Old Gravestones

A selection of old gravestones from the Chapel Yard Cemetery on Chapel Street in Inverness. Most of the standing gravestones I could read are from the late 18th and all the way through the 19th Centuries, but apparently there is still one remaining stone from the 1600s – not that I could find it though.

There has been a burial ground of some kind or other on this site since the 12th Century, where there stood a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Green, so there must have been a lot of people buried here over the centuries since, long forgotten in the mists of time.

After the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie’s followers destroyed a lot of the old tombs of ancestral families who did not support the cause – historic vandalism certainly has a lot to answer for when it comes to such wanton desecration of hallowed ground. (Looking at you here, Henry VIII, with your reformation rampage and deliberate demolition of so many religious relics in the mid-1500s.)

Looking around today it’s hard not to notice so many ‘and their children’ additions to the current old stones remaining in situ, with many children not even being named individually, but I suppose infant mortality would have been high in those days. Two gravestones photographed here that particularly caught my attention are inscribed only as follows:

‘John McLeod and Margaret McIntosh A Lovely Wife & A Dutiful Mother 1823’

‘1855 Our Little Ones’

I can think of a worse epitaph than being remembered as being a lovely wife and a dutiful mother, but how sad to have a whole gravestone dedicated only to your nameless lost children… โค

A Doorway But No Door

I found this overgrown stone doorway within the old Chapel Yard Cemetery in Inverness, but sadly no door to go with it, only an iron gate. Oh well! Hopefully I can still use some artistic license and count it as a door though?

Although most of the surviving (or at least readable) gravestones are from the late 18th to 19th Centuries, apparently there has been a graveyard of some sort on this site since the 12th Century. This is the grandest example but these open air walled ‘rooms’ dotted around seem to be old family enclosures or mausoleums belonging mainly to all the ‘big’ names of the town, although there are plenty of ordinary grave markers here too ๐Ÿ™‚

Thursday Doors

Both Weathered and Unexpected

It’s probably a bit late for both Weekly Prompt challenges but I only found this guy today and just had to share him – better late than never!

This is a sandstone effigy of a knight, and along with one small section of sandstone pillar still standing in a small, very old graveyard he is all that remains of a Dominican Friary built here in 1233. He has no arms any more, and his head and chest are extremely weathered, but if you look closely you can still see the design on his belt buckle holding his scabbard and long sword by his left hip. On his right side there is a shorter stabbing sword or big knife, and looking behind his shoulders there is still a hint of chain-mail patterning cut into the stone.

He’s maybe not the clearest of effigies to make out but the poor guy is just shy of 900 years old and sandstone is not the most hard-wearing substance on the planet, so I’d say he’s looking pretty good in the circumstances, even his knobbly knees. Especially as the friary itself was disbanded and destroyed during the reformation in the mid-16th Century, with many of the original stones being re-used for major buildings elsewhere in the town, so he’s lucky to have survived.

I’d decided today to explore two of the three old burial grounds within a stone’s throw of each other in the middle of Inverness – Blackfriars is the smallest and most hidden from view of them all, tucked in behind a rather ugly relatively modern telephone exchange building, and I’d never actually been there before so finding a 13th Century stone knight still standing strong was a pretty cool find. I imagine he’d be pretty spooky at night though, looming out of the wall like that ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Unexpected

Weekly Prompt: Weathered

April A-Z: Y is for Years Ago

Years agoโ€ฆ or rather centuries agoโ€ฆ actually a couple of millennia ago (around 300 BC or thereabouts), Iron Age people built a hill fort on the crown of what is now Craig Phadrig hill (literally Patrickโ€™s Rock) on the western outskirts of Inverness, and then at some point apparently burned it when it went out of use, effectively fusing the rocky ramparts together.

According to history (or maybe just heresay, who knows) the site was used again as a stronghold much later in the 6th Century by the Pictish King Brude, at around the same time he was supposedly converted to Christianity by St Columba.

