St Mary’c chapel was built by Lord Lovat, chief of the clan Fraser, in the early 19th century and is currently being restored. Normally mass is held once a month.
Many of the old unusually shaped gravestones in the kirkyard are decorated with fleur de lys crosses, a pattern not very common in the Highlands. New graves are mixed with old ones, the unusually grand and spacious St Mary’s chapel rinsing behind them.
Eskadale is a remote place, the river Beauly flows peacefully close to the chapel. This is the land of the Frasers and the Chisholms, the latter chieftains rest not far as the crow flies on the other side of the river. The Beauly basin was a Catholic stronghold and Eskadale still is although large numbers of Catholics were forced to emigrate.
The Lovats are buried behind the church in what looks like a French ornamental garden. A very unusual look in the Scottish Highlands. The otherness is enhanced by the fact that there are stables at the back, used by the family to keep their horses dry during service. They were wealthy for generations, not so much because they fought for riches, they tended to marry them and manage their estates cleverly. As so. many others they originally came to Scotland from France in the 12th century.
The 17th Lord Lovat and 24th clan chief of the Frasers is buried here, he aquired heroe status during the D-Day landing in Normandy in 1945. In Gaelic he was known as MacShimi, son of Simon. He fought like a Highlander and took his own piper to World War II and was a very handsome man. Hitler offered 100k Deutschmark for his head. “Shimi” as he was affectionately called died in 1995.
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The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for my blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. Find treasure all over Scotland with my latest book. I am Nellie Merthe Erkenbach, journalist and author.
My 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 my 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.
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