from Sea God to Saint

Barvas cemetery Cladh Mhuire, Isle of Lewis Lewis differs in so many things from the rest of Scotland but the most obvious to visitors is faith. Religion plays a very prominent role on the island and the church certainly has more influence on life and death than anywhere else in Scotland. Even the smallest of... Continue Reading →

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men only – burials on the Isle of Lewis

On the Isle of Lewis the graves seem shallow and sandy. The cemeteries are often situated close to the sea and sand seems to be more common than earth for a funeral plot. There are regulations of course, coffins are obligatory and once interred they must be covered by at least 3 feet (91cm) of... Continue Reading →

the disemboweled judge

The clan Morrison was strong on the Isle of Lewis, mainly in the area around Ness and Barvas. They held the hereditary office of brieve, meaning they were the judges in the area; a station of absolute power but not always absolute integrity. One John Morrison, brieve of Lewis, had come to the conclusion that... Continue Reading →

death by pownie

Here lies a man o' micht, His name was Donald Downie: He lost his life ae market nicht By fa'in aff his pownie. Aged 37 years Cullen Graveyard, Banffshire   Raymond Lamont-Brown: Scottish Epitaphs. Chambers, Edinburgh,1990

silent watch

Beneath Craig Dhu, which to the clouds doth rise, Beside the Spey, a grassy graveyard lies. The great grey hill its silent watch doth keep O'er those lying in their last long sleep. Many men of the pen and of the sword came out of Badenoch, a history of battles fought and lost; great Clan... Continue Reading →

smoked out

smoked out One day, long in the past, sometime between the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century, the Morrisons of Ness were resting in the mighty Dun Carloway, cattle grazing peacefully outside. It was summer and the days were long, birdsong filled the air. But peace was evanescent and this was... Continue Reading →

an axe wound, mass murder and lust

St Clement’s church, Rodel, Isle of Harris St Clement’s was built as a catholic church under David I, probably by one of the MacLeods of Harris but falling into disuse soon after completion. The Reformation had put an end to Catholicism on the island. It had most likely been a priory, two allegedly excisted on... Continue Reading →

the mourning parents

Our sons they sleep down in this grave, We will not weep to wake them; We will wait till death do come, And we will overtake them. Kelton graveyard Raymond Lamont-Brown: Scottish Epitaphs. Chambers, Edinburgh,1990

The Fife Adventurers

Towards the end of  the 16th century, the Isle of Lewis was a wild, unruly, unhealthy and recalcitrant place. At least according to its King, James VI. It might have been quite a few of these things but educating his people was not what was really on the King’s mind when he took measures to... Continue Reading →

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