Saturday, 30 October 2010

A Scottish Witch For Hallowe'en

Scotland has many sites associated with witchcraft the best known at Edinburgh Castle,scene of many executions and Dornoch,where Janet Horne was the last to be executed by burning in1722 or 1727

This atmospheric photo by Ian Philip of a memorial to Maggie Wall or Walls who allegedly was burnt here in 1657 in the parish of Dunning,Perthshire. However no record has survived about her and the trial, but the memorial is well cared for and the inscription

 Maggie Wall
 burnt here
 1657     as a Witch

is regularly maintained by anonymous visitors. It has been suggested the stone foundations are similar to the wooden fagots used for burning and the Christian cross and shaft an eerie representation of the unfortunate individual.

This short film on Youtube sets the scene to music
mr philip's photostream

Monday, 25 October 2010

Dunino Parish and Halloween

Last weekend I again visited Fife and explored  Dunino Parish which is only 5 by 3 miles in area and home to the remains of an old WW II airfield stationed by Polish airmen.Known as HMS Jackdaw II it was a branch of the larger HMS Jackdaw at Crail.

Both airfields were used for anti submarine patrols and planes from here took part in the attack on the Tirpitz.

Passing Dunino Law, the only hill of any consequence in the parish leads to the parish church and manse. This site has long been associated with worship.The current church stands on a site which originally was surrounded by a stone circle and within the graveyard there is a monolith. This standing stone has indistinct carvings,possibly Pictish and a much later sundial inscribed on the top.However the site of  modern coins left scattered on the stone is totally unexpected and a precursor of other incongruous objects deposited close to a Christian site of worship.

 Continuing through the graveyard a short walk through a blue gate leads to Dunino glen. Here a large rock promontory has a carved baptismal font and  a hollowed out footprint in the rock.These footprints were often the sites of ancient inauguration as found at Dunadd in Argyll.

From the rock a set of stone steps lead down into the glen and Kinaldy burn. Here there are mysterious Celtic carvings of uncertain date possibly depicting the Green Man and a 'Clooty well' were strips of clothing and other votive offerings are tied to the trees. It is an atmospheric place of mixed messages and yet clearly demonstrates the continual link between pagan and christian places of worship in Scotland. Not a place to visit on All Hallows Eve !

Dunino Parish District No:  425 
County. Fife
Old Parish Records.

Births:  1643-1690 

Marriages: 1643- 1689

Deaths:      1750-1854 (burials)

Kirk Session Records:

Minutes 1647–1805; 1848–1948

Collections and Disbursements 1805–1874

Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/405

Commissary Court  St Andrews 1596  and Edinburgh 1580

Sheriff Court  Cupar

Scottish DNA Project

The Scottish DNA Project now has an active blog at

The project is administered by the genealogy studies group at Strathclyde University.

An essential aid to all those with Scottish roots researching their genealogy and family history. The more that join the greater the benefit to us all

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ceres Parish and Fife Folk Museum

What a wonderful day spent exploring the Fife parish of Ceres. This small former Burgh of Barony has a recorded history back to 1314 when men from the village were archers for Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn and after the victory over the English they were granted two days holiday to celebrate. This tradition continues to the present day when the Ceres Highland Games are still held Many of the traditional pantiled cottages in the village were weavers homes.Linen and flax growing were an important industry with a corresponding growth in population recorded in the census returns. For anyone with ancestors from Fife a visit to the Fife Folk Museum is a must This wee gem of a museum run by volunteers has a wonderful collection of exhibits covering agricultural and domestic life in the 18th and 19th century. There is a fine display of Scottish weights and measures, agricultural equipment and traditional trades and crafts of masonry,joinery and thatching. For those who fell foul of the law a pair of 'jougs' are still found attached to the entrance to the old tron or weigh house.
The Parish of Ceres,7 miles by 4 miles is rich agricultural farm land and previously was a source of lime and coal. A network of footpaths once used by pilgrims bound for St Andrews cross the parish and a fine view of the surrounding area is gained from Hill of Tarvit. 

Ceres Parish   District No: 415
County.  Fife
Old Parish Records

Baptismal Register 1738–1806, 1808, 1836–37, 1858–1891

Session Minutes 1738–1748

Accounts 1738–1771, 1781–1863
Commissary Court .St Andrews  Earliest testament 1550
                              Edinburgh                               1580

Sheriff Court.    Cupar.

The 1841 census was lost in transit to Edinburgh.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Scottish Clan and Family DNA Projects- B


Following on from an earlier post for surnames starting with A, here is the B  list of Scottish surnames . I have checked the sites for activity and member numbers and they should all be functioning. There is a new Scottish Clan and Family DNA Project run by Strathclyde University.








































Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Melrose Abbey and Parish

Autumn is my favourite season in Scotland and shown as a backdrop to the golden field are the ruins of Melrose Abbey. Founded by King David I in 1136 it was to suffer on numerous occasions at the hands of invading English armies. It is also the reputed burial place of Robert the Bruce's heart. The Chronicle of Melrose Abbey is an important source for late 12th and 13th century Scottish history.

The Parish of Melrose is 7 miles long by 5-7miles broad and besides the town has several small villages. The Scottish Genealogy Society and the Border Family History Society have monumental inscriptions for the abbey and local graveyards. Interestingly the 1831 census for Melrose has survived in the kirk session records CH2/386/19.

Melrose Parish. District No: 799
County. Roxburghshire
OPR records:
Births: 1642-1723

Marriages: 1642-1723 

Deaths: 1669-1702 
            1734-1741, 1781-1854 
            1760, 1763-1781

Commissary Court.    Peebles CC18
Sheriff Court.             Jedburgh SC62

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Norman's Law, Dunbog Parish

The view from Norman's Law,Fife towards the 'Silvery Tay', the Tay Rail Bridge and Dundee. Situated near to Newburgh,it has always been a sparsely populated parish taking it's name from Dunbog Hill the original name for Norman's Law. The Gaelic placename for fort or hill of the bog appropriately describes the remains of an Iron Age fort on the summit surrounded by bog before the 19th century drainage and agricultural improvements. A pleasant walk from Luthrie follows an old road used by the monks of Balmerino Abbey passes many interesting old farm steadings and old do'cots with views towards the Lomond Hills and Largo Law .The parish is only 4 miles long by 1.5 miles at it's widest.

Dunbog District No:423
County Fife

OPR records:

Births: 1695-1698, 1705-1855 

Marriages: 1705-1854

Deaths: 1823-1853 (burials)

Commissariot.  St Andrews and Edinburgh
Earliest Testaments.  1549 and 1596
Sherrif Court. Cupar SC 20

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Genealogy Vacation

Well finally received confirmation I have passed the Post Graduate Diploma in Genealogy from Strathclyde University. It has been an eventful year completing this,the Post Graduate Certificate from Dundee University and the MA(Hons) from Aberdeen University. Only a short period to take it all in,have a celebratory drink,have a few free evenings with my family and then start the MSc at Strathclyde at the end of the month. I think I can see a chink of light at the end of the tunnel !