Martyr’s Stone

This monument known as the Martyr’s Stone is set into the north east corner wall of Greyfriar’s Cemetery in Edinburgh.

The tomb was erected in 1706. The original structure contained a triangular pediment and two columns with scroll capitals with a large slab of white marble containing text (documented below), and beneath a carving of an open bible containing text from the book of Revelation ending with these words, ‘This tomb was first erected by James Curie, Merchant in Pentland, and others, 1706, renewed 1771.

As can be seen in the photograph hundreds of years of neglect and fierce weather has damaged the monument.

Martyr's Stone
Martyr’s Stone

Halt Passenger, take heed, what you do see,
This tomb doth shew, for what some men did die,
Here lies interred the dust of those who stood
Against perjury, resisting unto blood
Adhering to the Covenants, and laws
Establishing the same, which was the cause
Then lives were sacrificed unto the lust
Of Prelatists abjured. Though here their dust
Lies mixed with murderers, and other crew
Whom justice justly did to death pursue
But as for them, no cause was to be found
Worthy of death, but only they were found.
Constant and steadfast, zealous witnessing
For the Prerogatives of CHRIST their KING.
Which truths were sealed by famous Guthrie’s head
And all along to Mr. Renwick’s blood.
They did endure the wrath of enemies
Reproaches, torments, deaths and injuries
But yet they’re those who from such trouble came
And now triumph in glory with the LAMB.
From May 27th, 1661 that the most noble Marquis
Of Argyle was beheaded to the 17th of February 1688
That Mr. James Renwick suffered, were one way
Or other Murdered and Destroyed for the same cause, about
Eighteen thousand of whom were executed at Edinburgh, about an
Hundred of Noblemen, Gentlemen, Ministers and Others, noble
Martyrs for Jesus Christ. The most of them lie here.
For a particular account of the cause and manner of their Sufferings, see
The Cloud of Witnesses, Crookshanks, and Defoe’s histories.

Note: The National Covenant was a protest by Scottish Presbyterians against Charles I’s preference for a High Anglican form of worship which was considered too Catholic. The most fervent and well known protestors being:
Archibald, Marquis of Argyle
James Renwick, a Presbyterian Minister
James Guthrie, a minister at Stirling.


These gravestones have been wiped clean due to weather erosion, or from damage. A life once lived, now even the words of memorium are erased from the stone…

St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith,  Midlothian, Scotland
St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

Meek and gentle was her spirit
Prudence did her life adorn
Modest she disclaimed all merit
Tell me am not I forlorn
Yet I must and will resign her
She’s in better hands than mine
But I hope again to join her
In the realms of love divine.

St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith,  Midlothian, Scotland
St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

Of such is the kingdom of Heaven
Often I stood as you stand now
To view the dead as you do me
Ere long, and you shall lie as low
And others stand and look on thee.

St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith,  Midlothian, Scotland
St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

Tho’ lost to sight
To memory clear.

St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith,  Midlothian, Scotland
St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

Tis but a little tear is shed
For one to mem’ry dear
The tribute of my childhood days
Is but a little tear.

Lasswade Cemetery, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland
Lasswade Cemetery, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

As you were, you will always be
Treasured forever in our memory.

Copps Hill,  Boston, MA, USA
Copps Hill, Boston, MA, USA

Come near my friends and cast and eye
Then go your way, prepare to die,
Learn your doom, and know you must
One day like me be turned to dust. 1876

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Chinese & Japanese Gardens, Chinese Garden Road, Singapore

Representing two cultures of contrasting architectures, these gardens are set on adjacent islands in Jurong Lake linked by the Bridge of Double Beauty.

The Japanese Garden embraces classical Zen rock gardens, traditional summer houses, stone lanterns and gilded arched bridges. Plain and serene, it is intended to evoke feeling. Marble-chip paths let you hear your own footsteps and meditate on the sound.

The Chinese Garden features twin pagodas, arched bridges, pavilions, rockeries and a bonsai garden. Brightly colored buildings are integrated with the surroundings.

The statue of Confucius is located in the Chinese Gardens. Parents bring their children to the statue to pray as this is thought to bring filial piety and good grades at school.

Statue of Confucius
Statue of Confucius

The sayings of Confucius:
Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.

If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

Study the past if you would define the future.

We should keep the dead before our eyes, and honor them as though still living.

“The Master said, At fifteen I set my heart upon learning.
At thirty, I had planted my feet firm upon the ground.
At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities.
At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven.
At sixty, I heard them with docile ear.
At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.”

Robert The Bruce

There is much of interest in Melrose Abbey due to the burial place of the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce (famed King of Scotland in the early 14th century recently documented in the movie, Braveheart.) Although his heart is believed to rest on the abbey’s grounds, the rest of his body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey.

Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey

The 1996 summer archeological excavation of the Chapter House floor of Melrose Abbey was undertaken to increase knowledge of this important medieval building. The team from Historic Scotland investigated the lead container said to contain King Robert the Bruce’s heart which had been removed from beneath the Chapter House floor.

Under laboratory conditions in Edinburgh they drilled a small hole into the casket and looked inside with a fibre-optic cable and saw another casket. Opening the larger one carefully they found a small conical lead container and an engraved copper plaque which said;

“The enclosed leaden casket containing a heart was found beneath Chapter House floor, March 1921, by His Majesty’s Office of Works.”

Conical object containing heart
Conical object containing heart

The smaller conical casket is about 10 inches high and 4 inches in diameter at the base tapering to a flat top about one and a half inches in diameter. Despite being pitted with age it was in good condition. Richard Welander, one of the investigators, said that although it was not possible to prove absolutely that it is Bruce’s heart, “We can say that it is reasonable to assume that it is”. There are no records of anyone else’s heart being buried at Melrose.

The casket containing the heart was not opened, and remained in Edinburgh until it was buried again during a private ceremony at Melrose Abbey on 22 June 1998. On the 24th June, coinciding with the anniversary of the victory of Bruce’s army over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Scottish Secretary of State, Donald Dewar, unveiled a plinth over the place in the abbey grounds where the heart is now buried.

Marker for resting place of Robert Bruce's heart
Marker for resting place of Robert Bruce’s heart

The inscription reads:
A Noble Hart May Have Nane Ease
Gif Freedom Failye
Translated this means, A noble heart can have no rest if freedom is lacking.



A frequent feature on gravestones, the skull is a symbol of death, mortality, penitence, and sin. It appears in several formats.

Symbolic of crucifixion, death, and mortality.
The fear which this ancient symbol of death inspires led pirates to adopt it as an emblem upon their black flags and chemists to use it to denote poison. The combination when it appears on tombstones means, “He  is dead.”

Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

See yonder flower that scents the air
How sweet it blooms
How swift it fades!
Just such is man in youth how fair
How chang’d his form when death invades!
Yet fades the flower to bloom again
And we shall rise with Christ to reign.

St. Nicholas, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland
St. Nicholas, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

As measured notes of set music we pass in fast or slow marches to the grave.

St. Nicholas, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland
St. Nicholas, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland

Gently this spot in solemn silence tread
Let none disturb the relics of these dead
Their souls have waft themselves to God on high
But here all round this stone their bodies lie.

Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

In my Father’s house are many mansions.

It is interesting to note that this skull is accompanied with only one bone. Curious and puzzling.

Athelstaneford Parish Churchyard, East Lothian,  Scotland
Athelstaneford Parish Churchyard, East Lothian, Scotland

Lo!  Lost remembrance drops a pious tear
And holy friendship stands a mourner here.

This sculptured panel contains only the crossbones, and they are intersected with workman’s tools; a pick, a shovel, and a spade.

Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland
Greyfriars Cemetery, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord
They rest from their labours and their works do follow them.

The skull represented here also displays crossed arrows and an hourglass, both of which symbolize mortality.

Lasswade Cemetery, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland
Lasswade Cemetery, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland

I am the Resurrection and the Life
He that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live.

The badly eroded stone displays a dove flying above a skull and represents the resurrection of the soul.

Campbellville Burying Ground, Campbellville, ON, Canada

A winged skull symbolizes the ascension into heaven, and the flight of the soul from mortal man.
Sometimes called death’s heads or winged death, it represents the fleeting nature of life and impending death. It was once a common motif on New England tombstones.

80% of the carvings on gravestones in Copps Hill Cemetery, Boston, bear the winged skull symbol.

Copps Hill, Boston, MA, USA
Copps Hill, Boston, MA, USA

Skull lyes

No flat ring marble rules the traveler here
The spot is sacred to affections dear
He was in life what artful men pretend
Companion, parent, neighbour, Christian, friend. 1802

Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA
Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA

Hail sweet repose not shall we rest
No more with sickness be distressed
Here from all sorrows find release
Our souls shall dwell in endless peace. 1789

King's Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, MA
King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, MA

No longer was my  life
No longer was my breath
God called me home in early life
Because he thought it best. 1805

King's Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, MA
King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, MA

Though far from home in distant land
My flesh returns to dust
In hopes to rise when Jesus calls
And dwell among the just. 1808

Old Burial Ground, Brewster, MA
Old Burial Ground, Brewster, MA

Life’s painful toils are over
Its pilgrimage is ended
And to a  purer happier shore
Her spirit hath ascended. 1808


California Missions

It is in my bucket list to visit every one of the 21 Missions spread along the California coastline from Solano north of San Francisco to San Diego. The Missions are individually beautiful and serene, a photographer’s dream. They are each listed as California Registered Historic Landmarks.

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Founded in 1770, the mission was once the headquarters of all California missions, and is a National Historic Landmark.

