Following the report in the first edition of the Wee Vine, anyone viewing the Kirkyard now can be forgiven for thinking things have taken a step backwards. This is mainly due to the upheaval caused by the masons who have been building the new bus shelter, using the grounds for storing stone, consent for which was given by the Council, but also for mixing cement! It also seems to have been deemed a suitable place for depositing superfluous wheelie bins!
In addition, the Council have carried out the long awaited risk assessment, and, in view of the dangers from unstable stones (19 in total) and also hazards underfoot, Barbara Docherty of the Council Cemeteries, has now decreed the graveyard “out of bounds” to the general public.
However, progress is being made, albeit behind the scenes!
A photographic copy of the 1873 lair plan together with a complete list of burials has been obtained from the Council Archives. This has brought to light many grave locations which are no longer visible due to the build-up of undergrowth. Surprisingly there are 232 lairs in total although it may be that the earliest burials do not have a memorial.
A date for the anticipated clearing of brambles, ivy and general undergrowth by the Council Rangers and local volunteers has been put back to October as birds have now begun to nest. This will enable an essential photographic record of the stones ‘before restoration’ to be completed, a task already begun, where possible, by June Waley. This will eventually be followed up by careful uncovering of the stones and records made of inscriptions. Murray Cook, the Council Archaeologist, has already met Kippen Heritage members in early March to advise on safely cleaning the gravestones.
Since the kirk and the adjacent Key grave enclosure are Grade B listed, the Planning Department had to be notified of any pending work and it was hoped that Planning Consent would not be required. A site visit with Catherine Malley, the Council Planning Conservation Officer, has now been held and thankfully she has advised that formal planning consent would not be required if a full specification and ‘method of work’ statement was submitted, not only for the complete restoration of the ruin, but also for the damaged grave enclosure. Unfortunately, this will substantially increase previously anticipated costs which were for simply making the stonework safe. Revised quotations are now in hand.
Through Fiona Clark, Kippen Heritage was delighted to receive a letter and photograph from Norman Wilson in Wales, whose great grandparents, James Kay and Janet Ingles, are buried in the Kirkyard. Mr Wilson was born at Fairfield where his father farmed. His grandparents lived at Woodside. The accompanying photograph was taken in 1989 and the effects of neglect can clearly be seen when comparing with a recent photograph of the same view! Mr Kay has kindly donated a sum in support of the project. His letter included the following eulogy written in memory of his forebear.
Irene Chapman, Kippen Heritage