where the devil lost a soul

This is a story of the devil hunting a soul and losing it to the sacred ground of Birnie Kirkyard. This is an ancient place, the church itself is one of the oldest in Scotland. Christians have worshipped here since the 12th century and the Celts centuries earlier. Birnie was the cathedral to the Bishop... Continue Reading →

Funny Scottish Epitaphs: The Surgeon’s Bones

A serious friend my drop a tear On these dear bones and say These once were strong as mine appear, And mine must be as they. Garrel Churchyard, Dumfries, John Henry, Surgeon, 1798 Raymond Lamont-Brown: Scottish Epitaphs. Chambers, Edinburgh, 1990

mothers and sons

Chiefs of the Clan Grant were the Lairds of Grant, who succeeded to the Earldom of Seafield and to the extensive lands of the Ogilvies, Earls of Findlater and Seafield. The coat of arms of Ogilvie Grant Earl of Seafield can be seen on the mausoleum closer to the church but not on the second... Continue Reading →

stables and steeples

Banffshire was one of the few regions in Scotland that remained Catholic after the Reformation. This also applies to the regions of Barra, South Uist and Moidart. Today, about one eighth of the Scottish population is Catholic. In most cemeteries, the separation is not really obvious, there are some, where it is and there are... Continue Reading →

a holy well and generous offspring

One thing seems to be peculiar about places in Banffshire: they tend to change names over time. This applies to Macduff and Gardenstown as well as to Botriphnie. The name of the village is of Pictish origin (Both Draighnigh), locals still use it to denote the parish. The place itself is now called Drummuir wich... Continue Reading →

one holy and two frightened men

The year 566 is long, long gone. So long, one can no longer imagine what people's lives were like back then. But every now and then, often in very surprising places, Scotland gives us a little look back in time, such as in Mortlach (Dufftown). A small, inconspicuous place in the middle of never ending... Continue Reading →

the failed resurrection of Mother Buchan

Fordyce is beautiful. If you had to paint an idyllic Scottish village, it would look exactly like that: stone houses, winding streets and well-kept gardens. There is nothing here that disturbs the idyll, not even a pub. There used to be a boisterous annual market, but not anymore. A small castle on the corner of... Continue Reading →

bleedy pits

It was at the beginning of the last millennium, the Danes were still threatening the Scottish coast, and the clanchiefs were busy fighting off invaders after invaders. In 1004, the Danes invaded Banffshire and were received with horror as well as courage by the locals. There were not many places along the coast where a... Continue Reading →

leper deaths in Wigtown

The Middle Ages were for many in Scotland a time of poverty and deprivation, a meager diet and dangerous illnesses, low or non-existent sanitary standards, little medical knowledge. Eels were the standard food around Wigtown and the Galloway coast. They were salted and kept in barrels for winter. The poor were the first to catch... Continue Reading →

sin-eatings, dead days, and waulking the dead

The churchyard in Inch in the southwest of Scotland is in no way exraordinary. The parish church austere and grey, the graves ordered and well kept even though the village of Inch doesn't exist anymore. Old funeral customs in Dumfries and Galloway were elaborate and in parts rather strange. One custom, was known as the... Continue Reading →

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