Sunday, 11 March 2012

Carnwath Graveyard and St. Mary's Aisle

We went for a drive in the direction of Lanarkshire and ended up in the graveyard of Carnwath Parish Church, as we do a lot. End up in graveyards, I mean, and as we will all do in the end, in fact! This church dates from the 19th Century but next to it (with only a minuscule space in between) is another church like building as seen above and directly below.

St Mary's Aisle was once the north transept of St Mary's Church. This was founded in 1386, and was expanded into a collegiate church in 1425 by Thomas, First Lord Somerville. Here the ecclesiastical college, would spend time each day praying for the souls of the Somerville family. Collegiate churches were effectively vehicles designed to ensure the salvation of their benefactors. Sadly for the Somerville family this habit has now long been discontinued. Their souls will have to fend for themselves! St. Mary's Aisle is recognised as a Category A Listed Building on the Secretary of State for Scotland's Statutory list. It is the mausoleum of the Lockhart family, and previously of the Earls of Carnwath and the Lords Somerville.

It has a most amazing roof structure, and I've never seen anything like it before.

Here is another view of St. Mary's Aisle, this time as seen from the graveyard itself. As you can see literally everything in view is covered in layers of lichen and moss, adding to the beauty of the scene but making it difficult to see the details of the carving and read the text on the stones.

I have tried to discover (online) who and what this might be. This massive slab portraying a male human figure is standing against the sidewall of the graveyard although I strongly suspect he might once have been recumbent (or laying down in layman's terms). I'm also willing to bet he dates back to the times that St. Mary's Aisle was still part of the original Carnwath Parish Church back in the 15th or 16th Century. He might in fact be even older than that.

Added on 8th April 2012: I received the following information via e-mail from Sandy Gardiner: Dear Frieda, concerning the old statue on the back wall of the old graveyard in carnwath, you might be better getting local people for the truth but i remember my grandfather many years ago showing this to me and explaining that the story goes that it was of a man who had been shot in the stomach with a cannon ball at couthally castle and had placed a plate over his intestines to keep them in and had walked from couthally castle to the doctors in the village of carnwath a distance well over a mile and dropped dead on the doctors door step. Only a story? but one passed down the generations

Thanks so much, Sandy, as a died in the wool romantic I really love this story!

It was a very close call today about which of the many pictures I took would become my blip for today and in the end I had to call upon John to make the decision. He choose the picture of St. Mary's Aisle, shown at the top. This was the other one I wanted to select as it must be one of the most fun (if that's indeed the right word) gravestones I've come across to date. It dates back to 1732. Just what is that funny face in the middle meant to be? It looks like it's a part of the winged soul and might be meant to portray her heart but why oh why does it seem to be grinning out at us.

A beautiful and very angelic looking winged soul combined with a winged hour-glass on a stone with a gorgeous shaped carved top, probably with a central skull although that is now very much obscured by lichen and the like. But the spiral shapes are still spectacular. This was a mason who was at the top of his game, the carving is really exquisite.

Who could resist this lovely winged soul? Very different in style than the one shown above but no less beautiful for all that. Sadly she is disappearing fast down into the ground, but at least I've preserved her here for posterity. The circle shapes are intriquing too.

This fascinating stone was partly hidden in amidst a yew tree, but as John was with me, he was able to temporarily remove most of the greenery to provide a better view. I'm not quite sure what it all means apart of course from the skull and crossbones, symbols of mortality. And could that be the scales of justice, there at the bottom? But the middle bit has me foxed! Any suggestions will be very welcome.


Lenna Young Andrews said...

I would say you found some amazing things today Frieda. None of the graveyards around me in Florida are anything like this because the late 1890's is the very earliest I've ever seen. Keep up your discovering! Is john beginning to enjoy these ventures I wonder, like a treasure hunt?? : 0 )

Maggi said...

What a beautiful place! I'm stumped on that last stone too but it looks like justice was served!


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