Category Archives: Memorials

Who Was Maggie Wall?

There is an interesting 20 foot high monument located near Dunning in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It isn’t interesting because it is attractive, far from it, when you view the large stones bound together with iron fetters, and a dedication handwritten in white paint. The interest lies in its history, and the memory of a woman named Maggie Wall who was burned as a witch in 1657.

CCL Gordon Brown geograph
Creative Commons License, Gordon Brown. Source:

In fact, there is no record of a Maggie Wall existing or being burned as a witch. Meticulous notes were kept of witch burnings which were rampant in Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries. Scotland has the unenviable title of being the biggest persecutor of witches with over 4000 alleged witches put to death. The rite of burning usually meant that the woman was strangled before being burned at the stake on a pyre of coal and tar. Six witches were accused in the parish of Dunning; Issobell Goold, Agnes Hutsone, Anna Law, Issobell McKendley, Elspeth Reid, and Jonet Toyes who was the last woman burnt as a witch in Scotland for using her daughter as a flying horse. It is feasible that the monument was erected as a memorial to all the persecuted women accused of witchcraft.

The monument is located on the former parklands of Duncrub Castle, seat of the Rollo family. During the 18th century plans of the Duncrub Estate identify a field with a stone perimeter called Maggie’s Walls. In 1866 a place named Maggie Walls Wood appeared on the ordnance survey map, and it is at this time that the monument appears in records.

So, many questions remain:
Is this the actual site of a witch burning?
If a follower of Satan was burned and died here, why is there a Christian cross atop it?
Who built the memorial?
Who regularly paints the inscriptions on the stones?
And most interestingly, as this story and memorial appears to be fake, why was it recorded as a Category B Historic Listed Building in 1971?


Shickluna Memorials

This memorial located in Victoria Lawn Cemetery, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada is in remembrance of three young children. They are the offspring of Joseph & Mary Shickluna and grandchildren of the celebrated Louis Shickluna.

Myra was born and died in 1879, Thomas (Tomey) Shickluna was born in 1875 and died on 28 August 1879 from acute dysentery. Leo also died from acute dysentery a few days later on 2 Sep 1879.

The memorial shows 3 young children seated around a lamb, a common symbol on the graves of children.
Myra aged 6 months Tomey aged 4 years Leo aged 15 months
Children of Joseph & Mary Shickluna

3 of shipbuilder Louis Shlickluna's children3DSCN4179

Weep not for me, dear parents dear.
I am not dead but sleeping here.
My glass is run; My age you see.
Wait but awhile and follow me.

The patriarch of the Shickluna family in Canada was Louis Shickluna who was born in Malta in 1808 into a family of shipbuilders. He emigrated to North America disembarking in Quebec and moving to the United States where he was employed as a ship construction worker in Youngstown, New York State. In 1835 he visited his family in Malta, probably to claim his inheritance from his wealthy parents. In 1838 he moved to Ontario, Canada to pursue opportunities with the recently completed Welland Canal at St. Catharines and became one the city’s most notable citizens with a reputation of being a skilled shipbuilder, constructing over 140 vessels including snub-nosed schooners designed to make maximum use of the canal locks, barkentines, steamers and other vessels designed primarily for service on the Great Lakes. He is recognized in Canada’s Maritime History and his story is detailed in a plaque unveiled on November 29, 1979 on Yates Street, St. Catharines, Ontario.


A prominent Canadian shipbuilder, Shickluna was born in Malta, where he worked before emigrating to North America disembarking in Quebec. By 1835 he was engaged in ship construction at Youngstown, New York. Three years later, attracted by the traffic stimulated by the Welland Canal’s completion in 1833, he purchased a shipyard on the Canal at St. Catharines. Shickluna steadily expanded his operations, which contributed significantly to the commercial prosperity of the region. Between 1838 and 1880 he directed the construction of over 140 schooners, barkentines, steamers and other vessels designed primarily for service on the Great Lakes, thereby promoting the development of inland navigation in Canada. Following Shickluna’s death, his son, Joseph continued to operate the St. Catharines shipyard until 1892.

Due to failing health and rheumatoid arthritis he left the shipyard to his sons. Following his death in 1880, (he is buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery, situated beside Welland Canal in east St. Catharines) his son, Joseph, continued to operate the St. Catharines shipyard until 1892.

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Louis Shickluna’s grave alongside the memorial to his grandchildren who died the year prior

Remah Cemetery

The Remah Cemetery established in 1552 is located in Kazimierz, an historic Jewish neighbourhood in Krakow, Poland. Bodies were no longer buried there after 1800 and the cemetery was more or less abandoned.

