Lost in the graveyard

I will look fondly back at many things about Edinburgh; but I am certain I will miss her graveyards something fierce.

There is something old and worldly about the cemeteries here.

They are often ragged, with more stones lying down than standing erect. They crumble and fade in a way that’s romantic and sad; like ancient monuments ravished by time.


I love many things about them, and have spent many days wandering the uniformly-unique rows of stone relics.

I love the grandiose angels, obelisks, urns, and even pyramids of pristine marble.

I love the humble stones of unhewn granite, with generation after generation carved into one rock face.

I love the half-hidden sickles, ibis and rams; symbols of old fraternities and loyalty.

I love the way the ivy and crocus and lichen creep into hallowed crevices, bringing life to these places.

I love the peaceful solitude of somewhere built for quiet reflection and remembrance.



Some stones tell lengthy tales. One near the Modern Art Gallery recounts a sailors voyage exploring the Americas in detail —  how his body is still there, lost in the ice, but his family erected this stone in his memory.

Another is covered with a Confederate flag of the American South, and has fresh flowers every week (I’ve always wanted to camp out and see who brings them).

Many have long, piously Victorian bible quotes scrolling over them.

But others are nothing but names and dates.

The cemetery across from our house (which I still think of as the New House) is huge and sprawling. Most graves are late Victorian up through the Second World War.

And it has the best names in the business inscribed on its plinths. Should I ever wish to write a Belle Époque romance of hearty Scottish folk I would scout for names here:

Hectorina. Ephemia. Winnie.

Aloysius. Octavius. Hamish.

Pure gold I tell you.


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