Greyfriars Burial Ground, Perth
The joy of all things living and a graveyard? An odd combination to say the least but on closer look this is exactly what Greyfriars burial ground in Perth is about and has been through the centuries to this day.
The spirit of Francis of Assisi
In 1460 a Franciscan monastery was founded on this spot. The monks of the Franciscan order wore grey habits, hence the name of the burial ground – Greyfriars. The friars led an austere life but always cherished their joy in God’s creation, wildlife, plants, and birds. The natural world played a major part in their belief which was predominantly Catholic.
Nearly 600 years later this spot is still very much about the natural world and the enjoyment of it, even though it is a graveyard. Today the enjoyment is less spiritual and more environmental but equally important. Biodiversity is the key word. The former monastery has become a sanctuary for birds, bats, and wildflowers, in the true spirit of Francis of Assisi. A safe haven for nature right in the middle of Perth City Centre.
The friary was dissolved in 1559 and a few years later converted into a burial ground since the existing graveyard in Perth had no more space, a phenomenon not only happening in Perth but also in Dundee and Edinburgh.
In modern times of course the space was not enough for all the burials in a city the size of Perth. But even after the vast Wellshill cemetery was put in use, burials still happened at Greyfriars until 1978. The earliest stone dates back to 1580, nearly 400 years of graveyard history.
The trades play a prominent part on the older gravestones, the intricate carvings on the local sandstone are now protected under a roof at the far end of the burial ground.
The merchant and candle maker John young died in 1745, the 4-M is a merchant sign, and a bunch of candles states his trade where headstones of this period often display the winged soul.
Very suitable for Daniel Cameron who was a gardener in the late 18th century and very suitable for Greyfriars burial ground where nature and the joy in all things living plays as important a role today as it did centuries ago.