Tag Archives: Midlothian

More Questions Than Answers

This gravestone is located in St. Nicholas Churchyard in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. The inscription has disappeared due to weather erosion which is also attacking the sculptured effigies. Although this stone hosts common mortality symbols of Memento Mori in the hourglass, arrows and the skull the remainder is difficult to interpret.

Dalkeith_St Nicholas_men

On a humourous note, the skull on the bottom left appears to be wearing sunglasses.

Is the floating image a mother looking down from Heaven on her children? Note how this figure seems to be casually resting on her hand. Is this actually a female or a male as period dress may indicate? What is the triangular shape the figure is holding in the left hand? Are the cherubs below children or representative of angels?

What are the cherubs holding onto? Is it the wings of a winged effigy or a shroud/drape which denotes mourning and often borders a dedication? Or is the entire scene related to a Fraternity?

What is the boat shaped item? A similar symbol is found in the Old Town Cemeteries in Stirling, Scotland.


Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/europealacarte/2245476877/in/dateposted/


Eilidh Marsali Macfarlane-Barrow, as the eldest of six children of Reverend James Humphrey Copner Macfarlane-Barrow and Alice Maie Campbell-Orde, is listed in a genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain. Born on 31 July 1919, she died unmarried on 24 August 1968 at age 49.

Her stone marker is situated in a small graveyard in the grounds of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Rosewell, Midlothian, Scotland.

Pray for the soul
Marsali Eilidh
Born 31-7-1919 at Lochgilphead
Died 22-9-1968 at Rosewell
Our loving sister whose life on earth
Was one of innocence and simplicity
So kindly cared for by the devoted
Sisters at St. Joseph’s Rosewell
May the power and majesty of the Lord
Enliven her soul for all eternity in
The kingdom of Heaven.
Cloir do dhia anns ma h-ardaibh         
Erected by her brothers – 1998

Rosewell_St. Josephs (2)*Translation of the Gaelic phrase is Worship your god in Heaven

St Joseph’s Hospital was a custodial institution established in 1924 by the Daughters of Charity (Roman Catholic nuns). The institution catered to children and adults with learning disabilities until it was closed in 1999. The nuns who operated under the banner of St. Vincent de Paul Society are currently being investigated for the abuse of patients in their care.

Old Pentland Kirkyard

Just back from Scotland where I discovered this ancient graveyard on the outskirts of Edinburgh: Old Pentland Cemetery, Damhead, Midlothian.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (7)

This cemetery was once home to a 13th century church which served the parish. A small watch house (a guard house to prevent grave robbing) inside the gates contains two stones known as the Arnold stones discovered in 1856 by Thomas Arnold. Chiselled into the stones are a Fleury cross, a calvary cross base and a sword. The cemetery is owned by the Gibsone Trust.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (6)

Within the only mausoleum on the grounds is a plaque with two angels flanking the Gibsone family crest and a dedication inscribed: Sacred to the memory of the late Sir John Gibsone of Pentland Bart who died March 1781 aged 48? Years. He was endowed with every virtue which became the Christian, the Gentleman, and the Scholar and died universally respected and lamented.
He married May 1774, Henrietta, eldest daughter of James Watson of Saughton and Lady Helen Hope who died 8th of March 1803 aged 63 years. This is erected by their only child Mrs. Helen Gibsone of Pentland.
Also in memory of Mrs. Helen Gibsone of Pentland only daughter and heiress of the above Sir John Gibsone who died 24th October 1843 In her 69th year.
And in loving remembrance of Jack Gibsone, Laird of Pentland, who died 30th December 1992, aged 84 years, a true gentle man.

Many of the inscriptions on the headstones have been eroded due to the weather or completely obliterated.

Erected to the memory of Andrew Finlayson late Mason at Loudon Burn who died the 8th October 1811, aged 55 years.
Also lies here Anne Finlayson his mother who died the 16th March 1755, aged 61 years and Andrew Finlayson his father who died 12 of November 1787 , aged 50 years.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (4)

Here lies Robert Umpherston tenant in Pentland who died March 2nd 1624 aged 31.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (14)

Here lies the dust of McJohn McNeil preacher of the gospel at Loanhead who died Dec 1702? in the 66 year of his age. A ? adherent to the covenanted testimony of the Church of Scotland in principle in practice and ? witness against ………..
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (15)

The corps of Charles Brown who departed this …1661…..
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (18)

Here lies Archibald Grieve preacher of the gospel licensed by the Reformed Presbytery at Peebles , June the 7th and who died at Pentland much lamented Oct 3rd 1760, aged 26 years.
How soon this rising star did disappear He fell the church did mourn and friends did dear.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (19)

Apparently women did not outlive their husbands in the 17th and 18th centuries as evidenced by the following markers.

