Thursday, 26 March 2015

St Michael's Church Yard 1972 Survey of Gravestones











Controversy rages over what is to be done  with what is arguably the most historic site in Crieff. Followers of  PerthshireCrieffStrathearn Local History Blogspot will recall I ran four  blogs on the Old St Michaels Church and Graveyard way back in July of 2014 .Since then sadly the building has been  further vandalised both inside and out and as  an entity has now  reached the point of inevitable demolition . The graveyard which ceased  to be the towns principal cemetery in 1853 contains recorded interments from the early 1700s  up until the  end of the 19th century Owners of lairs ( burial plots ) had the right after  formal closure  to lay their loved  ones  to rest and this  continued  for about 50 years from that date . The  general condition of  the cemetery deteriorated after the opening of the new St Michaels in Strathearn Terrace in the 1880s and the well known historian and recorder of information on Scottish burial grounds John MacGregor is recorded as saying " It is in a disgraceful state " after his visit to the Cemetery on the 27th of October 1894 .Things  seemed to improve thereafter and when John and Sheila Mitchell carried out the survey of headstones ( with the aid of Jean Davidson and and  local man Marshall Sloan ) in 1972 it was reported as being well kept . Sadly  the things  thereafter began to deteriorate and in  the 1990s the then local authority took it upon themselves  to remove the vast  majority of the stones ( destination  unknown ) and relocate the  better looking ones in a regimental line  parallel to the west boundary wall . Why ? The reason given at the time was to facilitate the cutting of the grass ! 

I consider it important that we do not forget those local souls who lie in this so ancient of places . A place  where Christian baptisms  were performed by the waters of the Alligan Burn as far back as the 6th Century and  people  were buried down through the centuries . 

The involvement of CUSP in trying to assess public opinion in the  future of  both the building and the grave yard  is important . Who  are CUSP ? I replicate the following  from their web site  ( http://www.crieff.org/community-groups/crieff-upper-strathearn-partnership/about-cusp.html )  and ask if you have any input regarding  the site do let them know of this . 

The Crieff and Upper Strathearn Partnership (CUSP) was formed in 2005 at the behest of Perth & Kinross Council, who wanted to be sure that proposals they were receiving from a variety of groups were actually representative of what people in the town and surrounding area wanted.
The object of the Partnership is defined in its constitution as being to “… act as an ‘umbrella group’ with the remit to identify social, economic and environmental projects for the benefit of the people of Crieff and Upper Strathearn and to source appropriate funding. This will be achieved by the inclusion of all partners and working together towards a common goal.”
Groups within the Partnership have nominated representatives who attend meetings which, on average, are held eight times each year. The Partnership is not static; it evolves, and other groups who work with or for the benefit of the community will always be welcomed.
At present (March, 2015), the Partnership is made up of the following constituent groups:
  • Crieff Community Council (CCC)
  • Crieff Community Initiative (CCI)
  • Crieff Community Trust (CCT)
  • Crieff in Leaf (CiL)
  • Crieff & Strathearn Tourist Association (CSTA)
  • Crieff & Strathearn Drovers’ Tryst Festival (DTF)
  • Strathearn Building Bridges (SBB)
  • Strathearn Vintage Ploughing Association (SVPA).
























1 comment:

  1. Colin you have kindly identified the partner groups that form CUSP. Each of these groups work for the good of the community, indeed three are charities. In all they have several hundred members.

    Crieff.org (the Crieff Community Website) is run and maintained by CUSP. When it published its assessment of St Michael's Church Hall and the surrounding graveyard it also published an article written by yourself, alongside its own news item. CUSP has never denied the history and heritage attached to this site.

    Sadly, as you detail above, the vast majority of the gravestones have been removed. The majority of those that remain have been re-positioned. Thank goodness you at least have a record, which in itself has historical merit.

    Many will be glad that the issue of one of several derelict buildings and sites in the town is being addressed. CUSP has no idea what the outcome of debate will be, but as the old church hall currently stands, i.e. damaged roof and stone works, needing paint on its wood, with numerous broken windows, walls blighted by graffiti and dog fouling - this building does no favours for Crieff or the 'Crieff Heritage Trail.'

    CUSP has aimed for balance in its report and in its response to press enquiries. Thank you for your assistance in highlighting these concerns.

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