Saturday, 14 January 2012

Culter Graveyard

It was time for an Artist Date this week and despite a cold I took the car and went for a drive, just aimlessly driving and at every turning taking the direction that instinct dictated (mine, not the car's!). Along the A701 on my way down South and my thoughts told me that I wanted to find Kilbucho Graveyard. I found the one-track road along which I know it must be but there was absolutely no visual sign of it to be seen and a visit to that particular graveyard will have to wait till I get the Ordnance Survey co-ordinates and take John with me. I have the feeling it will entail expeditions through fields to get there.

But my instincts weren't wrong in leading me down that particular lane as towards the other end I did hit a graveyard. This is Culter (also spelled Coulter) graveyard in Lanarkshire and it proved very rewarding. There is a modern graveyard to the side of the old one and the church is still in service (9.30 every Sunday). But of course it were the old stones that captivated me.

I know it was probably not the most sensible thing to do for someone who's still suffering from a cold but I kneeled down on the wet and icy ground in order to photograph this stone. It's leaning over at an angle and I wanted to make sure I got it in all its magnificence and splendour. It became my blip for today, of course. What a stone. This can only be the Winged Soul, but what can be seen behind it? Flames were my first thought but a crown of thorns is also a possibility. And the wings seem to continue under the chin in the form of leaf-life shapes. And there are also flower/leaf decorations to either side, probably continueing all the way down the side of the stone, but sadly part of it is now underground. Is this winged soul burning in hell? Sadly we will probably never know. It's interesting to think that we may be way more educated than people in the past, but they would have known immediately what this stone signifies, despite being mostly both illiterate and uneducated. But they were very well versed in christian symbolism.

Here is a close-up detail of the face. The carving is exquisite and every detail can still be seen despite the fact that I think this gravestone must date back to the early part of the 18th Century. Sadly the text on the other side of the stone was far less deeply engraved and can now no longer be read.

As you can see Cutler graveyard is set yet again (as most every graveyard I've been to) beautifully into the surrounding landscape and the graveyard itself is full of ancient stones leaning this way and that. A very stereotypical old graveyard, just as I like them best. By the way, it's truely amazing just how often of late graveyards have been popping up on the television as well as in books I'm reading. A great example of synchronicity, althought it's also true to say that I'm simply noticing them more and more as my interest in them has grown. One of these days I have promised myself a nocturnal visit to one of them (probably accompanied by John, just in case! And it's not the dead I'm afraid of, but the living).

There was more fascinating imagery. I found this little person, just before her stone sinks into the ground, never to be seen again. As this is all I have there is no saying what she (I really think it can only be a she!) represents. It seems a very worldly image for a gravestone but sowers and reapers (which can frequently be found on gravestones) as well as angels are mostly representated naked although not often so very distinctively female.

Finally another amazing skull I found on the side of a tablestone. It looks both ancient and unnervingly modern. I really wish I could find out more about this beautiful graveyard and the grave monuments contained therein, but so far my internet searches haven't revealed a lot and my books about Scottish graveyards have proved to be equally uninformative. But I do have more pictures to share which will come in the shape of another post in the next few days.

1 comment:

Maggi said...

The things we go through to get the shot, right? LOL It looks like ti was worth it though because these pics are awesome. I can always count on your blog to see things I'll probably never see for myself in real life. :D I hope you're feeling better!

P.S.-I've joined the newest Sketchbook Project. Just couldn't resist any longer. lol


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