Adam and Eve Stones
Forbidden fruit is a different matter for it is part of Christian belief. Once taken from the tree of the knowledge of the good and the evil, it might not be deadly it but ends all things happy and beautiful
The naked figures of Adam and Eve to mark a grave – this is very much 18th century thinking. Generally they were not depicted utterly naked; it would have seemed out-of-place on a grave. Essential part of the design were the tree and the serpent.
As a memento mori the Adam and Eve symbolism must have appealed to many. The intricate and rich carving the symbol needed, made it a rare treat on Scottish graveyards, only few could afford it.
The Garden of Eden, Paradise, man before the fall, all highly desirable states to be in; in that sense a very positive design choice if it weren’t for the fall of Adam and the temptation of Eve, for the serpent and the shame that came with it.
Adam and Eve stones are a warning, a bad example set in stone. Do not be tempted, stay strong and true, it says.
There are two fine examples of Adam and Eve stones in Little Dunkeld Churchyard, one dates back to 1744, the other to 1762.
More Adam and Eve stones can be found in Logierait Churchyard: The serpent beguiled Eve.
In both cases the figures depicting Adam and Eve, the prototype Christian man and woman, in a rather desexualised way. Adam does not look particularly masculine, nor does Eve look very feminine. Decency is a major part of gravestone design and certainly has been in 18th century Scotland. After all, a graveyard is a place of mourning.
Just a few yards away from the Adam and Eve stones in Little Dunkeld Churchyard, a man was buried, whose lament for the death of his second wife has become famous: Niel Gow, the famous Scottish fiddler of the 18th century. He stopped playing after his second wife died but took the instrument up again with the famous lament: more beautiful a memento than any carving on a stone could be.
Niel Gow died soon after his second wife, he was 80 years old. His gravestone was taken to Dunkeld Cathedral in 1986, a new one was erected over his grave in Little Dunkeld Churchyard, commemorating the famous Scottish fiddler, both his wives and one of his fives sons.
More on Niel Gow: Folkmusic.net