finding graveyards in Lochaber

Lochaber view @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland
Lochaber view

Finding a graveyard is usually a fairly easy task; most have an address or can be googled, even remote ones or those on small islands. In Lochaber, there are quite a few graveyards, that are tricky to find. No address, no trace on Google maps, the search comes up with a few mentions but nothing to indicate an exact location.

How to find graveyards in Lochaber?

On most occasions, a rough idea where the graveyard could be is enough, just keep your eyes open, look for churches or walled enclosures on hills or unusual flora and fauna. Yew trees are peculiar to graveyards, not just in Scotland. I have often benefitted from references in old guidebooks from the 18th and 19th century, especially when it comes to disused graveyards and burial grounds, but that approach can be problematic as well, since the topography has obviously changed considerably in many areas in the last 300 years.

graveyard gate Achnacarry @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland
no sign at the gate to the graveyards of the chiefs of Clan Cameron in Achnacarry

Lochaber has proved to be rather resilient when it comes to finding graveyards: Achnacarry, Clunes and the Old Cameron burial ground in Glen Nevis were all difficult to find. The key to success was local knowledge. Success depends on the willingness to share and on the trust put into you to pay a visit with all respect due.

Charles Kennedy MP

Charles Kennedy was a well-known politician and leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006. For 32 years he was a Member of Parliament, a man who was constantly featured in the press. He had to put up with hatespeech and cruelty on social media.

“And in a BBC Alba TV documentary airing tonight, friends told of abuse on social media and in letters that he suffered in the lead up to his death following a haemorrhage linked to alcoholism.” (The SUN, 23.02.2021)

water fall Lochaber @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland

Lochaber says farewell to one of its own

He died at the age of 55 in Lochaber and media attention was obviously high. The funeral service was well attended: family, locals, politicians, press.

„Following the service, which lasted more than an hour, a lone piper accompanied the hearse and coffin from the church with Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis in full view. The local crowd broke into applause as the hearse was driven past in a final tribute to one of Lochaber’s foremost sons.

After the church the hearse headed for Loch Lochy, along a single track road past Achnacarry Castle, seat of Lochiel Chief of Clan Cameron and where commandos trained in the second world war. Then it was on to the old graveyard at Clunes where Charles Kennedy’s parents Ian and Mary already lay.“ (The Herald, 13.o6.2015)

The hidden graveyard of Clunes

None of the journalists showed up at the graveyard in Clunes. The family wanted privacy, something, Clunes cemetery has in abundance. No reporter was told where the burial took place, and none found it; not surprising considering you have to traverse a large field, cross a burn, follow what looks like an ambiguous deer path until you reach the top of a knoll. Only then and only if you know what to look for – there it is: the graveyard of Clunes.

Kennedys and Camerons are buried separately

The Cameron graves are secluded in a walled area, now sadly in disrepair.

The stones are old, and one is tempted to believe the Kennedy graves to be a new addition but not necessarily so. Looking closely around the modern Kennedy graves, including Charles Kennedy’s and those of his parents, there are old stones and iron posts among the bracken that tell a different tale. And so do the documents that mention Kennedys in Lochaber and Glengarry as early as the 17th century.

This graveyard is old and feels very private.

Treat it with respect if you find it.

Cameron graves Clunes graveyard @nme Nellie Merthe Erkenbach Graveyards of Scotland

“The Liberal Democrats are no poodles, but we are not Rottweilers either.”

(Charles Kennedy)

Liked the read?

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available on Amazon!

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.

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