All thatโ€™s left of it today is an oval perimeter earthwork of vitrified rocks lying solid underneath the grassy soil, but the flat top of the hill is still an impressive vantage point for miles around โ€“ or at least it would be if there werenโ€™t so many tall trees blocking the view! There is a well-maintained forest path all the way up to the hill fort, but it gets a bit steep at times towards the top โ€“ I really enjoyed my walk, though, and it certainly got my heart-rate going for some proper aerobic exercise.

I see the tree-covered hillside of Craig Phadrig every morning when I open my bedroom curtains, so after wracking my brains all month to work out what to do for a โ€˜Yโ€™ post this year I finally decided some photographs of what remains of the old half-hidden hill fort at the top would perhaps make a good โ€˜Y is for Years Agoโ€™ piece of ancient history from before there was even an Inverness!

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

April A-Z: C is for Castle

Inverness has had a castle of one sort or another on this site since the 11th Century, but this particular red sandstone version was built in the 19th Century and housed the Sheriff Court for as long as I can remember – this is actually where I did my civic duty by carrying out jury service in a court case many years ago. But a newly built Justice Centre has very recently been opened in a new location on the outskirts of town, leaving the castle building free for development as a tourist attraction into the future.

The statue standing outside the castle is of Flora Macdonald, who during the Jacobite Rebellion helped Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender, the Stuart claim to the British throne) escape back to France after the bloody Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 – so exactly 274 years ago this month.

When I was young I used to hear the romantic stories of Bonnie Prince Charlie getting away ‘under the skirts of a woman’ and I always used to wonder how he ever managed to crawl along curled up between a woman’s legs (literally under her skirts) without anyone noticing – it was only years later I realised it meant he actually dressed up as a maid-servant in order to evade capture… Duh! So now every time I see the statue of Flora Macdonald it makes me smile, remembering my youthful naivety…

Oh, and I’ve also included a close up of the main door in honour of yesterday’s Thursday Doors! ๐Ÿ™‚

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

April A-Z: A is for Abertarff House

Abertarff House in Church Street is the oldest secular building in Inverness.

It was built in 1593 and after a long and chequered history of use (including a period of disrepair) has been restored by the National Trust for Scotland. Since 2018 it has been open to the public – although due to the current Coronavirus pandemic it is closed, as is most of Inverness, and Scotland, and the UK, and the world for that matter.

I had hoped to take the historical tour and take some proper photographs to share, but was waiting for the weather to pick up before doing my tourist bit. However it seems I left it too late and now we’re in lockdown limbo so sadly that particular post (along with many others) will have to wait for a later date, sometime in the future when life returns to some semblance of normality.

So for now, here is a side-on view of the outside of Abertarff House as seen from the street.

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

Yesterday’s News

Newspapers are a strange kind of snapshot of society at that time – not only by what is put in (what constitutes ‘news’), but also by the form it is put in (what kind of wording is used)? And because newspapers are by nature throwaway items they don’t often last long outside of archives.

Sometimes though, old newspapers were maybe used to wrap fragile items in storage, or perhaps to line old drawers, or were simply put down somewhere and forgotten about, so that every now and again musty yellowed snippets (or sometimes even whole copies) survive to give us a glimpse into the everyday past.

Such is the fate of this tattered copy of the Glasgow Herald dated Thursday December 20, 1877. No idea if it’s an original, or a copy printed at a later date for another reason, but there seems to be no indication that I can see of it relating to any special anniversary reprint or anything? Whatever the reason for its existence, the paper is old and yellowed, and the print itself is tiny with minimal line spacing, and not surprisingly for the mid-19th Century, there are no pictures, only words.

It holds the main sections I would expect – Births, Marriages and Deaths, Lost and Found, Situations Vacant, Situations Wanted, Public Entertainment and Exhibitions, News, Financial Pages, Public Notices, For Sale and Wanted, and Travel Notices, across eight broadsheet pages.

