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, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. 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.

Goth 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, the expression of that in Goth rock. It 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 (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, 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. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Great Gothic Graveyard Walk

Originally, quite a few of us were going to go on the graveyard walk, but in the end - especially with it being the day after the Rapture rock night (29th October) and people being rather hung-over - it ended up with only a small group of us going. I've been on antibiotics due to getting all infected in my sinuses and then my chest after having had the flu (it's a recurring issue because my sinuses don't drain properly), so I wasn't drinking the night before, and I don't drink much anyway. 

This is the unicorn statue in Falcon Square

This was Inverness based, and as I had organised and was leading it, I had to get their nice and early. Raven was at work, and I'm medically not allowed to drive, so this meant a bus journey. My friend Ducky was staying at ours, so he came with me. We met up in Falcon Square, which is pretty much Inverness' city centre, and I stood under the statue of a unicorn, my bright green hair hopefully a beacon to make us visible from afar.

The first stop was meant to be Chapel Yard cemetery, which is one I am quite fond of, but it was locked up over the Hallowe'en weekend (it's usually open during the daytime) - presumably to stop those revellers who get carried away from doing anything to desecrate it. After a spate of grave vandalisms in the city, this was probably a wise decision. 

Detail of Leakey's interior
We decided to move on and go to Leakey's instead. ::Leakey's:: is a used book shop, but it's in a repurposed chapel, and it's amazing. It's internationally famous, and is one of the best book-shops I have been into. You can find books on pretty much everything. I bought a book by Raymond Buckland on how to communicate with spirits. We had a lot of fun rummaging through various sections - there were so many books that I wanted, but I could only afford to get one book, so picking one was quite hard. They also sell prints, including one I saw of a mausoleum (roofless, a specific Gaelic type) that is in the Old High Church graveyard, but I couldn't afford it, although I was quite tempted. It's my favourite shop in Inverness, and it's easy to while away the hours in there. 

The inside is like something from Harry Potter! 
I thoroughly recommend Leakey's to anybody interested in old books or old buildings, especially if they love both. There are a lot of fabulous details of the building remaining from its time as a church, including the original stained glass windows, pulpit, and galleries - as well as a big log-burner in the middle of it all! Yes, a book shop heated with fire! The pipe reaching up through the ceiling in the above picture is the chimney. I love standing by the fire and warming my hands, especially in the chill of the colder months in the Highlands. 

One of the stained glass windows in Leakey's. Yes, I still like windows.

After visiting Leakey's, we went to the neighbouring Old High Church graveyard. The Old High Church graveyard is one that I've visited numerous times, and is one of my favourites in Inverness, probably because it's usually quite quiet and has a nice view over the river. Thankfully this graveyard was open, and we had a look around. 

Left to right: Ducky, myself, Sean, Lyn, D. J. A.
Ducky borrowing my cane to look fabulous until I'd need it on the way back

We also took a group photo - as you can see, a small turn out. Missing is Lyn's partner, who is taking the photo. Note how dressing for the Scottish autumn ought to take precedence - I am grateful that all those layers of velvet were actually rather warm; I should have worn my coat.  

A. & D. amongst tombstones.

Lyn, the lady with the red hair, used to be a volunteer with the Culloden Battlefield visitor's centre, so she told us about the history of the graveyard in relation to the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden and the execution of Jacobite prisoners. I've written about that before ::here::. It's a sad and sombre part of history, very dark for what now seems like a charming and peaceful graveyard - not somewhere to be associated with a mass execution. It seems a bit weird photographing where they shot people, so I didn't take a picture of that part of the graveyard. 

Blackfriar's Graveyard

We then tried to visit Blackfriar's graveyard which is down a side-street and beneath the British Telecom building, literally! As it is an archaeological site there's a 'bridge' over it connecting the two main portions of the B.T. building. The site has the remains of an ancient Dominican Friary, really only one column standing - as well as a more recent, but still centuries old graveyard. It was also locked, however, so I just took some photographs through the gate. I've been in there when it's open, however, and shall have to post better photographs on this blog and also at ::Architecturally Gothic::.

