Newington Cemetery

Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh, Scotland

In 1846 this site was known as Echo Bank Cemetery, and later became known as the Newington Necropolis. The original Gothic lodge is still in evidence and is used as a gatekeeper’s cottage.

This cemetery is neglected and vandalized.  Tombstones are toppled over and broken.  It is overrun with ivy, and in some instances it is impossible to see the headstones.  The gravestones located at the perimeter wall are impossible to reach because the ground is covered in vegetation.  It is objectionable that this hallowed ground has been neglected and allowed to deteriorate, and yet it is a very peaceful island in the midst of the city where the sun shines through the foliage of the ancient trees and lends a sadness and eeriness to the scene.

It is one of the most haunting sites I’ve visited. Large and spacious it covers a large area in the city. It is both open and wooded. The overgrown foliage entangles the tombstones, obliterates the names whilst the shade from the trees plunges the area into gloom. At every turn the rustling leaves seem ominous, and I checked over my shoulder more than once. I was transported to a book I once read “A Fine and Lonely Place,” which told the story of an old man who frequented a cemetery. Perhaps that is what triggered my fascination with cemeteries and gravestone and the history of inscriptions.

There is a wrought iron fenced area against the front wall containing gravestones with images of the Star of David and Hebrew writing. The Jewish section was created in 1945, and it seems to me vindictive and intolerant that even in death the Jews are segregated from the others.


If there is another world he lived in bliss
If there be none he made the most of this. 1938

In mansions of glory and endless delight
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright
And sing with a glittering crown on my brow
If ever I love thee my Jesus ‘tis now.

This stone recalls sad thoughts of one who in the summer’s shady bloom straight from the arms of love went down to the gloomy portals of the tomb. 1869

A Report Filed for Edinburgh Evening News, 06 February 1991:
On Monday I went for a walk in a graveyard. Preoccupied with sombre thoughts in these sombre times, I stood before a huge memorial stone “to the honoured memory of one hundred and thirty nine British sailors and soldiers who gave their lives for their country during the Great War 1914-1918”.

In large letters across the top of the memorial was written: “Their name liveth for evermore”. Behind it was a large ragged heap of stones and an unkempt tangle of undergrowth. The place was dirty, depressing and very cold.

These days, there should be no need to remind ourselves of the need to respect the dead. It behoves us all to honour those who have passed away, whether they died by accident, of old age, in the First World War, or in a futile fight for oil.

It follows that any civilised society should take great care of its graves. In Newington cemetery near Cameron Toll, where I was, the graves have been allowed to go to rack and ruin.

Headstones had collapsed, crosses were broken and graffiti disfigured tombs. Broken glass, rusty tin cans and plastic bags were littered all over the place. In some places the undergrowth was so thick that it was difficult to see or get to the burial grounds.

In the summer the graveyard is swamped with weeds and bushes. It is infested with hundreds of giant hogweeds which in sunlight cause serious burns to the skin. It is, as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Edinburgh South, Struan Stevenson, told me, “an utter disgrace”.

He said he had received complaints from local people that “they need a machete to hack their way to their loved ones’ graves”. He thought it was outrageous that a cemetery regularly visited by hundreds of people should have been allowed to deteriorate from a place of rest into a jungle.

A few years ago, a teenage boy was killed by a falling tombstone. Perhaps that is why at the entrance to Newington cemetery there is an ugly sign. “Warning”, it says. “This cemetery is private property. The owners cannot accept responsibility for accidents to unauthorised persons.”

*UPDATE* September 2015

After two years of hard work by volunteers the cemetery has been restored to its former glory. Dozens of volunteers met each month armed with secateurs, sheers and rakes to tame the undergrowth and uncover concealed graves. During the process an empty catacomb in the centre of the graveyard was discovered.

The Friends of Newington Cemetery have produced a map of the 14-acre graveyard identifying the graves of famous people and a Commonwealth War Graves memorial.

Roslin, Rosslyn

Roslin Cemetery
With the sun shining on it, this has to be one of the prettiest cemeteries I have ever visited. The graveyard is located on a sloping hill to the side of Rosslyn chapel in Midlothian, Scotland. The upper area is terraced beyond which the sloping land gives way to a field. There are numerous statues to lend an air of history to the place. The sound of bees buzzing with little interruption from modern day traffic spirits you away to another time.

Roslin Cemetery
Roslin Cemetery

Upon a life I did not live
Upon a death I did not die
Another’s life
Another’s death is take my whole eternity

He being dead yet speaketh

I am poor and needy yet the Lord thinketh upon me

Lord I have loved the habitation of thy house

O for the touch of a vanished hand
And the sound of a voice that is still

Roslin stone
The souls of the just are in the hand of God
And the torment of death shall not touch them
In the sight of the unwise they seem to die
But they are in peace.

Rosslyn Chapel

The 15th century Rosslyn Chapel is a beautiful example of architecture and masonry set in a picturesque area overlooking a gorge. The chapel became world famous with the issue of Dan Brown’s novel, the Da Vinci Code. Hundreds of intricate carvings have eroded throughout the centuries, of which are numerous examples of the faces of ‘Green Men’ believed to be a symbol of rebirth or fertility. However, it is most famous for the Apprentice Pillar an intricately carved stone column for which the apprentice was killed by the envious Master Mason.

