Strontian, Ardnamurchan, the Parish church built in the 1820s by Thomas Telford, one of 32 churches built in thinly populated areas, but there is more to be found on this graveyard.
The gravestone of Roderick and Mary Gordon and their sons Adam and James sits here, quietly telling a sad story.
The Gordon family lived a bit away from the graveyard in Bellsgrove, closer to the lead mines further up the hill; a lonely spot and lonely the couple must have felt for many years of their marriage.
Both lived to old age, they died in their mid eighties, Roderick (1852 – 1937) who was six years older than his wife (1858 – 1944), left her to mourn not only him but also her children.
Mary Gordon had two sons when she was already in her late thirties, they must have meant the world to her and her husband. To lose both boys so young and so soon after each other must have been devastating to the couple.
James was the first to die, in July 1916, killed at the Battle of Somme. Being a Gordon, James had been to Aberdeen to enlist with the Gordon Highlanders, an infantry regiment.
In World War One, some 50,000 Gordons served in the regular, territorial and service battalions. Of these, approximately 27,000 were killed or wounded. Among other major battles, every Gordon Battalion saw action in the Somme in 1916.
History of The Gordon Highlanders
James was only 20 years old when he died. He never came home.
His younger brother Adam joined the Gordon Highlanders in Stirling. He fought at the Battle of Arras and was wounded ten Months after his brother‘s death. Adam suffered for four months, then he also died, only nineteen years of age.
Were James and Adam close? Were they close to their parents? In a close-knit community like Strontian and being the only sons to their parents? Probably.
Their mother saw them go to war and she spent the rest of her life mourning them, she saw her husband dying and had to live through another war all alone. Was she bitter? Did she often come here to pray?
In the Battle of the Somme about one million men died, it was one oft he most horrific battles in history. In Arras nearly 300 000 men were killed. Huge numbers, the losses were legion, so many sons dying, but those numbers probably meant nothing to the mother and father of James and Adam. They lost their two sons and felt the complete and utter devastation a war causes. To them those two were not a number, they were real and so was the pain.
A sad story told by just one stone – silent marker of a grave loss.
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