Sunday, 12 June 2011

Temple Village

We visited the open gardens in Temple Village today and they were lovely. But the true highlight came when we strolled into the ruins of Temple's Old Parish Church, and its churchyard. I do have an abiding and probably morbid interest in gravestones and can never resist a visit whenever I see one but Temple was in a league of its own as far as skull and crossbone images were concerned. The Church dates from the early 14th Century and the name Temple dates from the time when the Knights Templars established their chief house in Scotland there

The Order of the Temple was founded to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land against attack by the Saracens. For this they were rewarded with gifts of land in England and Scotland. The Order was suppressed in 1312 and their property handed over to the Knights of St. John (also known as the Knights Hospitallers). According to a local garden owner Knights still come to the ruins to hold services at certain times of the year, dressed in their white regalia. Sadly they shy away from publicity so it would be hard to capture this on camera.

But I have promised myself a return late at night at some time this summer to capture an even more atmospheric picture of the ruined church and gravestones. And perhaps the odd ghost or two.

Why the skull and crossbones on so many of the stones. Someone we met in the graveyard thought I might have to do with people dying of the plague but I shall have to do some more digging (not literally, I hasten to add) to get to the bottom of this.

Memento Mori (Remember the dead, although it is sometimes also translated as Remember you're going to die) is frequently seen on gravestones for obvious reasons. That's in fact why gravestones came into existence. They are first of all a means to remember the person who lies buried there but they also serve to remind the living that they too will eventually end up 6 ft under. And that being the case the idea is to live a good life before the worst comes to pass, so that come the resurrection you'll be in with a chance!

Although I'm completely non-religious I do find this morbid obsession with the afterlife very interesting. The fact that one life is apparently not enough for people seems a denial of the beauty of that one life. Heaven as far as all world religions are concerned is not for us, mere mortals, but will come as a reward after this life is over. I think this is one way of subduing the masses and keeping them sweet. To me this current existence is good enough already. I need no more, thanks all the same!!

Nor am I looking for anyone to remember me. Just remembering my art will do.

So the graveyard is steeped in history and full of reminders of the transience of life and of the fact that time flies, as you can see on all the pictures above. But I was seduced when I saw the above almost hidden in the long grass. I have no idea who lies buried there as any writing has long since disappeared to nothing. But someone had left a wreath there. The greenery has withered but the flowers are still shining bright, because................they're plastic!!

Sadly not everything is transient!

But remember: Hora Fugit as it says at the top; The Hours Fly Past! Make the most of them.


Helen Cowans said...

wonderful graveyard. I think the skull and bones are simply a sign of death in general. If you are ever in Rothbury the graveyard is worth a look.

Terri said...

Fascinating! I love the old churches in the UK. I have never seen skull and crossbones like the ones on these gravestones. The pictures are really good! I would enjoy visiting this place too.

Jules Cochrane Walsh said...

The scull and crossed thigh bones denote the burial of a Templar knight. Their bones were brought back home and buried in this fashion with the head above the leg bones.


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