skull and crossbones

The skull and crossbones are probably the oldest mortality symbols found on Scottish graveyards. The old cemerety in Peebles has a large collection of old stones decorated with a skull or a skull and crossbones. Often an hour glass is combined to signify time running out, or a winged death’s head also indicating that life is nothing solid but fleeting. You cannot hold on to it.

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Walking in sunshine among the gravestones of Peebles old cemetery, death seems near and yet so far: Don’t forget you have to die so go and seize the day!

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graveyard travel guide

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. These stories 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 everything about Scotland except whisky, sheep and tartan.

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

15 thoughts on “skull and crossbones

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  1. I have spotted the skull & crossbones in a cemetery at Loch Leven, I did wonder if they held any significance. It’s something I associate with pirates, although I’m not sure if that just comes from fiction!

  2. there is one in wall at church at kinnell, ithought would be gone as wall has been pointed , but is still in place ,easy to spot now with wall cleaned.

  3. Skull & Cross Bones are images representing Memento Mori, loosely Latin for ‘remember you must die’. Scotland has an abundance of these delightful headstones often mistaken for the graves of Pirates or Knights Templar resting places.. the Jo Swan stone at Cromarty’s St Regulus Burial Ground is a magnificent example dating back to 1600s

      1. Thank you Nellie.. what’s not to love about these resting places
        ..” But pleasures are like poppies spread,
        You seize the flower, it’s bloom is shed;
        Or, like the snow-fall in the river,
        A moment white, then melts forever.. “

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