Scotland has a few round and a few octagonal churches. The thought behind both unusual forms is the same: in a building without corners, the devil has nowhere to hide. It could of course also have practical or aesthetic reasons but the old myth of the devil hiding in corners is very much alive in many places.
Tattie Kirk in Falkirk is one of them. Built in 1806 it now houses a gallery and small businesses. As a church, it was only used for 73 years. Kelso and Dundee have octagonal churches as well but still Tattie Kirk feels unique; even today not being used as a church anymore.
One of the reasons why many find Tattie Kirk intriguing might also be the name. It has been suggested that the church was used for potato storage after it went into religious disuse. Or was built on the site of a former potato field. The Scots word tattie means potato.
The church is tucked away and not easy to find. A disused graveyard at the back is fenced in and not accessible.
The church is quite possibly Falkirk’s most unusual building and it is bigger than it looks from the outside, it could seat nearly 600 people.
No dark corners for the devil to hide in.
What the people of Falkirk thought about the devil is clearly seen in the town’s motto:
Better meddle wi’ the devil, than the bairns o’ Falkirk.
It seems Falkirk would have been ready to face any devil hiding in a corner or not.
Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.
Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years.
Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.
This is one place I need to visit and I do like the idea that the devil has no where to hide 😀
The oddity with that graveyard is the spacing between the headstones. There’s no space between for a body unless you stood the coffins up on their ends. I was told by my grandfather that no bodies are buried there. The headstones are a remembrance for those who died abroad, but it was too impractical or costly to bring their bodies home for burial.
Though without visiting after dark, with a shovel, I’d be hard pushed proving this.