The cemetery is named after Rabbi Moses Isserles whose tombstone is one of the few that remained intact after destruction by the Nazis.


During the German occupation of Poland, the Nazis destroyed the cemetery tearing down the walls and hauling away tombstones to be used as paving stones in the work/death camps, or selling them for profit.

The cemetery has undergone a series of post-war restorations. As is common in contemporary Poland, all tombstones unearthed as paving stones have been returned and re-erected, although they represent a small fraction of the monuments that once stood in the cemetery.


A wall within the cemetery backing onto Szeroka Street was created with some of the broken headstones. It is known as the Wailing Wall.


Glen Cinema Disaster

On the afternoon of 31 December 1929, at an area of Paisley called Paisley Cross in Scotland, approximately 2000 children filled the Glen Cinema to watch a matinee. The film was put in its metal can in the spool room where it began to issue thick black smoke. (Nitrocellulose film which is highly flammable can burn without any supply of air.)

When smoke emerged from the film container, an attempt by the operator to smother the film caused the container to spring open releasing smoke and fumes into the vestibule. Everyone fled in panic towards the exits on either side of the screen causing a jam at the exit doors which were protected by a locked iron gate. Many who were crushed by the force of others died from asphyxiation.


Sixty nine children lost their lives ranging in age from four to fifteen, and almost as many were injured. The tragedy was reported as far away as Memphis, Tennessee. The horror of the event was recorded by the Glasgow Herald Newspaper the following day. To read the detailed report ,click this link.,90882&dq=glen-cinema&hl=en

The majority of the deceased are interred in Hawkhead Cemetery where a memorial is inscribed with the names of the victims and the words “To the memory of the seventy-one children who lost their lives in the Glen Cinema Disaster 31st Dec 1929“.

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geograph_Lairich Rig
Creative Commons License, Lairich Rig. Source:

Asylum Interments

There was a time in the latter part of the last century when facilities for those suffering from mental health issues were known as Hospitals for the Insane, State Colonies for the Feeble-Minded, Lunatic Asylums or Mental Institutions, and the regard for the patients was equally insensitive even in death. Many family members did not claim the bodies of their deceased relatives and they were buried in unmarked graves or graves identified with only a number.

Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot and Epileptic Asylum opened in 1842. Over population and a decrease in staff sadly led to mistreatment of patients. People died at an alarming rate and it is believed that 25,000 people are buried in the hospital grounds possibly in a mass grave. The Central State Hospital in Milledgeville as it became known closed in 2010. Cedar Lane Cemetery contains numbered iron markers of patients who died at the hospital. The historic marker at the cemetery states the following: In 1997 a cemetery restoration began here triggered a movement to memorialize patients buried at state psychiatric hospitals nationwide. After discovering nearby neglected cemeteries interred some 25,000 people, members of the Georgia Consumer Council pledged to restore the burial grounds and build a memorial. A grassroots campaign raised funds to erect the adjacent gate and display 2000. numbered iron markers displaced from graves over the years. A life-size bronze angel was placed 175 yards south of here to serve as a perpetual guardian.

Letchworth Village in Rockland County, Rockland County New York, opened in 1911 as a residential facility for the mentally and/or physically disabled. It closed in 1996 after years of reported abuse and a lack of funding. Graves are marked with rusting metal T-shapes embossed with a number.

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The Somerset and Bath Lunatic Asylum Cemetery in Wells, Somerset opened in 1874 and closed in 1991. The cemetery contains 2900 anonymous graves identified by numbered iron discs. A wooden sculpture by artist Peter Bolton lies on the ground beside the markers representing the anguish of mental health.

As recent as 2011, there was no road, no sign and no headstones for the 5776 patients buried at the Willard Asylum for the Insane. New York State operated 26 of these facilities.

Vermont Asylum for the Insane was founded  in Brattleboro in 1834 to care for the mentally ill. Initially deceased patients were buried in the Village Burying Ground (to later become Prospect Hill Cemetery), then the Asylum Burying Ground and finally in the Brattleboro Retreat Cemetery known as Fairview. None of the graves have identification.

“The eye of him that hath seen me shall
come no more. Why hast thou set in
me a mark against thee so that I am a
burden to myself? and why dost thee not
pardon my transgression and take away
mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the
dust and thou shalt seek me in the
morning, but I shall not be.” Sarah Culy


Between 1871 and 1953, there were 3200 patients buried at the Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Oregon. They were represented by numbered stones which sank beneath the surface of the ground.  A granite stone has been erected over a mass grave to mark their lives and deaths.


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The Longview Asylum opened in 1860 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The hospital cemetery contains the bodies of patients who were unclaimed or died indigent. Grave markers consist of small square cement blocks bearing a number.

