Glasgow Cenotaph

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Reference WMO/101074


George Square


G2 1DU


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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Cenotaph
  • Stone Granite
Lettering: Incised
  • First World War (1914-1918)
  • Second World War (1939-1945)
About the memorial: The large granite cenotaph is located in George Square. Set into the front face, near to the top, of the obelisk is a bronze sword. Below caved in relief is the city seal featuring a figure of St Mungo and an incised painted (black) inscription. To the top of the side face are two laurel wreath caved into the stone, below an incised inscription painted (black) and to the rear side 2No. bronze flag poles, with decorative laurel wreath mounting bracket. To the rear face centrally located a caved Imperial coat of arms, below 2No. incised painted (black) inscriptions. To either side a bronze flag pole. In front of the obelisk, a stone sarcophagus set into the ground bears a carved wreath. Enclosing the obelisk is a U shaped low level wall, with incorporated seating raised on a three stepped base. Flanking the wall are two couchant guardant lions. The B listed memorial is sited in front of Glasgow City Chambers. This is the principal monument to Glasgow’s dead killed during the Great War of 1914- 18. The imposing monument by sculptor Ernest Gillick, (1874-1951), and architect, John James Burnet was erected in 1924 and provides a dignified setting for Glasgow’s annual remembrance ceremony where the clergy, dignitaries and Council officials lay wreaths at the Stone of Remembrance. By far the most powerful argument for the setting of the Cenotaph monument arose from the historical and sentimental associations bound up with that particular part of George Square. It was here that Glasgow soldiers were recruited by successive Lords-Lieutenants, and hence they marched to war. It was here also that those who returned took the salute. Glasgow’s monument to the First World War is designed on a rectangular U-Plan, and consists of a central stepped area flanked by a pair of low walls terminating in giant couchant lions. A truncated obelisk (strictly, the cenotaph itself) rises from the eastern side, the upper part of which takes the form of a sarcophagus decorated with four carved wreaths. The central area contains a horizontal slab bearing a relief carving of a large palm leaf and a wreath. Between this and the cenotaph is a simple altar-like block known as the ‘war’ stone or ‘great’ stone. On the front of the cenotaph is a figure of St Mungo in a baldacchino (canopy), which is itself embedded in a Glasgow crest. Attached to the wall above this is a gilded metal cross sculpted into the form of a sword. The rear wall of the cenotaph has an Imperial coat of arms carved in relief and a set of six bronze wreaths attached to flagpoles. Plans to erect the monument were first proposed on 9 February 1920, by Sir James Waston Stewart, who called a public meeting. The monument was finally unveiled by Earl Haig on Saturday, 31st May 1924, in a ceremony attended by many thousands of spectators. Among the guests were Burnet himself and Lord Blythswood, the chairman of the committee supervising the construction, who formally asked the Lord Provost to accept the custody of the memorial on behalf of the Corporation and general body of the citizens. The inscriptions relating to the Second World War were added in 1945. A similar design, but on a smaller scale, was used by Burnet on his Hunter memorial (1925) in Glasgow University. The Glasgow Museums resource Centre holds in storage some early photographs of ex-servicemen laying wreaths. (ID - PP1979.113.2, PP.1979.113.3, PP.1979.113.4, PP.1979.113.5). Also the programme at the dedication ceremony, PP.1998.116.14, and a ticket PP.1991.54.34.
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The inscription reads ‘To the immortal honour of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of Glasgow who fell in the Great War. This memorial is dedicated in proud and grateful recognition by the City of Glasgow.’

B (Scotland)


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