Book Review – “A Scots Quair” Lewis Grassic Gibbon

March 9th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink


Yes, definitely. Last book seems a bit rushed, which it seemingly was. There’s a film of Sunset Song coming soon apparently.

Tulliallan Kirkyard & Gravestones

March 6th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

At the end of a wee cul de sac, in the north of Kincardine, there is a small kirkyard accessible by key (or over a wall) which contains hundreds of beautifully carved 18th century gravestones. I’ve never seen such a huge amount of variety and imagery in one graveyard. Here are some images, though I could have put more up, plus a wee bit about each one – I am indebted to the work and website of the Kincardine Local History Group, who seem to have done a lot of work to help ensure these excellent examples of craftsmanship and memento mori are still in pretty good shape after more than 250 years. There are lots of skulls, hour-glasses, ships, tools etc and a lot of architectural settings – and a lot of things that I have no idea about.

Tulliallan Kirkyard – the actual Kirk is in good shape too, but locked up – dated 1675.


Spirals – Portable Compass – Hourglass – Skull – Crossbones

“Here lies the corps of THOMAS RANKINE overseer of Alloa Coal Work who died on the 10th of June 1805”


Memento Mori – Heart – Arches – Iron – Hourglass – Tailors Scissors – Crossbones – Skull

“1755 – IK * MC”


Crown – Skull – Hammer – Crossbones – Hourglass – Memento Mori

“Here lyeth GEORGE STEWART procrate betwixt JAMES STEWART and JEAN McCLAREN. He was born the 3rd day of March 1784. He died 25th February 1750” (Somehow seems to have been born after he died) – ‘Although my dust is all about thee…<unreadable>…touch’ ‘Yet in my flesh shall I my God behould’

(The crown and the hammer generally are meant to represent Hammermen, an incorporation which seems to include any trade that involves hammer on metal)


Spirals – Memento Mori – Skull – Crossbones – Hourglass – Ship

“1758 – AT * KD”

Single masted ship, Bowsprit with 2 foresails; Main sail with boom & gaff, Flag flying against wind


Winged Soul – Columns Supporting Pineapples – Strange Skull – 2 Hourglasses – Hammer – Pineapples – Chains – Leaves – Wedges

“Here lyes MARGRET RONAL spouse to JOHN DUNKESON, Quarie, who died the 10 of January 1724 hir age 38 years”

(Pineapples were sometimes used to indicate prosperity and eternal life)


Cornucopia – Hourglasses – Face – Spiral Columns – Angels with Trumpets (x2) – Skulls with Fruit & Leaves connected by Tongue – Shovel crossed with a Broom – Bones

“1728 – RB * MW”

(The shovel and broom represent a Maltster – basically involved in the making of beer)


Tailors Scissors – Iron

“1789 – AS * AM”

(Why is the upper part so blank?)


Hourglass – Set Square – Dividers – Columns – Single Castle

“1794 – JC * MMcF”

“Here lyes the corps of JANET COPLAND who died December 8th day 1793 aged 22 years
Also J N COPLAND died Feby 4th day 1796 aged 2… years & JAMES COPLAND March 9th day 180”

(The castle is “part of the tree castles of the Mason’s Guild”)


Hourglass – Columns – Anchor – Skull

“1788 – AT * MM”


Spirals – Columns – Skull – Memento Mori – Share & Coulter – Crossbones – Hourglass

“Here lies the dust of MARGARET COPLAND who died … Feb 1811 aged 40 years
THOMAS GIBSON, Farmer, died 22 Nov 1912 aged 78 years
AGNES GIBSON his wife died 12th July 1922 aged 80 years”

(Share and Coulter are elements of a plough ie Farmer)


Hourglass – Woodcutter – Tree

“As the tree falls so must it ly”

“1787 – AW * AW”

(The woodcutter is striking in his relaxed, almost arrogant wood cutting style)


Spirals – Columns – Memento Mori

“1756 – RF * IB”

(Why is there nothing on it?)


Hourglass – Skull – Crossbones – Two Shipwrights Working using Dividers & Mallet

“1716 – ID”

(This is unusually figurative, showing people working, not just their tools – but why two people? Is that hair, or a strange hat?)


Heart – Crossbones – Single masted ship; Main mast with boom & gaff; 2 fore sails; Flag flying against the wind – Memento Mori – Hourglass

“Here lyeth the corps of JENNET WANAN who died the 28 day of April 1719 hir age 24 years”

“1728 – AC * JW * MS”

(The ship and waves are particularly animated here, and its an unusually big heart)


Winged Soul – Skull – Hourglass – Heart – Crossbones – Section of Rope – Rope Spinner

“1718 -GT * IK”

(Nice hexagonal badge and rope related emblems)


Flowers – Skeleton – Ship – Hourglass

“1732 – WW * ED”

(Apparently the flowers are garlic flowers. I find this one particularly intriuging – the KLHG describe this as a skull, with “3 Masted ship, upper sails and top gallant set, Main sails furled, 4 flags flying against the wind” – but to me, the skull seems attached to a skeleton (see closeup below), and appears to have 2 very saggy breats hanging down, which brings to mind a painting of a female death figure. Either way, skeleton or ship, it is a complex arrangement.)



Spirals – Columns – Anchor – Hourglass – Crossbones – Weavers Tools

“1767 – JD * MS * JD * KG”

(The weavers tools are a shuttle, carding comb and stretchers)


Heart – Compass – Skull – Crossbones – Anchor

“1764 – JG * TH”


Memento Mori – Crossbones – Hourglass – Heart attached to Spring Anchor – Flowers – Heart

“1737 – WS * MC”

Fife’s Pictish Cave Carvings

March 6th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Fife – “a beggar’s mantle fringed wi gowd”. Only, some of the fringing has worn away and become a bit tatty and unloved. Driving from the East Neuk to East Wemyss, the neglect is evident when passing through former industrial towns such as Leven, Buckhaven and Methil. There is an excess of pebble dash. That’s not to say they aren’t interesting. Further on, there is Coaltown of Wemyss, West Wemyss and Dysart. I’ve often thought of Fife as an area of quite extreme contrasts, which to me is of interest. East Wemyss has a touch of gold about it, down by the shore, in the midst of a pebble dash estate, there is a series of caves, some of which contain Pictish (apparently), Viking and Christian carvings. What is so frustrating about this place is the seeming lack of care with which the caves are protected. There is no information on what you are looking at, no signposts (other than info boards that sit in the middle of the car park) – a bit of funding from the Lottery seems to have provided a couple of benches. The paths are neglected, there is no signposting coming from the East – there is even a lack of interest from kids, as I saw very little evidence of fires, used condoms (that doesn’t rule out unprotected sex, see Fife’s teenage pregnancy rates) underage drinking, drug taking etc etc. Apparently, in the 80’s some kids from Buckhaven drove a car down to the caves and set it alight, which damaged some of the carvings. Anyway, I can’t tell you much about the carvings, which are from what period. There does seem to be some local groups set up to protect the caves (see here and here) and I am sure they do their best, but these caves should have some sort of visible support from Fife Council, or SNH or something. I have a suspicion that if the caves were placed in a more geographically ‘golden’ area of the Fife coast, there would be more made of them, but as it is, perhaps it is satisfyingly Fife for them to be where they are, and how they are. Oh yeah, Time Team visited in 2004, you can watch the episode here.



Youtube Selection March 2013 (2)

March 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Youtube Selection March 2013 (1)

March 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

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