Projects - Abbey Graveyard - Graveyard History
The History of the Abbey Graveyards
Gravestones are a fertile source for Family History researchers but graveyards, or Burial Grounds as they were often called, are fascinating research projects in their own right, as this page hopes to show. Each one is unique and has its own unique set of sources of information. The records of a burgh like Dunfermline will probably provide more material than those of a small country parish, although even in those cases there may be more information available than one might think.
Scotland is fortunate in having preserved the minutes of numerous Kirk Sessions each of which, among its other duties, was responsible for the upkeep of its graveyard. If the Kirk had a committee of Heritors (local landowners who paid for expensive repairs and other items that could not be financed by the Kirk Session) their minutes are an equally valuable source of information.
The local newspaper often printed articles and letters to the Editor about the local graveyard - usually complaining about the state of it but nevertheless providing details that are not available from any other source. In the nineteenth century many books on local history and collections of reminiscences were published and often contain useful snippets, although it is important to distinguish between hard facts and traditions in these publications and check them with other sources if possible.
Then there are pictures and photographs. Many artists found inspiration for sketches and paintings in the local graveyard and after photography became general in the mid-nineteenth century the volume of graphic material increased significantly.
All these sources have contributed to the story of Dunfermline Abbey Graveyard and research is ongoing. The left-hand panel contains links to articles on various aspects of that history and will be added to as research progresses and more material becomes available.
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