Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Old Cockpen Graveyard

Today I finally managed to locate Old Cockpen Graveyard after 3 previous, failed attempts. I had to bring John along so that he could drive while I used the Ordnance Survey coordinates in combination with a map to guide us along. Even then we almost missed it. But I'm so pleased we persevered. It proved to be a very atmospheric place with a now almost completely ruined church which was first used in 1242. It was probably build on a site used previously for human settlement so it is truely ancient and who knows what human history is contained here. The church was in use till the early 19th Century. It contains (and this shows signs of recent building work) the Earl of Dalhousie's burial aisle, which is now bricked off and inaccessible. As Dalhousie Castle (now a hotel) is nearby, this is easily explained.

Above the remains of what must have been a lovely round window in the East wall (perhaps a rose window?) and in it's day this must have been a lovely church building. Even in it's ruined state it has great beauty.

The above gravestone (also my blip for today) dates to 1699 (and by the way this information comes from Isla Donaldson's book Midlothian Gravestones, published in 1994 and still available from Midlothian Library Service), and has a very worn winged soul at the top, surrounded by fronds and very thick scroll work. It has the initials WC and MB which no doubt refer to the husband and spouse buried there. As you can see dead leaves, lichen and moss are fast gaining the upper hand over this gravestone.

This is another neigbouring stone (dating back to 1790) with a lovely winged soul at the top spreading out its extravagant wings. The stone is further decorated with twisted swags and acanthus leaves all the way down each side.

Here is a skull that I only discovered by looking down. It's on the bottom end of a now fallen stone which is gradually being swallowed up by moss and leaves. Next to it you can just discern an hourglass.

I'll definitely be returning to this graveyard, as I have left out a very interesting tablestone grave which I shall regale you with at some time in the future. The light was not that great for photography so I decided to save that. I did want to share the above stone though. The set squares clearly indicate it belongs to a wright, named Robert Rough although there is no date to be seen on this stone anymore.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your interest in these old gravestones. It used to feel morbid until I took a walking tour of Sheffield's oldest cemetery, with a "Friends of Sheffield Cemetery" tour guide. It was fascinating!! So much social and political history can be extrapolated from these old gravestones, especially when full names and dates are still visible. These dilapidated ones may not be as 'useful' for research, but they have a unique beauty. Great photography, Frieda!

arts4all said...

You and John make a great team for exploring! Your photos and text are most interesting and I will always be in awe of the age and continuous use of so much in the UK. I looked at the web site you linked to, looked at the Bing map, etc. Wish I was there ;-0

Archie Young said...

The Church was once owned by the Cistercian Monks at Newbattle Abbey and a good chance it was called St.Mary's.
I had heard that the large car or coach park as you walk up to the Church is a mass graveyard, but in saying that it is a beautiful ruin.
I am a Scottish Knight Templar and have been researching the some of the sites you have visited, my main interest is Temple.

I love your site, well done.



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