Back in 2005, while my husband, brother and I were traveling around the lowlands of Scotland, we stayed a day or two in Fenwick, Scotland near the town of Kilmarnock. A large portion of the trip was spent looking for anything Gemmell--not in my surname line, but belonging to a friend of my brother.
The second day of our stay in a wonderful B and B in Fenwick (pronounced Fenick), I saw a pamphlet in the lounge area for the Fenwick Old Parish Kirk. AND, a Gemmell was buried there. Suddenly, we were all in the rental car and heading for Low Fenwick and the Kirk. As I remember, it was a dark and dreary afternoon--the perfect setting for a wander in an old cemetery.
What an exciting find this turned out to be. Firstly, I had either forgotten or never knew about the history of the Scottish Covenanters and shame on me as a life long Presbyterian! The kirkyard was full of them....8 to be exact, which is more than in any other Scottish burial ground. I found a useful site called Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association, which defined convenanter, "Simply stated, the Covenanters were those people in Scotland who signed the National Covenant in 1638. They signed this Covenant to confirm their opposition to the interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland."
Second, I don't know what I was thinking....maybe my mind was washed out by the rain....but I only photographed the one tombstone we were in search of...again, shame on me!
Finally, had I been able to do a little research on the Old Parish Kirk, I would have known ahead of time that the church faces east/west and is an odd angle within its boundary. The kirk was built in 1643 in the shape of a Greek cross. Note the guard posts at the gates that were built so that families could protect their dead from the resurrectionists.
The Peter Gemmell tombstone reads:
‘This man, like holy anchorites of old,
For conscience sake was thrust from house and hold;
Bloodthirsty red-coats cut his prayers short,
And even his dying groans were made their sport.
Ah, Scotland! breach of solemn vow repent,
Or bloody crimes will bring thy punishment.’"
Electric Scotland on line has Ramble Round Kilmarnock, by Archibald R. Adamson. There are two excellent chapters on the Fenwick Old Parish Kirk, Chapter VII and Chapter VIII.
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