Looking for a day out with a difference? How about exploring a few of the historic kirkyards of Angus?
Angus Heritage’s newly-launched Historic Kirkyard Trails is an invaluable guide to many of the incredibly interesting parish kirkyards in Angus, which are scattered throughout the county.
“There are some fantastic rural and town kirkyards in Angus,” said Fiona Scharlau, archives manager, Angus Council – and a regular graveyard visitor!
“Historic Kirkyard Trails is a wonderful introduction to this important, and often forgotten, part of our heritage,” continued Fiona, who was closely involved in the development of the Historic Kirkyard Trails, which feature seven clusters of historic kirkyards covering specific areas of Angus, making it possible to follow one of the Historic Kirkyard Trails in a day.
“Several of the Angus kirkyards have gravestones featuring carvings of Adam and Eve, which are very rare, while Logie Pert kirkyard has the Buchanan Stone, with its fabulously intricate medieval carving of the Circle of Life.”
Fiona explained that the guide includes a map showing where the historic kirkyards are located, advice about what to look for in each kirkyard, as well as a list of symbols commonly found on local gravestones – and what they mean.
“For example, an hour glass is a symbol of morality, while Angels are symbols of immortality,” said Fiona.
“There’s so much information on a gravestone – and not only in the symbols. When you read of children dying young, families being felled in one swoop and husbands lost at sea on the other side of the world, you can’t help but be moved.”
Historic Kirkyard Trails was launched by Councillor Alex King, Depute Provost of Angus, at St Vigeans Cemetery, one of the oldest of the Angus kirkyards.
“It’s very fitting that this launch is taking place in St Vigeans as this was the original Parish Church of Arbroath and has been a site of great religious significance since Pictish times,” said Councillor King.
“Featuring kirkyards from Fowlis to Edzell and from Arbroath to Cortachy, Historic Kirkyard Trails will encourage local people and visitors to get out and about across Angus, whether they’re looking for the final resting place of their ancestors or simply enjoy discovering more about the heritage and history of our county.”
Two of the historic Angus kirkyards will feature in Angus Heritage Week, a celebration of the built, natural and cultural heritage of Angus.
This key Angus Council tourism initiative to increase the number of visitors to Angus is taking place from September 7 to 14 and is the first festival of its kind.
“On September 13, the Angus Archives will hold a tour of Arbroath Abbey Kirkyard at 10.30 and then Monikie Kirkyard at 2 pm,” revealed Fiona Scharlau, who will be leading both tours.
“During these free, guided tours, I’ll be explaining the symbols on the stones, highlighting a few fabulous gravestones and sharing some of the stories of the characters buried there.”
Historic Kirkyard Trails is available at leisure centres, ACCESS offices, libraries and tourist attractions across Angus or visit www.angusheritage.com
To find out more about Angus Heritage and Angus Heritage Week, including booking places on the free Historic Kirkyards Guided Tours on 13 September, visit www.angusheritage.com