coffin carrying rite
Kildrummy is more than more than a final resting place for the dead. It was also very much a resting place for the living, especially the men carrying the coffins, even more so, if the person in the coffin belonged to the Forbes family.
They had their own special burial rite.
Kildrummy church is not old, early 19th century. The churchyard is though, as are the remains of a much older site of worship.
St Bride’s church
The north wall, standing up to 3m high, and the porch (Elphinstone aisle) dating from 1605 are all that remain of the former St Bride’s church – once called the ‘chapel of the lochs’ from the marshland that encircled the glacial mound. It is thought to date from 1335 AD or earlier. Within the north wall there is a medieval gothic-arched grave recess to the 3rd Laird of Brux and his wife.
stories in stone
The old churchyard is speckled with old and almost indecipherable stones, and a few better kept ones all contributing to the quiet and enchanting beauty of the place with a view; a glacial mound within rich farming land that once might have been an even older burial site.
Opinions differ about the origin of the mound on which the old kirkyard stands. According to one account this has been the site of a series of churches stretching all the way back to one established here by King Bridei I of the Picts in 581. According to other sources, the mound is actually a motte, on which a precursor to Kildrummy Castle stood until the latter was built in about 1250. What is clear is that there has been a church standing here since at least as far back as the early 1300s.
never straight to the grave
All round this hill (Lonach, author’s note) a curious superstition has long been or is still practiced. In whichever side of it there happened a death , the corpse was never carried straight to the grave, without been first taken over the top of Lonach (1200ft/366m, author’s note). When this toilsome ceremony was finished, a dead Forbes was then thought fit to be brought to the picturesque churchyard of Old Kildrummy.
Andrew Picken: Traditionary Stories of Old Familes and Legendary Illustrations of Family Histry, Longman; London, 1833; page 49
The Forbes’s were never carried straight to their graves but up a local hill first. The hill of Lonach rises in the centre of Forbes country, Kildrummy lies further east. A Forbes burial must have been a strenuous task for the pall bearers since they had to carry the coffin up two hills, the Lonach and the Kildrummy mound before they could finally rest.