"It has an inscription but not legible, being almost worn out by the injury of time." Martin Martin (1616-1790) traveller in the Hebrides, describing a tombstone in Oronsay
The burial grounds of Mull are very beautiful places, with wild-flowers and small birds like wrens nesting in the old stone walls. In season, there are daffodils planted on some graves. There is also a rich resource of family history, in the names, dates and sometimes longer inscriptions. With the ‘injury of time’, the elements and lichen inevitably mean that details get lost. So preserving a record is very important, for folk with family connections on the Ross, and for members of the local community to learn its history.
While the graveyards at Kilpatrick and Fionnphort, and the newer one at Suie have been documented by RoMHC in small pamphlets for some time, the very old site at Kilvickeon, round the ruined chapel, has been more of a challenge. Various people have worked at the task of recording it, over more than 10 years: John Clare at one point, then Sue Reed and Anita Tunstall (pictured here leading a training day in 2012). We are grateful that the Centre has a collection of photographs taken by Iain Howell years ago, when the inscriptions were more legible.
Unfortunately, there was for a time, because of other commitments, no-one to continue the work. Then during lockdown John Clare took it up again, collating all the information gathered so far, with his own research and details from the archives. But the booklet could not be completed without a final push, linking numbered grave-sites on a complex plan with photographs and on-the-spot observation. So at midsummer this year an intrepid team of three waded through the long grasses at Kilvickeon and, in one day, completed the on-site task. John was standing by to put that information in place, and within a few days had completed the booklet, which we can now offer for sale. It has more pages and pictures than the others, which is reflected in the slightly larger price.
However, we can’t put a price on the large amount of voluntary work and enthusiasm, which over the years has gone into surveying and recording and now sharing these riches of the Ross (and maybe solving some of the riddles!)