Stories from the Islands

Kirkhouse Kirkyard

Written by Bernie Bell

New Year’s Eve we drove from a snow-free Rendall Parish, to a snowy Kirkhouse/Pool of Cletts, South Ronaldsay, as we did two years ago.

After a walk along the beach, with a beautiful light in the sky and the sea, we wandered around in the kirkyard which has headstones which tell the stories of families in the area and noticed some names which have now gone out of fashion, such as Isabella – a very fashionable name at one time. One headstone named a woman called Michael and I wondered if maybe in the past that was one of those names which was accepted as being either male or female, such as Leslie?  So when we got home I googled it and found this.

There is history on a wider scale, with the headstone of two Finnish sailors who perished in the loss of the steamship Johanna Thorden in 1937.

Dating from the First World War, the grave of a young man who was stationed at the Hoxa Battery. Someone still remembers him – recently placing a Poppy cross.

An older grave slab has a skull and crossbones, dating from when grave markers were laid down rather than standing up.  I couldn’t read the date as time and weather have taken their toll…

A stone which forms part of the top of the kirkyard wall presents a miniature landscape.

Then we drove to Glimps Holm … and parked by the 3rd Churchill Barrier to watch the sunset on the last day of 2022.

Not a bad way to see out the old year – and hoping that this year will be better than the last few years have been! 

This article first appeared in Bernie’s blog.

About the author

Bernie Bell

Bernie Bell lives in Orkney, is interested in everything – wonders about many things – is confused by many things. “It makes life interesting – or should I say even more interesting.”