reads:
“One by one we cross the river,
one by one we’re passing o’er.
May we all meet with sins forgiven
on that bright and happy shore.”
This seems to reference the fact that when the headstone was first purchased it was always intended to be used for all of the family members. The inscription talks of them all passing away one by one and being reunited on the other side which is really beautiful.
It is sad to see what was obviously once a beautiful cemetery now laying in ruins. The vandalism and littering is heartbreaking as it shows no regard for the dead. However, on the other hand, there is something inherently beautiful about the old and crumbling monuments to those that have left this world and the overall feel of The Globe Cemetery is calm, but eerie. There is a definite feeling of not quite being alone, but it is not a threatening presence – just a peaceful one silently watching and perhaps waiting for someone to remember them.
By Alyson Duncan
– About the Author
Alyson Duncan is a freelance writer with a passion for the weird and the wonderful! As an amateur paranormal investigator she spends much of her free time in dark abandoned buildings chasing shadows in the dark. Follow her on Twitter at @alyson_duncan.