Dalserf hogback stone

Upper Clydesdale is geographically determined by the River Clyde, the longest river in the United Kingdom. It has contributed much to the industrialization of the region; the model city of New Lanark personifies that like no other. But away from the industrial centres, Lanarkshire is quiet and pretty. There is something to discover everywhere.

Dalserf church and graveyard

Dalserf is no more than a small village in Lanarkshire today. When coal mining in the 19th century was no longer profitable, Dalserf steadily lost its residents. A row of well restored miner cottages leading to the kirk and its graveyard adds flair to the settlement if not numbers.

gate Dalserf cemetery

Back in the past, Dalserf was not only more alive but also more dangerous. Many Covenanters were active here as well as their pursuers. They fought a deadly war during the times of religious upheaval in Scotland. Those who killed and those who were killed all ended in a kirkyard in the end.

Dalserf is special in that it has a much older relic in the cemetery, a hogback stone. These stones are typical of the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon area. They were created between the 10th and 12th century. This massive block of stone has the shape of a longhouse with a roof, as it was known by the Vikings. It also recalls the shrines that were used to store relics in sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage. It was fashionable among the wealthy people of the time to have gravestones in this form. Most of these artifacts are now in museums, few are as freely accessible as that of Dalserf.

hogback stone

The church building itself is beautiful in black and white going back to 1655; it was renovated in 1894.

 

sources and further reading:

Daniel Martin: Upper Clydesdale. A History and Guide. Birlinn, 2016

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