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Spencer State Asylum Roane County, West Virginia, opened in 1893 closing almost 100 years later in 1989. Approximately 850 patients are buried on the hospital grounds.

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The Mississippi Lunatic Asylum was established in Jackson in 1848 and asylum patients were buried on the grounds. The cemetery which has been consecrated also contains the ashes of many anatomical donors and is the repository for the ashes of infants who died at UMC and whose families wished them to be buried there. A Ceremony of Remembrance honors them in a fall service.

“By their extraordinary gifts these dead have taught the living how to touch, through them, we touch the body of the world”. John Stone M.D.

This monument was dedicated on april 16, 1996 as a memorial to all those who have donated their bodies to the University of Mississippi Medical Center since 1955 for professional education and research.

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Public attitude has since changed 180 degrees with regards to mental health. Markers and/or memorial walls have been erected to recognize those who died and were buried with no ceremony. A new national memorial dedicated to the unnamed graves of the mentally ill broke ground at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. in 2009.


A cairn is a marker compiled of stacked rocks. Initially it was an ancient custom of burying the dead to protect the body from scavenging animals.

Cairns vary in size related to whether they are used as a marker for the dead, a memorial, or on trails as a guide.

Markers known as Inukshuk are used by the Inuit and other people of the Artic regions of North America for the purpose of navigation. The word ‘inuksuk’ means “something which acts for, or performs the function of a person’. The Inukshuk form has become a modern day custom of tourists to indicate ‘I was here.’

Vancouver, Canada

Cairns also marked the places where coffin-bearers rested when the walk to the burial ground was a long one e.g. St Cyril’s Church (Cille Choirille), in Glen Spean, near Roy Bridge in Scotland. Gravediggers recited the Gaelic Prayer before filling the grave in this cemetery which has the most incredible view of any in the Highlands.

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Glen Spean

The area around Inverness in Scotland is rife with cairns. The Clava Cairn is a circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of three cairns at Balnuaran of Clava,

Balnuaran of Clava
Balnuaran of Clava

The memorial built at the site of the former Aignish Farm on the islands of Lewis and Harris is a a tribute to the people who took action to recover their homes and livelihoods in the land struggles between landlords and crofters in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The design of two stone structures reflects the idea of confrontation. The jagged stones reflect the aggression and tension of the event.


This ‘new’ cairn, built by John MacKinnon of Arisaig, was erected on the shores of Loch nan Uamh by the Forty Five Association and unveiled on 4 October 1956. The plaque states: This cairn marks the traditional spot from which Prince Charles Edward Stuart embarked for France 20th September 1746. ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ who claimed to be the rightful heir to the thrones of England, Scotland, France and Ireland was supported by many Highland clans both Catholic and Protestant. Supporters known as Jacobites led risings to reinstate him to the throne.

am baile

One of the most famous Scottish cairns commemorates the Battle of Culloden, the last Jacobite rising, fought on Drumossie Moor, to the north east of Inverness in Scotland. The cairn was erected by Duncan Forbes of Culloden in 1881, in memory of the fallen Jacobites. The inscription on the plaque of the 20 foot high cairn reads :
‘The Battle of Culloden was fought on this moor 16th April, 1746. The graves of the Gallant Highlanders who fought for Scotland and Prince Charlie are marked by the names of their clans’

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In ancient Scotland, cairns were rallying points before battles and fights. Each man placed a stone on the ground upon arrival and removed it after the battle. The number of stones left was an account of the number of Clan members lost in the battle.

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David Izatt Photography


Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Baudin was a French medical doctor, a politician and a member of the National Assembly from 1849. While opposing the coup of Louis Bonaparte in Paris, Baudin attempted to motivate the workers to join the barricade by climbing atop it and was shot and killed in 1851. He was hailed as a martyr to the Republican cause.


Montmartre cemetery in Paris was the original burial site; his remains were later transferred to the Pantheon of Paris on 4 August 1889. The sculpture created by Aimé Millet in 1872 shows the bullet wound above his right eye.

An olive branch symbolizing peace rests between the tomb and a tablet on which his hand rests. The tablet is marked La Loi translated as The Law. A headstone attached to the tomb is inscribed; In memory of Alphonse Baudin representative of the people who died defending the law on December 3, 1851. Erected by his fellow citizens 1872.

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At the head of the tomb is a Masonic hexagram supporting a wreath.

The sculptured figure is so realistic that I find something newly interesting in each of these images. Light leaving the body and death taking over are suggested by shadows in the image below. It also speaks volumes through body language with head drooped to the side, feet apart, fingers resting on the ideals he fought for.