Kirkyard Trail

the trail

Clackmannanshire has many old and truly beautiful graveyards – one reason for the Ochil Landscape Partnership (OLP) to repair, preserve, interpret, and present a group of historic cemeteries within walking distance, grouped together as the Kirkyard Trail.

Graveyard of Scotland Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Kirkyard Trail Muckhart


Graveyard of Scotland Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Kirkyard Trail Muckhart

There are seven graveyards amongst the Hillfoots that oficially belong to the trail, one is private, six are kirkyards, Muckhart being one of them. This is the graveyard of two settlements, the hamlet Yetts o’ Muckhart and Pool of Muckart where the Parish Church stands. The Georgian building incorporates various stones of earlier buildings. The first church in Muckhart dates back as far as the 13th century.

Graveyard of Scotland Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Kirkyard Trail Muckhart

female explorer

Graveyard of Scotland Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Kirkyard Trail Muckhart

Buried here is the body of a very remarkable woman – Isabella Christie of Cowden, called Ella. She was born in 1861 and died in 1949, she was buried with here family here in Muckhart.

She certainly was her own woman, never married, and travelled widely to the most unusual places of the world: Uzbekistan, Russia, America, India, Tibet, Borneo and the Far East. The Victorian explorer is said to have kept a pistol under her skirts. Well, just in case. Her family was wealthy, she could afford it and seems to have been a very independent spirit. She met the Dalai Lama, banqueted with the Maharaja and created an impressive Japanese garden a short distance away from the graveyard, inspired by what she had seen during her extensive travelling and her trip to Japan in 1907.

Graveyard of Scotland Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Kirkyard Trail Muckhart

Japanese gardener

Ella Christie’s first and main gardener was Shinzaburo Matsuo. He had come to Cowden after having lost his family in an earthquake and died in far from home in 1937. He contributed greatly to the truthfulness and authenticity of the Japanese garden.

Muckhart is an ideal start to the Kirkyard Trail. Don’t miss Upper and Lower Tillicoultry, Dollar, Muckhart, Logie and Alva, as well as at the private burial ground of Harviestoun Castle, Tait’s Tomb.

Graveyard of Scotland Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Kirkyard Trail Muckhart

Liked the read? There’s more here...

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. 

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.

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.

sources and further reading


Cowden garden

Kirkyard Trail

5 thoughts on “Kirkyard Trail

Add yours

  1. Have you been to old burial ground in Tillicourtry? I only know it as Old Parish Church graveyard. It’s literally in the middle of a housing estate. If not it’s well worth a look. I will add these graveyards to my list of one’s to visit…😀

      1. It has some of the oldest graves in the Hillfoots. There is also Tait’s Tomb on the road out of Tillicoultrt heading to Dollar. You can’t actually get into it but can get to the gate.

      2. I had read about Tait’s tomb. Unfortunately so far I have never been sucessful in being granted admission to private burial grounds yet. There are a few interesting ones in Scotland. But I will keep trying 🙂

      3. I only got to the gate and looked through. Don’t think anyone can get in. But it’s still worth a visit 😁

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: