St John’s Episcopal Church located at
the foot of Glen Coe on the shore of Loch Leven has to be one of the most picturesque locations for a
graveyard. In late May and early June, the grounds are blanketed by a sea of
Within the grounds a small stone storehouse with slate roof surmounted by a wooden cross was converted to a chapel in the late 1700s. The existing church was built in 1842.
Most of the graves marked by cast iron botonee crosses are identified only by a number.
Many of the gravestones were made from durable slate, hence the clarity of engravings and dedications.
Just back from Scotland where I discovered this ancient graveyard on the outskirts of Edinburgh: Old Pentland Cemetery, Damhead, Midlothian.
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.
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.
Here lies Robert Umpherston tenant in Pentland who died March 2nd 1624 aged 31.
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 ………..
The corps of Charles Brown who departed this …1661…..
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.
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.
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
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??…
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.
In the historic cemetery known as Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in Edinburgh is the tomb of the Mylne family who were architects and master masons to the Kings of Scotland. Enclosed with an iron fence the memorial is attached to the east wall of a tenement building on Candlemaker Row. The tomb contains the remains of John Mylne, Robert Mylne, William Mylne and Thomas Mylne.
The pediment at the top of the memorial hosts two cherubs flanking the heraldic shield of the Mylne family identified by a knight’s armoured helmet, and a shield containing a Patonce cross with three 5 point stars.
Directly beneath the shield is a grotesque representing a dragon. Additional examples of Memento Mori are present in winged effigies, skulls, an hourglass and crossed torches.
The main inscription written in Latin is displayed in Drapery held in the mouth of a ram: “John Mylne, who, at the expiry of fifty-five years of this frail life, sleeps softly here, sixth Master-Mason to the King of the family of Mylne, of remarkable skill in the building art, frequently Deacon-Convener of the Trades of Edinburgh, the circumspect and faithful representative of the metropolis on several occasions in the public Parliament of the Kingdom; a man adorned with gifts of mind above his condition in life, of a remarkably handsome person, upright, sagacious, pious, universally respected.
Robert, his brother’s son, emulous of his virtues, as well as his successor in office, has, out of gratitude, erected this monument, such as it is, to his uncle. He died 24th Dec. 1667, in the fifty-sixth year of his age.
John Mylne’s character is described in a smaller shield: Great artisan, grave senator, John Mylne,
Renown’d for learning, prudence, parts, and skill,
Who in his life Vitruvius’ art had shown,
Adorning others’ monuments: his own
Can have no other beauty, than his name,
His memory and everlasting fame.
Rare man he was, who could unite, in one,
Highest and lowest occupation;
To sit with statesmen, councillour to kings,
To work, with tradesmen, in mechanick things;
Majestick man, for person, witt, and grace;
This generation cannot fill his place.
Two Corinthian columns are inscribed with dedication.
The left column commemorates Robert Mylne: Sacred to the Memorie of Robert Mylne of Balfargie, Master Mason to severall Kings of Scotland; and Survieor to this Citie, who, duringe ane active life of honest fame, Builded amonge manie extensive warks Mylne’s Court, Mylne’s Square, and the Abbie of Halie rud house, Leaving by ane Worthie Wife, Eight Sonnes and Six Daughters, All Placed in the World with Credit to himself, and consecrated this Monument, To the Honour of his Ancestrie. Died Decr. 10th, 1710; aged 77.”
The column on the right: To the Memory of Thomas Mylne Eldest son of William Mylne a Deacon of the Masons in Edinburgh Who Died 5th March1763 To the Memory of William Mylne Master Mason Eldest son of Robert Mylne of Balfargie Who Died 9th March 1728.
A cartouche at the base of the stone is inscribed: Reader, John Mylne, who maketh the fourth John,
and, by descent, from father unto son,
Sixth master mason to a royal race
Of seven successive Kings, sleeps in this place.
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.
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.
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).
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.
