Behind the locked gates of the Old Kirkyard work is proceeding!
Starting at the west side (against the Smiddy wall), flat grave slabs, long since buried beneath the overgrowing turf, have been exposed to reveal inscriptions, with names long since forgotten. In many cases the turf can be rolled back easily to reveal a fascinating ‘mirror image’ of the inscription, as can be seen from the accompanying photograph. Many older memorials have simply initials or no inscription at all, but thanks to archive material, the name of the deceased can usually be traced.
However, the archive material, having come from various sources, can be confusing. For example, the lair plan, dating from 1873, appears to have been prepared in conjunction with a handwritten record of the purchaser of each lair, begun in 1873 also, but with no information as to when that purchase was made; subsequent burials have then been added up to the 1960’s. However, clearly burials in the kirkyard took place from the late 17th century when the kirk was built, and indeed many pre 18th century stones exist, but are not necessarily recorded in the 1873 archive. It is hoped that with further onsite research, some of these gaps can be filled.
In view of the apparent escalating costs for the work which is required before the gates can be reopened, it has been decided to apply in the first instance for Heritage Lottery funding. Having submitted an initial enquiry which generated some sound advice as to how best to proceed, the application itself has become quite a protracted exercise and is still ongoing.
However, as a result of the many letters of support which have been sent to Kippen Heritage, for inclusion in the forthcoming submission, hopefully the next issue of the Wee Vine will have something positive to report in this respect. Thanks therefore to Friends of Kippen Kirk, Kippen Community Council, Kippen Primary School, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the various departments of Stirling Council; Cemeteries, Archaeology and Ranger Services, for their support.