‘Grave Encounters’ Event Allows You To Explore Kells Churchyard, In New Galloway

11-3pm on 13th August, at Kells Churchyard

Join the ‘Can You Dig It’ community archaeology crew as they hunt out some of the carvings that were such a common feature on gravestones 300-years ago, and learn how to these are recorded using photogrammetry. The day will include local experts and enthusiasts, sharing what they think the gravestones are telling us…

‘Can You Dig It’ is a project supported through the Galloway Glens Scheme, jointly funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic Environment Scotland. The project seeks to explore and better understand the amazing heritage of Galloway, while also building capacity and skills locally to allow this understanding and engagement to continue after the project is complete.

The ’Grave Encounters’ day is a relaxed event in one of our most intriguing churchyards – Kells Church in New Galloway. Preparation for this event has benefitted from the input of a whole range of volunteers, with exploration work undertaken already of more than 30 of the churchyard inscriptions. Many of these volunteers will be present on the day, offering their thoughts on the headstones, showing how much history there is in these graveyards.

Volunteers working on the inscriptions beforehand have come from as far afield as Ayrshire, Bristol, Canada and New Zealand!

The ‘Grave Encounters’ event would suit all ages, with lots of weird and wonderful carvings for everyone to hunt out. Visitors are invited to join us for all or a portion of the day, however much suits, and to learn more about one of our most captivating graveyards. No need to book, just pop by.

Claire Williamson from the ‘Can You Dig It’ project will be overseeing activities on the day.

Claire said:

“The results revealed stories of local ministers; teachers; war casualties from the Crimean War, WWI and WWII (including a female nurse from WWI); people that had moved across to Canada (including a war correspondent with an OBE) and New Zealand; local gentry with links to Kenmure Castle; links with Manchester mills and a number of local people who lived and worked in the surrounding area over the last 300 years to make it what it is today. There are also a couple of tales of disasters linked to some of the memorials.

The results are all going to be compiled into a large report which will be shared with local societies and also put up on the Galloway Glens website to make them available for everyone.

Spending an afternoon in a graveyard might not have been your first thought on how to spend a Saturday, but these sites are actually little heritage gems! Alongside all kinds of intricate carvings hidden in every corner, these inscriptions represent individuals from the last 300 years of Galloway’s history – a period which has seen war, growing industry and major changes in our social and religious views. Come and listen to some of the volunteers from our Grave Encounters project share their stories, and find out why your local graveyard is always worth a visit.”

Jan Hogarth, Galloway Glens Education & Community Engagement Officer will also be there on the day, adding:

“Isn’t it fascinating to explore these old graveyards and imagine what characters are buried there? As you look at the carvings, descriptions and where people lived, you really get a sense of the past and the dynamic of the communities who lived in the parish. It is like travelling back in time in your imagination. The Kells Graveyard project run by our Can You Dig It team is a research project where volunteers with a passion for history researched the gravestones and the people lives they commemorate. Join us at Kells Graveyard for what will be a fascinating sharing of researchers’ findings and the stories behind the stones and the community of the past”.

The Galloway Glens Scheme seeks to ‘connect people to their heritage’ while boosting the local economy and supporting sustainable communities. It is an initiative of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team, primarily funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and supported by a whole range of partners including the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.