Saturday, 25 June 2011

West Linton Graveyard

It was an action packed day if you can described a morning spend in a graveyard and an afternoon at the botanical gardens in Edinburgh as such. We did also manage to catch the fly-by by the Red Arrows while on the road from the graveyard to the garden, in honour of the Armed Services day hosted in Edinburgh.

It seemed weird to me that I have visited graveyards all over the place but had never so far ventured into my local one in West Linton. My mistake as it proved a very interesting exercise and I found a great deal of very old gravestones covered in symbolism. There was a much older church in the middle of the graveyard in the olden days which was replaced in the 18th Century by the present one as there were images carved in the old one to which the Kirk apparently took exception.

They apparently didn't find fault with the many images to be found on the gravestones. Since last I wrote here about a graveyard visit (only a week or so ago!) I have acquired 3 books on the subject, one dedicated to Scottish ones alone, so it's safe to say this is my latest craze. I have the feeling it will be a lasting one. In an odd sort of way it correlates to my obsession with 17th Century Dutch flower paintings as both are full of images representing the transience of life, the shortness of it and pointing out you have to make the most of life as soon it will be all over. The flower paintings are a lot more subtle although that is only true for us. They were just as easy to read for 17th century people as the skulls, hourglasses, crossed bones etc. are to us. At the top you can see a stone covered in symbolism (also my blip for today)

I was particularly moved by the gravestone above which seems to represent two persons with at their feet a tiny coffin. As you can see it's old and crumbling but I must do some more investigation to see if more information is available if only to find out who was buried there. It was hard to take a good picture of the tomb as there was no way of getting up high enough to take the picture from above. And even if there had been I strongly doubt I would have the courage to go to those sort of lengths in a graveyard! The side of the tomb showed the image below, with the little winged angel holding an hourglass.

One of the things I learned from the books is that the winged angel I had noticed in Temple among others, represents the eternal soul flying off to heaven. I referred to hourglass as egg-timer in previous posts, which was really the wrong word but the only one that came to mind at the time (English is after all my second language). Strangely enough I did remember the Dutch word which is zandloper which in English translates as sand runner. A clear description of what it actually shows and looks like. Sometimes having access to multiple languages is so helpful in finding le mot juste!

Quite a few of the graves are in very bad condition and that makes them look even more poignant, specially with the Memento Mori text and skull as seen above.

And this amazing stone features the inhabitant in his Sunday best outfit, complete with cape.

As for this little face, I'm far from sure that it represents anything at all. It was squeezed onto a very old stone in between a skull and the crossbones. What could it be, a bit of fun?

And talking of fun, that was what we were doing at the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. I signed up for a course starting in October called Living the Artist's Way, based on the book by Julia Cameron. If you're near Edinburgh and want to discover your creative self, come and join us! I for one can't wait.


fabriquefantastique said...

I often visit graveyards...they are a personal link to history. Do you think thetouching one with the tiny coffin was a couple buried alongside theur child?

Terri said...

Frieda, I love your posts on graveyards! I have been fascinated with them since I was a teen. This one has some really old stones, and the carvings are so interesting. We do not have many graveyards here in the US with stones that old. I will see if I can did up (Ha!) some photos of older gravestones from here and send you some to see. I don't think they had the stone carvers here that they did in the UK at the time. So they are much more simple.
Glad to see you are out and about having fun! Your Artist Way course sounds fabulous.

Lenna Young Andrews said...

oh, i wish i could join you for those classes at the garden, Frieda. They sound wonderful. And what an interesting time you are having researching the gravestones. They really tie in to your philosophy of 'make the most of life for it will soon be over'. I can see why this is becoming your "latest craze". Personally, I think you simply like to throw yourself into something and really understand it. What a day! (This & the botanical gardens). That is even more than me going to the bookstore and the Tiki hut at Lucas Boatworks yesterday!!!!!
We do not have any gravestones as old as what you are finding. i will be lucky if I see any from the early 19oo's or late 18oo's behind our house. keep us apprised! xo lenna


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