Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Greyfriars Kirk

Many's the time I've walked past Greyfriars Kirk, looked up the alley to the building, and disinterestedly walked on by. So this last week, we popped in to have a close look. I was amazed. It has the most interesting graveyard I've ever seen in Scotland - scores of 17th and 18th century graves, climbing the ancient walls of the city and nearby tenements like stone ivy. Here are buried some of the most prominent people in Edinburgh and Scottish life - a hidden garden, right in the heart of the city centre. It is a historic place - founded by Mary, Queen of Scots, and the place where the Covenant was signed in 1638 - and the place where many Covenanters were imprisoned after their capture at the Battle of Drumclog, awaiting the gallows.

After hours, this graveyard becomes the haunt of local goths, down-and-outs, and ghost tours - which seem to have blossomed recently. But on a spring day of lovely sunshine, with the cherry blossom coming out and roccoco decoration to the dead everywhere, there could be fewer spots in central Edinburgh more peaceful and pleasant for a picnic than the grounds of this Kirk. There is something very Edinburgh about this dichotomy, this dislocation between degradation and culture.

Unfortunately my camera has died, so you will just have to be satisfied with a word picture!

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