Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tweedmuir Graveyard

Time for my Artist's Date this week! The snow has melted and the Scottish Borders are mainly brown and grey striped with green rather than gloriously white. I went to the most southerly graveyard in Peeblesshire and was lucky enough to be able to ask for directions from a Mobile Library van as I very much doubt I would have found it without that assistance. Tweedsmuir Graveyard is tucked away at the end of a dead-end road. It's right by the river Tweed which is probably why the church is high up on a hill so as to avoid flooding.

Most of the oldest stones are near the church and the graves then are positioned on the slope down to the river with the modern ones at the very bottom. The graveyard is still in use as is the church. I've never come across a graveyard so overcome with moss and lichen. Most stones are completely unreadable due to the growth covering them.

But by crouching on the ground and having a close-up look I did find some treasure such as the side of the above table grave adorned with a very strange skull, crossbones and hourglass.

A very strange winged soul which seems to be smirking out at the world with underneath an impressive set of wings

and a much more cheerful one, smiling out. She's probably very pleased with her hairdo! A real one off.

The biggest claim to fame for this graveyard is this grave of a Covenanter. If you want to know about the Covenanters have a read here. It's one of the many religious conflicts in Scottish history (and one of the bloodiest!) and was also part of the wars between England and Scotland, Another case of many lives lost in the name of religion and a very far from uplifting tale.

The inscription reads: J H 1660-1685. Here lyes IOHN Hunter martyr who was cruely murdered at Core Head by Col. Iames Douglas & his party for his adherance to the word of God & Scotlands covenanted work of reformation 1685, erected in the year 1726. Later on the following was added in 1910,on the other side of the stone facing us above which says: John Hunter , a Tweedsmuir lad, was accidentaly visiting a sick friend at Corehead when timely in the morning he was surprised with Douglas and his Dragoons. He fled to the hill a great way, but one named Scott, being well horsed, compassed him and came before him. he was most barbarouslie shot through the body, felled on the head with the neck of a gun, and casten headlong over a high steep craig.

On the other side of the originally gravestone you can see the above inscription. It is very hard to read due not only to the lichen but also to the use of strange (Scottish?) spelling and words. It's reputed to be by the mason Robert Paterson of "Old Mortality" fame.

Here's what I make of it :

When Zion's King was robbed

of his right, his witnesses in Scotland

joined to flight

when Papist Prelates

and indulgency

combin'd gainst Christ

to ruin presbytery

all who would not unto

the Prelate bow,

They sought them out &

whom they found they slew

for owning of Christ's cause

I here do lie

My blood for vengeance

on his enemies doth cry

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