Balnain House

After we tried to visit the Blackfriar's graveyard, we walked across the foot-bridge to Balnain House, the front courtyard of which is above the mass graves for the prisoners executed at the Old High Church, as Balnain House was at the time used as a hospital for the Hanoverian troops. It's a sombre place, and I am surprised no latter monument has been erected to those buried there. If it hadn't been for Lyn telling us, I'm not sure I'd have known about that at all. I've lived here 5 years, and I'm still learning so much about this (relatively small!) city. 

Walking beside the canal

After that we headed along the canal (a beautiful walk in itself) to Inverness' closest thing to a necropolis - the sprawling Tomnahurich cemetery that winds its way up to a war memorial at the top of a small but steep hill. It's in the suburbs of Inverness, rather than its centre, but not quite at the city's edge - however it has some very beautiful views, and is something of a park as well as a place to bury the dead. Some of it is wooded, and it's a very beautiful place. It has a lot of Victorian monuments, many of which are rather ornate. It also has large areas of more modern grave-stones - in general a bit plainer than their historic neighbours.
Looking out over more recent graves from the hill.

We walked all the way up the central hill, which is quite steep in places (my knees and ankles are weak from old injuries and ached quite a bit - I'd lent my cane to Ducky for aesthetic purposes, but on the way back I needed it back for practical reasons!). The view is beautiful, and the monuments at the top, including the war memorial, are quite splendid. There weren't any the day we visited, but if you go there when it's very quiet, there are often hedgehogs and red squirrels, too.

Finial type monument between stone graves

One thing that is unusual in Tomnahurich are the cast-iron monuments. Most of them are in the form of a traditional Victorian Gothic-Revival headstone, but cast as an iron frame with an inner plaque, often a stone plaque. These are often the graves of people who worked at the foundry and ironworks in the city, and I wonder if they're the graves of those who died in industrial accidents, or perhaps those who had died after many years working at the ironworks. One curious iron monument is one that I spotted that appeared to be an architectural finial used as a monument, mounted on a small stone. Similar finials top the gables of the finer Victorian houses and buildings across the city, and I wonder if the monument was either cast from the same mould, or was initially made as a finial, and then used as a monument.

We spent quite some time walking around Tomnahurich, examining the monuments, pondering about what the symbolism meant in regard to those buried, and admiring the fine stonework - the monumental masons of Invernes were evidently quite skilled! I tried to take more photographs, but I was loosing the light, and I will have to return in summer, or earlier in the day.

We had a fun, if rather long walk around the various graveyards and cemeteries of Inverness - or at least those that were accessible. We had planned to go further North to the graves of the patients of Craig Dunain (a Victorian 'lunatic asylum', which I have written about ::here::) but it was getting too dark, and late enough in the evening for busses to be infrequent, so we headed back after Tomnahurich. It was very nice to catch up with friends, even if not as many folk turned out as could have, and a good walk around Inverness, too!


  1. An exiting walk indeed, lovely photos to go with.

    1. Photos aren't my best; I need to practice dingy weather photography.

  2. Looks like it was a decent turnout in the end :)

    How far along the canal is the Tomnahurich cemetery?
    I've been along the canal before with a few mates some years ago on a spontaneous meander, but we didn't walk all the way along as we had to mind the time with regards to getting train home.

    1. That depends on where you're starting! It's probably just under 1km from the Bught Park/Whin Park/Ice Centre/Aquadome sort of area. It's on one of the service 8 bus routes. It's probably 3km from PC World/Aldi/Co-Op supermarket end. Check on Google Maps or similar as I'm not the best at estimates.

    2. It was from Whin Park, perhaps we went past it without spotting it?
      We got as far as a spot that's popular with campers/drinkers I think, as there were a lot of trees with carved messages on them.