In Kilmuir graveyard on the Isle of Skye in Scotland there is a large gravestone lying flat on the ground, almost as if the scribe had walked away in the midst of engraving the epitaph. The inscription reads: ‘Here lie the remains of Charles MacKarter whose fame as an honest man and remarkable piper will survive this generation for his manners were easy and regular as his music and the the melody of his fingers will’
This is the burial location of Charles MacArthur, the last hereditary piper to the Clan Chief MacDonald who resided in Duntulm Castle. It is believed that the stone was commissioned by Charles’ son, Donald, and when the son drowned in the Minch while returning with a boat load of cattle from Uist, the mason stopped work in the knowledge that he was unlikely to be paid. There is no record of what the full dedication would have said. (Alternatively, if the mason was a perfectionist the realization that he had made a mistake in engraving ‘the the’ could have been reason to abandon his work.)
There is a memorial to the famous MacArthur pipers situated beside Duntulm Castle. The dedication tablet states: “This cairn is to commemorate the MACARTHURS hereditary pipers to the MACDONALDS of the Isles. During the 18th century their school of piping stood at nearby Peingown’. A Gaelic inscription translates as, The world will end but love and music endureth.
Note: Historically, a piper always marched in front of the army when going to battle to signal tactical movements to the troops. Bagpipes were commonly used throughout the centuries during Clan battles, fights against the English, and during two World Wars to lead the men ‘over the top’ of the trenches and into battle. Unarmed pipers were an easy target for the enemy and the death rate among pipers was extremely high.
The east wall, Greyfriars’ Churchyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. The name ‘Greyfriars’ comes from the color of the habit worn by the Franciscan monks who established the sacred ground in the 15th century.
The churchyard consists of four courtyards: lower, upper, southern and western. The graveyard has a wide south slope and a narrow north slope. A significant change in the ground level (the largest slope ratio is up to 10%) required a retaining wall to be built to support the soil on the upper level of the graveyard.
This post makes reference to three neighbouring monuments on the east wall from north to south; Alexander Bethune, Sir Robert Dennestoun, and Alexander Miller.
The dedication on the monument to Sir Robert Dennestoun translated from Latin reads; Behold, the world possesseth nothing permanent. Sir Robert Dennestoun lies under this tomb. He was formerly the King’s ambassador; and for thirty years, conservator of the Scottish privileges in Holland. He was also sent to, and behaved with glory, among English and Spaniards; true to his country; counsellor to his Prince; and, being full of days, having lived 78 years, he now liveth in the heavens.
HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE 19TH CENTURY
The photographs circa 1848 are from the photography studio of Hill and Adamson. David Octavius Hill was a famous painter who partnered with Robert Adamson to create Scotland’s first photographic studio where they produced calotype negatives.
The Dennestoun monument consists of a stone inscription marker flanked by Corinthian columns surmounted by a tablet containing arms terminating with a horse’s head in a broken pediment.
Note that a fence on the left side of the images is mounted atop a retaining wall.
The fence and retaining wall no longer exist. An altar base has appeared on both the Dennestoun and Miller monuments.
When the retaining wall was built were large amounts of soil dumped, raising the level and concealing the altar base of the monuments on the higher level?
When the fence and wall were removed was the soil excavated to reveal the altar bases?
That seems likely when comparing the images below; the current status shows the Dennestoun and Miller monuments (middle and right) are at the same relative level as they were in the 1840s.
The Bethune monument is not sitting at the same height relative to the other monuments.
The retaining wall and fence as seen in the image below are on the left side of the Bethune monument, in contradiction to other historical images that show the wall and fence to the left of the Dennestoun monument.
…Within this famed, haunted graveyard perhaps everything is fluid…rising, sinking, changing position?
In Kilmuir cemetery on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, is a grave referred to on the internet as the Crusader’s Grave; yet there is no evidence to suggest that the deceased was a Crusader. Affirming this statement is the medieval custom of crossing the legs on the statue of the deceased if he had fought in the Holy Land.
In fact, the carved effigy that appears to be wearing chain mail may actually be a kilt and representative of a clan chief. The grave has been identified as containing the remains of Angus Martin, or Aonghas na Geoithe (Angus of the Wind) who earned his nickname by insisting on going to sea whatever the weather.