Whilst looking at the Pictish Stone in this churchyard I had to take a look at the unusual headstones, including a series of tablestones.
I am always curious to see what symbols have been used on the headstones. Here the hourglass is used which symbolises a short life or swiftness of time. The cross and skulls as well as angel wings are common. But my favourite was the pressing iron and shears that indicate the grave was that of a tailor.
Sometimes the dates indicate some illness struck a family; above the two children died within a month of each other. The son only 4 days short of his 7th birthday and his sister not even 5½ years old. What illness struck them down? Measles? Smallpox? Influenza?
The grounds of this cemetery appear to be well looked after, the grass is short and the area around the stones is cleared, but it is sad to see some of the old headstones broken and discarded, some in piles, others propped up against the walls of the ruined church. Lichens and moss make some of them illegible.
A war grave stands proud in the cemetery. Though it too raises questions. How did the young soldier die? And what is 3/5th Black Watch? ¹
When we take such great care to protect one ancient stone (the Pictish Stone) we also need to protect stones that in the future would also relate our history.
¹3/4th, 3/5th, 3/6th and 3/7th Battalions Formed at home bases in March and April 1915. All moved to Bridge of Earn and later in 1915 to Ripon. 8 April 1916 : renamed 4th to 7th Reserve Bns; on 1 September 1916 4th absorbed all others. Moved to Edinburgh in May 1918.
Whilst on the way to visit Glamis Castle in Scotland last year, we took the chance to stop off at Eassie Old Church which is about 2 miles away. There was a specific reason for doing so as it is the site of a Pictish Stone
The Eassie Cross Slab stands 2.02m high by 1.01m wide. It was found in the burn that flows past the churchyard in about 1850. Today it stands within the east end of the shell of the Old Parish Church, displayed within a transparent shelter which protects the stone from the weather. The front of the cross slab is largely covered by a very finely carved and detailed cross.
It is thought to have been carved in 700s or 800s.
The interior of the cross is filled with intricate interlaced patterns. In the four corners are a four-winged angel, mirrored in the opposite corner though this one is extensively damaged. At the bottom left is a hunter wearing a cloak and carrying a shield and a spear and opposite are a series of animals including a stag and a hound.
The rear side is more eroded and damaged, but several carvings can still be identified.
At the top left is a mythical beast ‘elephant’ and two disks along with a Z-rod. Both of these are Pictish symbols. Below this are three men in cloaks, knee-length tunics and carrying staffs. And below the men are three cows, one of which appears to be wearing a cow bell. Top right is another Pict wearing a tunic and carrying a staff or spear next to a potted tree. The bottom right is badly damaged but could contain a horseshoe in the centre.