This is one of the most beautiful places in the world, peaceful and serene. Colourful plants grow in every corner of the garden, and the abundant blooms of a wisteria cascade from the interior wall. Inside the courtyard, a central stone fountain is surrounded with adobe buildings and a bell tower. The adjacent cemetery, Campo Santos Cemetery, is very small and does not contain many gravestones although there are several statues of the Virgin Mary. One stone is inscribed ‘Old Gabriel aged 151 years’. Other small statues are inset into the walls.

San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission
San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission
San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission - St. Benedict
St. Benedict

Mission San Diego De Alcala, San Diego

Established in 1769 and known as the Mother of the Missions it is built around courtyards leading into and around the church. Whitewashed adobe walls and red slate roofs contrast perfectly with green foliage resulting in a crisp clean image. Statues of saints sprout out of the vegetation. A bell tower containing five bells is rung to announce every mass.

God builds his temple in the heart on the ruins of churches and religions. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mission San Diego De Alcala
Mission San Diego De Alcala
Mission San Diego De Alcala
Mission San Diego De Alcala

Mission San Jose, Fremont

Mission San Jose was founded on June 11, 1797 by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen. A fully developed mission, and a self-sustaining village, it was occupied by local natives, a few soldiers, several artisans with families, and one or two priests.

The cemetery is small, and as the gravestones are very old the Mission has requested that visitors do not stray from the paths. Not all the Catholics in the region were Spanish. A few graves are inscribed with French names and a number of Irish. The mission has been pummeled by earthquakes.

Mission San Jose
Mission San Jose
Mission San Jose
Mission San Jose

Mission San Francisco Solano, Sonoma

Established on July 4, 1823 it was the 21st Mission in California. An original adobe church once stood in the courtyard. The Mission served the parish of Sonoma until 1881 when the building was sold. Only five rooms of the original Mission remain. The Mission was rebuilt after it was destroyed by the 1907 earthquake.

Mission San Francisco Solano
Mission San Francisco Solano

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Luis Obispo

Founded in 1772, it is the only mission with an L shaped church. It stands in its original location in a valley known as the Valley of the Bears.

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Mission San Rafael, Arcangel, San Rafael

The original Mission was burned to the ground in 1870.  A Parish church was built in 1919 and in 1949 a replica of the original 1817 Mission was built.

Mission San Rafael Arcangel
Mission San Rafael Arcangel

Mission Santa Clara de Asis, Santa Clara

The 1771 Mission is located in the centre of the Santa Clara College campus. It houses the original bells from Spain and is a beautifully maintained, working church. The grounds merge into the university campus and are meticulously manicured.

Mission Santa Clara de Asis
Mission Santa Clara de Asis

Mission San Luis, Rey de Francia, Oceanside

Located on a hill overlooking Oceanside it was founded in 1798. It is the largest of the Missions and was the most prosperous.

Mission San Luis, Rey de Francia
Mission San Luis, Rey de Francia

Mission San Antonio de Padua, Jolon
This Mission is located in Jolon in Monterey County and was founded in 1771. It is famous for its campanario and archway bells.

As a white candle in a holy place
So is the beauty of an aged face. Joseph Campbell

San Diego de Presidia 
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Tertullian

Monterey Presidio, Monterey
As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many. William Bradford

Santa Ysabel, San Diego
Into the earth I go down, go down,
Noting but earth will I be seeing, will I be seeing,
I sink down into the old river-bed, down into the interior. Yuman saying


This posts reflects various types of tragedy.

Evergreen Cemetery, Milton, Ontario, Canada.
Poor Betty was killed on her way home from school by a car.
A little flower of love
That blossomed but to die
Transplanted now above
To bloom with God on high.

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, California, USA
Created in 1892 this non denominational cemetery stretches for acres. A stone monument is dedicated to the lives lost in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
CA_Cypress Lawn_earthquake (2)

CA_Cypress Lawn_earthquake

CA_Cypress Lawn_earthquake data

Anchor Green at the Harbour, North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland
A red granite Celtic Cross with the inscription: Erected in memory of Catherine Watson of Glasgow, aged 19, who drowned in the East Bay, 27th July 1889 while rescuing a drowning boy. The child was saved, the brave girl taken.’
NBerwick cross

N Berwick_celtic cross
Gone is the face we loved so dear
Silent the voice we loved to hear
Memory is a golden chain
That binds us till we meet again.

Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France
The Dikerman family were exterminated in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942 .
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes for the former things are passed away.

Garden City Skyway Bridge Memorial
This monument is in Merrit Park beside the Welland Canal under the Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. It is dedicated to the memory of Conrad Stenzel, Douglas Shand, David McKinley and Gordon Thomas who were killed during a workplace accident whilst working on the Skyway bridge. The four painters fell to their death on June 8, 1993 when the scaffolding upon which they were working collapsed.
The busy world is hushed
The fever of life over and our work done.

Mors Ianua Vitae: Death is the gate of life