Here lies James Pennycook shepherd and tenant in Leaps who died in Pentland Oct 14, 1761, aged 83 years.
Also his first spouse Janet Baillie who died Oct 1710. And Marion Hodge his next spouse who died April 13th, 1732, aged 46 years.
Also two of his children Isobel and Elisabeth who died in their infancy.
Likewise his grandchild James Grinton who died March 1755 in the 8th year of his age.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (2)

1793 Here lies interred the body of John Waterston who died June 16, 1792, aged 79 years. He was first married to Katharine Lumsdain by whom he had two children James & Janet Waterston, and afterwards to Jean Graham who died without issue. This stone was erected by James Waterston his son.
8 feet square of ground belongs to this stone
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (11)

This stone was erected by James Barrowman Smith Reid Combs to the memory of Isabell Fowler his spouse who died Dec 15, 1788, aged 43 years.
Also Margaret Carens his second spouse who died March 18, 1806 aged 47 years.
Also four of his children who died young.
Also two of his grandchildren Isabell Simpson who died March 5 1810, aged 7 years and Jean Barrowman who died August 17, 18??…
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (3)

In memory of Isabella Thomson wife of Charles Robertson, Bilston Inn died 6th February 188? Aged 43 years and of the above Charles Robertson died at Silverburn 7th April 1906 aged 69 years.
Also his son Hugh Lamond died 12th April 1919 aged 34 years and his granddaughter Alison died 7th October 1897 aged 10 months.
Mary Meldrum his 2nd wife died 5th February 1921 aged 77
Also Colour Sergeant Alexander Robertson 98th Regiment and Catherine Robertson his sister who lie buried in St. Cuthberts Churchyard.
Damhead_Old Pentland Cemetery (8)

12th Century Church

This historic Church of Scotland is located on the High Street in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland. It is believed that a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas has existed there since the early 12th Century.

High St East_St. Nicholas 1

In 1406, Sir James Douglas built and founded a Collegiate Church in the same location. The church and graveyard were located in the centre of town on the north side of the High Street ensuring that no individual living within the parish of Dalkeith was required to walk further than three miles to worship.

The ruined apse and chancel (areas containing the altar and the choir) contained two recumbent stone effigies marking the burial locations of Sir James Douglas, 1st Earl of Morton, and his wife Joanna, daughter of King James I.

Considered monuments of idolatry by the Reformation, the apse was abandoned and sealed from the rest of the church by a wall in 1592. Some parts of the building were allowed to fall into decay following the Reformation and eventually the roof collapsed. The old section of the church remains without a roof.

High St N_St Nicholas

In 1650 Oliver Cromwell and his troops crossed the border into Scotland with the intention of capturing the city of Edinburgh and set up headquarters in the parish church. Soldiers broke open the poor box, set fire to furniture and used the space to stable their horses. The sacristy (a room where vestments and other things of worship are kept) was used as a prison.

In the early 18th century, the sacristy which had continued to be used as a jail became a burial vault for the Buccleuch family (Scottish peerage and local landowners).

High St East_St. Nicholas_vault

The church was greatly altered in 1854, and the walls of the original church were embedded within the present building. A fire which destroyed the steeple in 1885 caused two 300 years old bells to crash to the ground.

The church was restored once more in the 1930s, and in 1979 the church was renamed St. Nicholas Buccleuch.

In 2005, the 21st Earl of Morton unveiled the newly-repaired Morton Monument. The 16th century figures had been carefully restored and looked magnificent. Morton said at the ceremony: “I think this has been a great achievement for all the people concerned in putting this together. It is a great achievement for the people of Dalkeith.”

The Alms Collection House, adjacent to the main gate, is thought to be the only building of its kind: built specifically for the purpose of collecting alms.


The attached graveyard was blogged previously, see https://wordsonstone.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/st-nicholas-churchyard/




Temple’s Old Kirk Graveyard

Just back from a visit to Scotland where there are a multitude of century old cemeteries just waiting to be photographed and documented.


The village of Temple in Midlothian, Scotland is named after the famous military order of the Knights Templar. The Order of the Temple was founded to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land against attack by the Saracens.

The ruins of the old parish church date from the early 14th century. The late Gothic tracery can still be seen with animals carved at both ends of the mouldings above the windows.

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In the churchyard are many interesting headstones including the memorial to the farmer at Outerston, John Craig, who died in 1742. He is shown in his best clothing and with his children.
Here Lyes John Craig / Farmer In Outerston / Who Died April 23 1742 / Aged 68 Years ~ Also / His Son William / Craig Late Farmer In / Outerston illegible Who Died 1799

This gravestone contains symbols representing tools used in the trade of Masonry (the builder); a compass, a ruler, a hand brace and a hammer.

Another gravestone with Masonic tools; a compass, a square and three blocks, one of which has a nail at the top which may represent a hinge.