The first thing of note to my 21st Century eyes is the form of the birth announcements. There is the surname, the place of birth (all at home in these days, of course), the date of the delivery, and the name of the mother (as in Mrs Husband’s Name, no first name of her own) and the gender of the child. A definite nod to ownership rather than partnership in marriage to be so subsumed under your husband’s identity that you do not exist as an individual in your own right!

And when it comes to lost and found, how exactly do you come to ‘lose’ a barrel of pork in the first place! Might there have been a public house or two on Springfield Lane?

It seems odd today with all our Equality and Diversity regulations to be advertising for lads – particularly for ‘stout lads’ at that, but I suppose with so much extreme poverty in Victorian Britain weedy, sickly lads were more the norm. Girls would presumably have been in service?

Although in the situations wanted column there are even two women offering a wet nurse service.

The news pages seem to be taken up with ‘The War’, so I had to look up online which war was in the news in 1877 – and it seems to have been the Russo-Turkish War that had kicked off earlier that year. British concern seems to have been due to shipping trade through the Suez Canal which had only been opened in 1869.

And when it comes to travel, there are countless ads for multiple ships offering passage for both people and goods right across the globe.

But the announcement that caught my attention the most was with regard to the telephone, stating that a right to manufacture had been granted for Bells’ Patent Speaking Telephone, which I believe had only been patented the year before! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hidden Figures – Facts and Fiction

We watched the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ on TV the other night, and we really enjoyed it, in an uncomfortable sort of way.

The movie tells the story of three black women who worked for NASA in the early 1960s, whose work effectively helped US astronaut John Glenn orbit the earth and return safely. It may or may not have represented an exact representation of reality, and of course the script was sanitised and smoothed over and given the usual glitzy movie-glamour treatment, but for me overall it represented an awkward, embarrassing time in history in a positively entertaining way. The storyline was based on a true story, but it was also a movie, not a docu-drama, and to my mind it did the job reasonably well.

Because the point is, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were real people – that is an undisputable fact. And they were clearly top class mathematicians and scientists who did indeed work for NASA – another indisputable fact. That they would have met with the inherent societal prejudice of Jim Crow at that time is also a matter of historical record. But had it not been for the movie, I might never have heard of them, and that would have been my loss. So whatever people’s opinions on the narrative accuracy of the movie, I’ve learned something factually important from it and surely that has to be a good thing?

So who won the week for me this week (albeit retrospectively by about half a century) is without doubt, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Pioneers of their time. Thank you ladies, and I raise a toast to you ๐Ÿ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Century

History of a House

This morning we received a bulky pack of legal papers from our solicitor – our house purchase last October has now been recorded by the Land Registry and all the formal documentation held with the original Title Deeds now belongs to us.

And it seems that with these information-rich papers, all clearly dated, I can piece together the history of our house from the initial land purchase in 1925 through the first property sale in 1933 all the way through several changes of ownership to us in 2019!

I really love looking through old papers, and however convenient digital documents may be, you can’t beat the smell and feel of handling old paper and ink – it’s a real, genuine hands-on experience to be able to touch the past, an immersion in history that for me, simply can’t be replicated online ๐Ÿ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Paper

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘Co-‘

Yeah I know, it’s Sunday again and I’m only now getting round to my Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. But in my defense the wi-fi connection here at my mum and dad’s is not the best at the best of times, so I get frustrated and don’t bother half the time.

Anyway, yesterday we went for a walk along the shore at Fort George, which was built after the end of the Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden in 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie and his co-conspiritors had tried (unsuccessfully) to regain the British throne for the House of Stuart from King George II.

Fort George first opened its heavy studded doors in 1749, long after the Jacobite threat had subsided, and is still occupied by the British Army today. Here’s a couple of pics from around the entrance and outside of the Fort ๐Ÿ™‚