Monday, 9 April 2012

Borthwick Graveyard

What better way to spend a morning than in a graveyard? Today it was Borthwick Graveyard in Midlothian, located next to Borthwick Castle, now a hotel. Borthwick village is minute but located in a beautiful position. Very much like it used to be in times gone by, when Pennant (a writer and traveller in 1772) remarked about it: "Seated on a knowl in the midst of a pretty vale, bounded by hills, covered by corn and woods, a most picturesque scene".

The present church is relatively recent as it was finished in 1864. However there was a church there previously which burned down in 1775. Apparently it took some time to get the money together for a new one! Many of the graves pre-date the present building.

The gate was added in 1919, and the text reads: "And in memory of those who gave their lives for their country in the Great War". How appropriate then that the wreath of poppies is still left in position since last November. Also note that beautiful thistle on top!

This is a truely peaceful graveyard, located along a dead-end road and someone has gone to a lot of trouble planting flowers here and there in tucked-away corners. It must be a very loved place and you can really imagine the dead are at peace in such a lovely spot.

This stone was my greatest find in this graveyard. I love the small heart with the huge wings at the top as well as the magnificent spirals. The text is also fascinating specially as no names are mentioned there (although they were perhaps on the other side ,see below). The text reads (and I've included the spelling as is!):

Imtombed here his corps doth ly

who aged fiftiefour did dy

his wife also & children seuen

their dust are heir. Their souls in heav'n.

There is no date to be found on this stone but I'm making an estimated guess for mid 1700s.

Here is the other side of the above mentioned stone and as you can see the actual names of the dead might well have been on a plaque (now gone) underneath the wonderful symbols of mortality shown there. There is a winged soul on top with crossbones underneath, as well as an open book next to which is an hourglass perched on what was no doubt meant to be a skull although it looks more like an elderly gent with a moustache. The book has the words Verbum Dominis manet in Aeternum engraved upon its surface which translated from the Latin means: the word of the Lord remains forever (or eternally).

I am indebted to Islay Donaldson's book Midlothian Gravestones for mentioning what this stone means. It must have deteriorated badly since she wrote her book (1994) in which she drew a sketch of this stone and was still able to discern other tools of a wright such as a hammer. I could only vaguely see the set square but even that is fast disappearing. She has no date but I'm figuring it for early to middle 18th Century.

There are some very old gravestones in Borthwick but also many Victorian grave monuments such as that erected by James Brown of Currie in 1872 which attracted the attentian of John mainly because of that splendid vessel at the top. The motto reads: caute et sedulo, which means: cautiously and carefully. A bit of a boring way to live in my opinion but each to his or her own!


Linda said...

Love your story telling and photos Frieda. And the thistle-isn't that the flower of/symbol of Scotland?

Linda said...

Beautiful place. The layers of history is interesting and how they blend. Gates, church and grave markers from different time periods. Well written.


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