Friday, 23 March 2012

Newbattle Graveyard

Newbattle graveyard has long been on my list of graveyards I wanted to see (it's near Dalkeith) and today we went there for the first (but definitely not last) time. I was rewarded with the most astounding collection of grave monuments and the above one (my blip for today) was only one of many beautiful examples. It has a Vive Memor Lethe ribbon (as previous encountered and written about in Penicuik Graveyard here) and a truely regal skull. It dates back to 1728 but the text is fast disappearing under ground.It has impressive S-scrolls too as well as a gigantic bone. On the reverse side of this gravestone are the tools of the trade of joiner.


One of the first things to strike the eye when entering Newbattle is this collection of impressive monuments dating from various times in the past. No details now as Newbattle is very large and I'll concentrate in this post on just some of the treasures to be found here and will return with more visits and posts in the future.

As you can see Newbattle is one of the largest graveyards I have visited thus far. Today maintenance was going on there in the shape of 3 very large lawnmowers. And although it's great to see these ancient burial grounds are still well looked after, it did disturb the peace and quiet I always hope to find in these places. So I will return and I have the feeling it won't be long either. This graveyard is surrounded on all sides by high walls, into which many of the monuments are set. This has preserved them better than the stones set into the ground, many of which are now disappearing slowly.

I'm only concentrating on a few more gravestones that caught my attention. There are some more absolutely amazing grave monuments in this graveyard but I'm saving them for a future visit as they are worth an entire blip post in their own right. The above skull though was a marvelous specimen that I just had to photograph. It belongs to a very large grave monument set into the wall of the graveyard to which I will return. For now I'll just tell you that it dates to 1682 and is dedicated to James Chirnsyde who died at age 12. There is a lot of text that I will try to decipher during a future visit.


Some of the things I find really fascinating on stones are the indications of the trade of the person(s) buried. This one immediately grabbed my attention as rather than having to look it up in my various books, I knew that the items shown on this stone were shuttles and thus the trade was weaving. The weaver's name was John Duncan. This gravestone, set into the wall, is the earliest one I have come across. It dates back to 1607 (!!) and also shown on the stone in great detail underneath the initials of the dead are the two stretchers with teeth, which held the web taut as it was finished under the weaver's hands. I wouldn't have discovered this without the valued assistance of the Midlothian Gravestones book.


This is another magnificent example of a gravestone adorned with the tools of the trade of the dead. In this case it is a blacksmith (Robert Wilson) which is signified by the hammer topped with a crown. Only blacksmiths and cordiners (shoemakers) were allowed to use the crown in this way. I love the two faces at the top. There are also wonderful hour-glasses on view and skulls sit atop the pillars which hold up the drapery and text. On each column sits a tiny heart-shaped leaf. Now very hard to read anymore but according to Islay Donaldson's book Midlothian Gravestones this stone dates back to 1741. Other sources say 1742.

4 comments:

Lenna Young Andrews said...

it is amazing to me the amount of interesting and very old graveyards and stones you continue to find, frieda!! I am glad there is so much out there to fuel your passion! xoxox

Jewels said...

Wow how fascinating Frieda - I would spend hours looking around. We don't get anything like this here over the pond (at least not as much). I think the icons that show a persons trade is really interesting. I'm sitting in my living room with my husband sharing with him your finds...we are both history buffs. J

Linda said...

What a great find, loads of inspiration and beautiful art to see in your future posts. Looking forward to seeing the photos and reading the stories.

Maggi said...

Wow, another amazing graveyard, these have been so cool to see through your eyes!

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