names and nemesis

Yarrow kirkyard Names locate people, especially in Scotland. Many of the big names are names from the Highlands, like MacDonald. In the south of Scotland, the picture looks different, other surnames established: Armstrong, Scott, Maxwell, for example. All over Scotland nicknames were given generously and just like in the Highlands, each Border clan has a... Continue Reading →

the shepherd and the poet

James Hogg was one of Scotland’s major writers and is (especially in the Scottish Borders) a celebrated author of poetry, essays and novels, his books belong to the curriculum in the upper grades at schools and literature courses of universities. But internationally he is far less known as Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns or Robert... Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →

beautiful Beauly

Beauty of decay, stillness of remembrance,  solitude amongst headstones, what is it people seek on graveyards? It had become popular with the Victorians to drink in the beauty of old graveyards: mist shrouding the past, breathtaking light on ancient stone, the remoteness of hidden places. It was all part of the sublime and the beautiful.... Continue Reading →

eternal king

Old Olnafirth Kirk lies in ruins and has done so for more than a century. It was once known as St. Olaf`s Church and goes back around 300 years. Saint Olaf is not a traditional name in the Christian world but it is a famous one and one that left its mark through many centuries... Continue Reading →

morthouse, bell and pelican

morthouse A morthouse (the name implies it) houses the dead, but only for a short period of time. In the days of body-snatcher and resurrectionists (19th century) who would dig up freshly buried courses to sell them for good profit to surgeons for clinical studies, they were a means of protecting the dead. They were... Continue Reading →

The Highland’s sacred bard

    The path to Little Leny, the Buchanan burial enclosure starts here, in the floodplains of Callander Meadows in the Trossachs. To access the site you cross the former railway line. This field is the second step on the way to the ancient and picturesque graveyard. And thy skull is a sort Of garrison... Continue Reading →

happiness doesn’t need a funeral

S coma nair no àit' ar n-eung dhuinn 'S greadhnachas gun fheum ar tòrraidh.   The time or place of our death doesn' t matter, since happiness doesn' t need a funeral.   Bàrdachd Mhgr. Ailein. The Gaelic Poems of Fr Allan MacDonald. Transcribed, translated and published by John Lorne Campbell; 1965

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