Tuesday 16 July 2013

Memento Mori



Today I’m taking you to a special secret place that not many people visit. Are you ready ?


We will start here. Inviting, non ?


After struggling along an overgrown path we arrive at this Alice type doorway.Entry is made by pushing aside the pallet and we are in.


Follow the merest suggestion of a path through the trees.


What’s this ?


There you go !


We are on the Keir estate outside Bridge of Allan, home to the Stirlings of Keir since dinosaurs roamed the earth (according to Sarah Palin). A family with a distinguished military tradition, the monument to Sir David, founder of the SAS, is just up the road.


The parish for the estate is called Lecropt and there used to be a small village of this name and a church. Around the beginning of the 19th century it became fashionable for landowners to enclose their estates. The Stirlings built a high wall and several lodges and relocated the tenants and the church to the outside.


If you are heading North on the M9 heading for the A9, you will cross the flat carse land with Stirling Castle on your right, and as you start to climb towards the roundabout, the new Lecropt Kirk is on your right and Keir is on your left.


And this, of course is the Old Lecropt Kirkyard


In the 1960s, Archie Stirling, businessman, farmer, impresario, politician (failed) and Sir David’s nephew, had to sell the house and policies to a Middle Eastern gentleman as a result of “cash flow” difficulties.The current owner does not encourage visitors and sails very close to the wind with regard to the Countryside (Scotland) Act.








This is sometimes referred to as the Stirling Graveyard, but, although many family members are buried here, it was also the last resting place of ordinary local folk up until 200 years ago. So anyone can visit it.If they can find it


This cross marks the site of the altar


Looking down what was the nave 


Back down on the carse, haymaking seemed to be racing on in near perfect conditions.Such a change from last year.


This boy is using an old pick-up baler and sledge to make traditional “square” bales for the private horsey people who can’t handle big round. Notice the wee tractors.





  1. Thanks for taking me there. Wonderful. I presume you know that the Skull and Crossbones headstone usually signifies a grave of A Knights Templar.

    1. I have heard that theory, Alan, and it may apply in your part of the country, but here in Central Scotland the "memento mori" symbol is found on the majority of pre-19th century headstones. I have also heard that it indicates the grave of a freemason, but that is not always the case.Nor does it indicate the grave of a pirate .

    2. The first time i heard of it i was on a guided tour of the old cemetery in Dunvegan on Skye. I was also told it was a Templar grave in Applecross where the headstone is very similar to the one you posted. All very interesting whatever they are. I’ve not come across one in Lancashire but that’s not saying there are non. I think there is one in Gosforth Cumbria.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks John. I use a Metropolitan Police camera - point and shoot.

  3. Fascinating post! There is something ineffably sad and romantic about old graveyards. I can spend hours wandering round Southern Cemetery in Manchester, wildlife and history, it's all there!

  4. Indeed. Entering one of these city cemeteries is like entering another world.
    This one is extremely atmospheric, yet only a couple of hundred metres from a busy motorway.

  5. Fascinating stuff, OM. I'll keep my eye open for that next time I'm passing that way. Old cemeteries, and especially city cemeteries, would make a good theme for a blog. I expect it's already been done to death.

    1. Done to death like the residents :-)
      When I picked the Oldmortality nom de guerre, I hadn't intended to write about gravestones, but certainly they are interesting places.The Glasgow Necropolis round the back of the Cathedral, near the city centre, is a testament in stone to man's abiding quest for immortality.