    3. It's not obvious from the canal, as it's mostly obscured by trees. It's within 100m of the swing bridge, up the wooded hill.

  3. one thing's for sure: You have lots of interesting places to visit in your area--and they're so old! It's somewhat surprising to me that in such an environment there aren't many more goths living there than there actually are. The Scottish Highlands should be a Mecca for people like us.

    It's interesting that you just posted this, because I am supposed to be leading a historic ghost tour in my community early next month. While this area is not nearly as old, or should I say ancient, as yours, we nevertheless have an interesting history and some alleged supernatural occurrences associated. One such occurrence affected me directly. It should be fun.

    1. There's not many Goths because there's just not many people - I do come across Goth tourists here sometimes, visiting probably for those exact reasons (and I tend to take on the role of tour-guide, lol!).

      Clava Cairns and the local standing stones are literally millennia old. It makes me feel very young and insignificant when I visit them... Makes a change from feeling positively elderly when I'm around the teenage Goths and babybats!

      I really want to go on some ghost tours. Several people have suggested I /lead/ one because I'm fairly into both the paranormal AND local history, but I feel like I am not knowledgeable enough, and there are others locally who could do much better.

  4. It looks like a really interesting day going through the local cemeteries. I love the quirky book shop, I really like when people find new and interesting way of using disused churches for the community.

    1. From what I gather due to the tendency for certain branches of the church to schism, and then reunite later, and as some groups have diminished or dwindled entirely, and then new groups form, there's quite a few older chapels that have been converted into other things - I like it best when it's a new community facility, too - and also the inverse; buildings never intended as churches being repurposed into them. Apparently Inverness has a new church in what, when I had last been there, was the Nepalese all-you-can-eat buffet!

  5. I liked the pictures and the walk looked really interesting. If possible, I would love to join you should you have another one. I'd like to experiment with a bit of photography myself

    1. I think I know who you are I.R.L, if so, I'm sure that's possible and I'll tell you about the plans for the next one either next time we meet or on Facebook. I'd like to do a 'Spooky Snow Social' - basically, a winter version of this, but it depends on a whole heap of variables.

    2. You indeed know who I am, I did suggest to yourself and Dave not long ago about meeting up but you were unfortunately Ill at the time and so I had left it but then got caught up in work. If you do plan another trip sometime that may require a bus, I don't mind providing a lift to some if that helps at all

    3. Ah, tell you something funny, with the name 'Sickly Sweet' I thought you were a certain lassie fond of making cakes. Yep, I know exactly which spookyperson I am now talking to, and will definitely message you on FB. The antibiotics, etc. worked, and I'm over the chest infection. Last time we met was probably actually at the Hallowe'en rock night, but I was ill still and just leaving, so we met in passing.

  6. I love the Tomnahurich Cemetery. I use to go walking there with my dad a lot as a kid. There use to be pheasants too. The whole place is locally known as the Fairy Hill because they build an iron fence round it and fairies can't fly across iron.

    Eilidh :)

    1. I think the iron fence is supposed to be there to keep the fairies in.

      There's a legend I've heard that there was a musician (I've heard he was a piper, and that he was a fiddler), and he was a travelling musician. He was walking along Glenurquhart road one evening when he was stopped by a wealthy and beautiful woman who asked him if he'd play at her father's feast for a bag of gold coins. The musician agreed, and she walked him up to the top of the hill (in one version there's a door /into/ the hill), and he spends the night at the party. It turns out she's a fairy, and her father is fairy-lord. The musician spends seven hours on the hill, but when he comes back down in the morning, everything has changed because it's been seven years in the regular world. In one version of the story, he goes into the Old High Church to check the date, but dies as soon as he crosses the threshold because he'd eaten fairy-food at the feast and thus inadvertently tied his soul to the fairy-world (or something; I didn't understand why eating fairy food would make you die from church).

    2. Just had another thought! Perhaps the cast-iron grave markers are related to the folk-beliefs around fairies?


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