The Chapel is also a burial place for several generations of the Sinclair family. In the south west corner of the chapel grounds is a Victorian memorial to the 4th Earl of Rosslyn.


The structure is a four sided red sandstone pillar surmounted on a rectangular plinth containing a sunken bed of gravel. The plinth is inscribed on all sides with the following:
Not stone or brass
These perish with the flight of time and quickly pass
But love endures in every clime
Eternal as the poet’s rhyme.
Not brass or stone
These will corrode and some day die
But love alone laughs at decay
And soars on high to fragrant immortality.

On two sides engraved arches contain memorials. The epitaphs for Francis Robert St. Clair and his wife Blanche are detailed on the east side.


  • In memory of the / Right Honourable / Francis Robert / St. Clair Erskine / Earl of Rosslyn / Born March 2nd / 1833 / Died Sept 6th / 1890
  • In memory of / Blanche / Countess of Rosslyn / Widow of 4th Earl of Rosslyn / Born Aug 22nd / 1839 / Died Dec 8th / 1933.

The crest displayed atop the headstones is the Earl of Rosslyn’s heraldic arms.

rosslyn crest

Within the peak of this arch an angel holds a banner with a Latin quote from the Roman poet, Virgil: Omnia vincit Amor, et nos cedamus amori translated as Love conquers all, and let us surrender to love.


Francis Robert was the author of sonnets and poems. Lines from his sonnet, the Gates of Death, are inscribed on the west arch:
Safe, safe at last from doubt, from storm, from strife
Moored in depths of Christ’s unfathomed grave
With spirits of just with dear ones lost
And found again this strange ineffable life
Is Life Eternal.  Death has here no place
And they are welcomed best who suffered most.


rosslyn_sacred scotland

The structure is highly decorated with statues, spires, and angels holding banners with the words, Love, Courage, Hope, Patience, Faith and Truth. The memorial is surmounted with a cross terminal.



Family Plots

One of the most painful losses we endure is the loss of a parent. It brings our own mortality to light.

A wife most true, a mother kind
A friend of sympathizing heart
Forgiving spirit, trusting mind
Who wisely chose the better part.

Mother thou art gone to rest
We will not weep for thee
For thou art now where oft on earth
Thy spirit longed to be.

Evergreen Cemetery, Milton, ON, Canada
Evergreen Cemetery, Milton, ON, Canada

Her children rise up and call her blessed.

In death’s cold arms lies sleeping
A tender parent, a companion dear
In love she lived, in peace she died,
Her life was asked but was denied. 1878

Our mother has gone from us forever
There is none on earth to us so dear
May it show to us, dear Redeemer
That our home is not down here.

Tis nature’s part, a mother to deplore
Whose early care, demands that just return
Religion only, can our peace restore
And bring relief to those who cause to mourn.

Farewell dear father, sweet thy rest
Weary with years and worn with pain
Farewell till in some happy place
We shall behold thy face again.

Evergreen Cemetery, Milton, ON, Canada
Evergreen Cemetery, Milton, ON, Canada

Hark the sad sound that spirit bright has fled
That once loved form lies numbered with the dead
He was a tender husband, father dear
Come all who knew him drop a social tear. – 1841

The call has come to young and old
To part with friends below
They now our fathers face behold
Nor suffer pain nor woe. – 1918

Husband thou art gone to rest
Thou has found thine earthly tomb
For God has summoned thee away
Thy Father called thee home.

A faithful friend, a husband dear
A kinder parent lieth here
Great is the loss we will sustain
But hope in Heaven to meet again.

Weep not for me my children dear
I am not dead but sleeping here
And when my grave you come to see
Prepare the way to follow me.

And parted thus they rest that played against the same green tree
Whose voices mingled as they prayed around one parent knee. 1883

Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA, USA
Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA, USA

One less at home.
The charmed circle broken.
A dear face missed day by day from its usual place.
But cleansed, saved, perfected by Grace.
One more in Heaven.

A place is vacant in our home that can never be filled.


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.

Edinburgh Castle Dog Cemetery

There is a small pet cemetery within the walls of the castle, one of only two in Scotland for the faithful companions of the castle’s commanding officers. The small garden out of reach of visitors can only be seen from above, and has been used since Queen Victoria’s reign as a burial place for Regimental mascots and officer’s dogs.

There are approximately two dozen stones visible. Many of the stones are so weathered that the inscriptions are no longer legible.
Edinburgh_Edinburgh Castle_pet

DON pet dog of Sergeant’s 1st battery
MAJOR a police dog
FLORA band pet

Edinburgh_Edinburgh Castle_pet Winkle

1881 JESS Band pet of the Black Watch 42nd Royal Highlanders
1889 YUM YUM
1892 TIM is buried in Guernsey. He travelled with Seaforth Highlanders
1893 DOBBLER travelled with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to such exotic locations as China, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
1911 GYP a Crown ROOM dog.
1935 TINKER General William.
1947 SCAMP A faithful chum of Jack Wilson Paterson.
1980 WINKLE Dear and faithful friend of Lady Gow and the Governor.

Edinburgh_Edinburgh Castle_pet Scamp

Edinburgh Dog Cemetery
Dumb creatures we have cherished here below
Shall give us joyous greeting
When we pass the Golden Gate
Is it folly that I hope it may be so.

A verse written by Robert Burns:
Berkin dugs here lie at rest
The yappin worst, obedient best
Sodgers pets and mascots tae
Still the guard the castle to this day.