Friday, 1 July 2011

Stobo Graveyard

Another day, another graveyard. John has also got the bit between his teeth now (I just can't help myself with the puns, this is very like some skull images!) and is becoming just as interested as I am in graveyards and has agreed to accompany me on my visits to the dead. Today it was Stobo and he was most impressed, not with the church or the gravestones but with this delightful little building at the very top of the graveyard. He nominated it a shed but in my (I'll grant you romantic) notion it could also be a guardhouse, built for a watchman who kept an eye out in the 18th Century for so-called Resurrectionists, people who dug up newly buried corpses and sold them to medical students. Eventually this even let to murder (think Burke and Hare). They didn't bother to wait for dead corpses but murdered their lodgers instead. However this little building looks to be too recent for that.

The above gravestone really caught our eye. It portrays John Noble who died in 1723 and is pictured on his grave with his musket, no doubt a treasured possession during his lifetime. Apparently he was a military man, which might also explain his rather strange headgear.
To me it looked remarkably like a crown.

Another gravestone, adorned with many signs of immortality including at the bottom a bound ribbon which holds the symbols together is that of 3 sisters and is a wonderful example of the mason's art.

And I also managed to spot this skull with a bone right through it instead of the usual crossbones below it. I haven't found this elsewhere nor can I discover it mentioned in the book that so far has proved to be the best guide to Scottish graveyards i.e. A Scottish Graveyard Miscellany, by Hamish Brown. He encourages his readers at the end of the book to write to your MP or MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) to complain about the fact that so many of our splendid Scottish graveyards are falling into ever more disrepair and we are in danger of losing a wonderful heritage as well as gorgeous examples of folk art. I could not agree more with him!

Finally I simply have to tell you of another glorious example of serendipity, or extreme coincidence if that's what you want to believe. I have my blog printed into a book about every 6 months or so (see button in the sidebar) and was rather taken aback when someone phoned me to say my book had been included with his book and shipped to his address. He was kind enough to mail it on to me and the only thing he asked in return was for me to make a donation to a charity to cover the postage. He quite restored my faith in human beings which does get dented from time to time. I duely popped into the Red Cross shop in West Linton and surprised the staff with both the donation and the story. So what is the serendipity in that, you might ask? Well, the person in question is an undertaker!! He blogs as The Musical Undertaker. Just what are the odds on this? They must be astronomical.

1 comment:

Lenna Young Andrews said...

Frieda, the gravestones you and john are finding are the most interesting ones I have ever seen! I am happy to hear John is taking and interest and you are doing this together, it sounds like a good summer project and most historical AND serendipitous!
I am with John, I love that little building/shed/gatehouse you found at Stobo. But I am finding myself falling more and more for your interest in old gravestones.
xo lenna
p.s. i wrote a comment to your comment on my July 1 post!!


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