My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Autumn Road-Trip 3: Rafford Cemetery

Suzy_Bugs suggested visiting Rafford on our road-trip; I think she spent some of her childhood in the area, and was keen to get us to visit this old cemetery. The cemetery itself is in what seems to be an odd location; off two main roads and away from the church. I think this is because the cemetery pre-dates the church, and while there is a small building in the centre which I think was the grave-keeper's cottage, there's no visible sign of where the church used to be. I will cover the new church in my next post. The whole place is quite low, in a bit of a valley, surrounded by wooded hills and a small village. 

Photograph by HouseCat

The photograph above is what I presume was the grave-keeper's cottage. I had a peek in the windows and open door, and it looks like it is now home to things like planters, but was once where someone lived or worked. Either way, it is fairly empty now, mostly home to lots and lots of spiders. It still has its windows, and it still has its roof, so it has managed to remain a little outbuilding quite well. 

Photograph by HouseCat

The photographs to the left, above and below are of a large mausoleum that dwarfs most of the surrounding grave monuments. The mausoleum has no roof, but does have several plaques inside, mostly over grown by ivy and brambles, so  I could not read which family are interred there. At the back I presume there had once been a plaque naming the family and which members were buried there, but that had fallen away. There were still plaques on other walls, though. The walls of the mausoleum are surprisingly thick, and I do wonder if it was initially designed to have a roof, or whether the family who had it built just wanted a sturdy monument. 


It was late afternoon and quite a bright day, so the shadows were quite strong, and everything getting slightly golden as evening approached. I think it was a rather good time for photographing. Some of the photographs I took later on were perhaps a bit too late in the day, but I think I had it just right for here, Rafford Church and the earlier photographs for Pluscarden Abbey (later in the road-trip). I think there is a window of time in the late afternoon, if the weather is suitable, that is really good for architectural photographs, because there's enough shadow to get defined planes and faces of walls and roofs (especially if there is detail and subtle angles) but it's neither dazzlingly bright, nor too dingy. 


Photograph by HouseCat

Suzy_Bugs told me that both this cemetery and the one by the abandoned chapel visited earlier have graves far more recent than the last use of their associated church or chapel because there is some rule or law that says that if a graveyard stops being used for new burials for long enough, that it can be developed over or somesuch. I'm not sure if this is exactly right, but it does pose an interesting question about how long human remains and graveyards should be left untouched in respect to those who are buried there. Personally, I would be in favour of never building over them (especially as it seems in recent years that we expand our cities and towns too much), but sometime land is unknown to be the last resting place of people because it has been disused as a cemetery for centuries or even millennia. There are a lot more factors in this debate than I can fit into a small paragraph, but it is something I'd like to hear my reader's thoughts on. 

10 comments:

  1. definitely looks/sounds like a place to put on the 'when im close to that area i have to visit...'-list <3 thanks for sharing this with us!

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    1. It's a small cemetery off the usual tourist routes, so it's quiet and peaceful. I like visiting old graveyards; they're often such nice places with flowers and birds and green.

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  2. These photos are so pretty! It looks like it would be a lovely place to read.

    I've heard a few times in the news of building sites where they uncover old graveyards. I'm always surprised that people would build over something like that instead of trying to move the bodies first. I guess it's because they're so old the builders figure no surviving family would care, but if it were my relatives I'd want them left alone - even if I didn't know anything about them! I think the future of burials will change, maybe we'll all have to be cremated in order to make space (because plots are expensive and coffins are rather large).

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    1. To go with my last comment, I also wonder if cemeteries themselves will change entirely. Like if maybe all the bodies will be disinterred and moved inside a building. It seems with areas that have limited space the option is always to build up instead of out, and maybe in a few hundred years that might be our solution; big sky scraper cemeteries.

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    2. I know that sometimes when remains are disinterred, they end up stored in the crypts of churches, or moved to family mausoleums if the relatives can be traced, or sometimes reinterred in a different graveyard. It was quite common in Victorian times for cemeteries to run out of space, and when they couldn't just expand it into a neighbouring field, sometimes they would stack family members vertically above each other, and sometimes they would move remains to church crypts and ossuaries. There are even elaborate cemeteries underground in catacombs, etc. Even earlier, in the times of the Black Death, they just dug massive plague-puts and tossed all the bodies in together O.O

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    3. Cremation is currently quite popular as it is cheaper both in terms of not buying a coffin and memorial, and in terms of not buying a burial plot. There are memorial gardens where people's ashes get scattered and people put a memorial up, and there are other places where there are walls with recesses in which urns get put and a stone plaque is put across the front, and there are people who want to be scattered where the currents meet, or into the wind, or off a favourite landmark, etc. I don't want to be cremated - I want to be buried in an eco-pod that grows into a tree, and I'd like a memorial for me to be placed somewhere, too, one of the pointed-arch slabs with the pretty Gothic-style details and fancy carving, but those are expensive, and it seems weird to save up for your own headstone! (Even if you're a bundle of Gothic cliches like I am!)

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    4. The graveyard has to be unused for 100 years before the land can be sold off and built on. It's nice to see one of my favourite places through someone else's eyes.

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    5. I guess that's why there's recent graves in a cemetery from a church left empty from 1953 at Ardclach, so that instead of it being 2053 when it could be built on, it's at least 2103! (I think I saw a 2003 grave there.)

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  3. I was intrigued by your desire to be buried in an eco-pod as I've had similar thoughts. My point of contention is having my lifeless body filled with toxic chemicals and then placed in the ground. I have supported good environmental practices all of my life and am loath to think that my burial could involve just the opposite.

    Only a week or two ago I found something that does come close to your idea; it does involve cremation however. Still, a person's ashes are put into a biodegradable urn, which in turn, contains the seed of and nutrition for a tree. You get to pick which type of tree you want to be. For me, that option has a certain appeal. I believe that an European company now offers this amenity.

    As for building over cemeteries, I'm really not in favor of it. If nothing else, the continuing existence of burial grounds serves to not only remind us of our own mortality, but also helps to maintain the perspective that there are those who came before us, and that we are reaping the benefits of the world they helped create.

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    1. If the Capsula Mundi project gets finalised: http://www.capsulamundi.it/progetto_eng.html then that would be an option I would be interested in, but I would also like a proper headstone or memorial marker somewhere, because I love gravestones; they're often so beautifully carved, and as inanimate stone, retain the memento mori properties that a living tree may not.

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