Erected / In Memory Of / Andrew Murray / Who Died illegible Aged Illegible / Also Mary Melrose His Wife / Who Died illegible / Agnes Murray Their Daughter / Who Died Illegible / illegible Murray Their Son

In / Fond / Remembrance / Of / Wee Ian / Beloved Son Of / Frank & Isabella Bain / Who Died At Fountainside / 7th October 1925, Aged 5 ½ Months

Memorial to Miners

Easthouses is a suburb of the town of Dalkeith in Midlothian, Scotland. The Easthouses pit, now closed,  was owned by the Marquess of Lothian.

Memorial to Miners killed in Easthouses Pit
Memorial to Miners killed in Easthouses Pit

In Memoriam

This memorial is dedicated to the memory of those miners who died in accidents at Easthouses Drift Mine between 1906 and 1969.

John Smith, a pumper aged 67, died on 19 November 1960. Owing to repairs in the shaft he was unable to descend and went to go to work a pump, of which he had charge, by an in-going-eye from the surface; he did not get to the pump, and was missed for a day and search was made, when he was found at the entrance to the in-going-eye quite dead; his death was due to natural causes. (IN-GOING-EYE: a drift or mine starting from the surface of the ground; also the end of the mine at the surface.)

James Knight was killed on 2 February 1926.

Thomas McQue was killed on 14 January 1930 by a fall of material from the roof. M’Que was 45 years of age, and resided at Montieth’s Close, High Street, Dalkeith. He left a widow and a son aged 4 years.

Alexander Fulton, a miner aged 40, died on 18 May 1935 in hospital after being injured several days earlier when a fall of coal occurred in the underground workings. Fulton, who resided at 5 Elmfield Bank, Dalkeith, leaves a widow and three children.

John Taylor, an oversman aged 45, was killed by a fall of stone on 20 November 1938. (OVERSMAN: A person subordinate to the manager, in charge of underground operations.)

John Fairgrieve, a coal crusher attendant aged 31, was caught in a coal-cutting machine on 23 November 1944.

James Galloway, a colliery engineman aged 58, died of heart failure after being struck by a carriage on 25 November 1944.

Murdoch Mckenzie, a coal miner aged 32, was struck by material from shot and killed on 31 December 1946. (SHOT: A blast of gunpowder, or other explosive.)

Thomas Docherty, a brusher aged 51, was killed by a fall of stone on 5 August 1952. (BRUSHER: a person who removes part of the roof or pavement by blasting or otherwise in order to heighten the roadway.)

Frank Watkins, a coal miner aged 47, was killed on 3 October 1952 when he was crushed by two moving hutches. (HUTCH: A small wagon for conveying mineral.)

William Hay Hill, an oncostman aged 46 was killed on 9 June 1956 when he fell from a roof. (ONCOSTMEN: All workmen other than miners paid by days’ wages.)

Alexander Johnston Farquhar, a mine driver aged 36, was killed on 20 December 1957 when scaffolding collapsed and he fell down the pit shaft. (MINE DRIVER: a person who cuts or excavates.)

John Hall Bald, a face worker aged 47, died on 11 September 1958 when he was struck by a steel prop and crushed against a steel arch. (FACE WORKER: a miner who works a wall of mineral.)

David Hogg, a brusher aged 51, was killed by a fall of stone on 9 August 1961. (BRUSHER: a person who removes part of the roof or pavement by blasting or otherwise in order to heighten the roadway.)

Rudolf Robert Rother, a faceman aged 35 years, was killed when he fell from a roof on 18 June 1963. (FACE WORKER: a miner who works a wall of mineral.)

Alexander Shirkie, aged 23, killed on 9 February 1965.

Ne obliviscaris (Latin meaning Forget Not)

Erected by Mayfield and Easthouse Retired Branch of the National Union of Mineworkers & Midlothian Council.

Unveiled by Provost Sam Campbell
28 May 2006






Mining Tragedies

It’s dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew,
Where danger is doubled and pleasures are few,
Where the rain never falls and the sun never shines
It’s dark as a dungeon way down in the mine.

~Merle Travis~

Aberfan, Wales

On 21 October 1966 in the Welsh village of Aberfan people were going about their business until a sudden thunderous noise alerted them to the collapse of the colliery tip caused by a build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale. Over 40,000 cubic metres of debris suddenly slid downhill and engulfed the Pantglas Junior School and about 20 houses in the village before coming to rest.

Rescue efforts, which were hampered by more debris coming down the mountain, lasted for a week.The catastrophe claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults who died from impact or suffocation. The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and parliament passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries.

Stone memorials were erected in Aberfan Cemetery for the majority of the victims after the disaster.

Benxihu, China

The worst coal mining disaster in history occurred on 26 April 1942 in the coal mine, located near Benxi in the Liaoning province of China. It was caused by a mixture of gas and coal dust which created a fatal explosion underground shooting fire out of the mine shaft entrance. To deprive the fire of oxygen, the ventilation system was shut off and the pit head was sealed. An electric fence was erected around the pit to prevent relatives of the miners from entering. The catastrophe claimed 1,549 lives. It took workers ten days to remove all the corpses and rubble from the shaft. The dead were buried in a mass grave nearby. Later, the Japanese erected a monument to the dead which stated the number of dead to be 1327.

Courrieres, France

The second deadliest coal mining disaster in history occurred in France. The catastrophe occurred on 10 March 1906 due to a massive explosion sparked by an underground fire in one of the pits of the Courrieres Colliery.

The underground fire was detected the day before the explosion and ground openings were closed to starve the fire of oxygen. The following morning a huge underground explosion caused a blast on the surface that killed 1,099 comprised of miners as well as people on the surface.

The disaster led to strikes demonstrating against the mining company who continued to operate when the fire had been discovered, and the managers who stop searching for survivors after only three days.


Fraterville, TN, USA

On May 19, 1902 at 7:30am near Fraterville, Tennessee, an oil lamp sparked a methane explosion which killed 216 men (until that point there had been a total of 219 men in the town.) Hundreds of women were widowed, and approximately a thousand children were left fatherless.

A large monument containing the names of 184 identified miners killed in the explosion is encircled by concentric circles of 89 graves. It is known as the Fraterville Miners’ Circle and is located at Leach Cemetery in the nearby town of Coal Creek.

The bodies of 30 unidentified miners were buried in a mass grave not far from the mine. It is marked with a historical plaque on Slatestone Road in Briceville.

Route 116 which connects Fraterville and Briceville has been renamed “Fraterville Miners Memorial Highway” in honor of the victims of the mine explosion.




Madeley, Shropshire, England

Nine miners were killed when the chain attached to the winding apparatus gave away during their ascension from the Lane Pit. They died at the end of their shift on 27 September 1864. Four of the dead were boys under the age of 16.

Monongah, WV, USA

The Monongah Coal Mine Disaster which occurred on 6 December 1907 was caused by a firedamp and coal dust explosion in two mines at the Monogah mine facility operated by Fairmont Coal Company. The explosion devastated the ventilation system, boiler-house, fan and the openings of an additional mine. Italian immigrants were the majority of the 362 victims.

monongah_mining technology

Durham, Northumberland, England

A memorial to Thomas Hepburn, miners’ champion and trade union leader. He worked as a minor from the age of 8 and later intiated the first great union of Northern Miners in 1831 and conducted the strike of 1832. With great forbearance and ability his life was spent in advocating shorter hours of labour and extended education for miners.

Plymouth, PA, USA

On September 6, 1869, a massive fire at the Avondale Colliery started when the wooden lining of the mine shaft caught fire and ignited the coal processing plant built directly overhead. The fire trapped and suffocated 108 of the workers. Two rescuers also died bringing the death toll to 110.

avondale mine disaster

Pretoria, Lancashire, England

The Hulton Colliery, known locally as Pretoria Pit, employed 2500 local men and boys, many from the same family. The day before the disaster occurred, a large fall of roof caused a build-up of gas and miners had complained of gas in the mine and also sparking on a conveyor switch.

On 21st of December 1910, 900 men clocked on for the morning shift. A tremendous explosion that travelled a mile underground killed 344 men and boys who were comprised of miners and colliery employees.

Wakefield, Nottinghamshire, England

A national pit strike in 1984 drew miners from around the country to the picket lines. David Jones, a Wakefield miner, was picketing at Ollerton colliery when he was hit by a brick on March 15th 1984. He died from chest injuries several hours later.

Whitesville, WV, USA

The Upper Big Branch Mine disaster occurred on April 5, 2010 as a result of a high methane levels causing a coal dust explosion in Montcoal, West Virginia. 29 men were killed.

The Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial in Whitesville, WV which was dedicated in 2012 consists of a 48-foot black granite monument with life-size etched silhouettes of twenty-nine miners. The names of all twenty-nine miners killed and the two survivors are listed on the reverse side of the monument which also gives a brief summary of the coal industry in West Virginia. The memorial also includes a bronze sculpture and plaque recognizing the local first responders and mine rescue teams from West Virginia and neighboring states that aided in recovery efforts.




A miner stood at the Golden Gate
His head was bent and low.
He meekly asked the man of fate
The way that he should go.
“What have you done,” Saint Peter said,
“To gain admission here?”
“I merely mined for coal,” he said,
“For many and many a year.”
St. Peter opened wide the gate,
And softly tolled the bell.
“Come and choose your harp,” he said
“You’ve had your share of hell.”

Easthouses, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland
Easthouses, Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland