Largs Skelmorlie Aisle Burial Site

Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Description

This graveyard is located in the centre of the town of Largs. It is approached through an entry (Manse Close) on the North side of Main Street, a short distance from the sea front. The manse of the old parish church was a typical early 17th century town house. It stood on the north side of the Close and was demolished in 1900. The present block of flats, which replaced it, carries on its front the date 1901, together with the weathered 1606 date-stone from the manse. Within the Close, the graveyard gates may be seen between the flats on the left and the Largs Museum on the right. A flight of steps leads up to the graveyard level, about two metres above the level of the Close. A stone in the wall at the left side of the gateway carries the date 1636. Since the graveyard contains the Skelmorlie Aisle, a valuable ancient monument in the care of Historic Scotland, the gates are normally kept padlocked until keys are requested at Largs Museum. There is a secondary gate in the north wall, not used by visitors, giving access to Lade Street. The graveyard formerly contained the old parish church, demolished in 1812. There appears to have been a church on this site for a long number of years. Evidently it was referred to in a Papal Bull of 1265. Relatively small, the graveyard measures about 44 metres North-South x 50 metres East-West, with an approximately semicircular area It is surrounded by a wall of sea worn and, in places, roughly cut stones. On its north side, where it adjoins the tree-clad ‘motte’, known as Gallow Hill, there are two small walled rectangular extensions containing graves, known respectively as Caskie’s ground, and Greg’s ground. In 1983 - 84 when monumental inscriptions were being recorded in all the North Ayrshire burial grounds; Largs Historical Society took part in survey work in the local graveyard, and arranged for drawings of all the gravestones to be made. In the finished volume a separate page has been given to each gravestone and its inscription. Copies may be studied in Largs Museum and in Ardrossan Local History Library. A total of 262 gravestones were recorded in the main area and the two extensions, and a considerable number of the inscriptions were found to be wholly or partially legible. Apart from the Skelmorlie Aisle, qv, there is also a small mausoleum for the Brisbane family and a memorial for the Boyles on a fragment of the old church wall. Although the paths and grass areas are kept neat, many of the stones have collapsed or are now covered with vegetation. However, they seem to be relatively free from the effects of vandalism. From the Old Parish Register (OPR 602/1) with a date range of 1723 - 1770, and from a book kept by the three members of the Jamieson family (the so-called Sexton’s Book), who were the gravediggers from 1823 - 1870, the Largs contribution to the National Burial Index has been prepared, and is near publication. From this work it has been possible to estimate that a total of over 3500 burials took place within this relatively small graveyard over the two time periods studied. No records have been found for the intervening 53 years, but a very conservative. estimate indicates about a further 1500 burials. The space required for those would explain why the graveyard is level, while the ground outside its wall falls naturally to the southeast, causing the difference in level at the entrance gateway. When the manse was demolished in 1900, human remains were discovered beneath its foundations, suggesting that before the 17" Century the graveyard was somewhat larger. The graveyard was closed in 1867. The new cemetery adjoining the Haylie Brae had been receiving some internments for about eight years prior to this. (From http://www.ayrshireroots.co.uk)
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Largs Skelmorlie Aisle Burial Site, Created by cierragunn, Largs, North Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom