26 February 2014
Eleanor Young of Logie Old Graveyard Group charts the history of an ancient kirk and kirkyard in the Ochil Hills which have been restored to their former splendour. ...
The Old Kirk at Logie is a hidden gem, nestling in a peaceful spot below Dumyat at the western end of the Ochil Hills. Originally dedicated to St Serf, 12th century records name Ysaac Michael as 'clerk parson' in 1178. While early records are sketchy, post-Reformation Presbytery minutes illuminate the later history of the church, which was built about 1598 on the footprint of an earlier building.
In 1669, a petty dispute about a seat escalated and the Presbytery was called to adjudicate. Intolerant of such trivial matters, the Presbytery removed the seat and, finding the building to be 'very ruinous', instructed the heritors to 'repair the kirk and kirkyard dykes' as a matter of more pressing importance. Tobias Bachop of Alloa was appointed to oversee the work, which included the construction of internal lofts to seat parish tenants and tradesmen. The project, completed in 1684, was marked by a sundial set high on the west gable.
Through the troubled years of the Covenant and the Disruption, Presbytery minutes record interesting parish anecdotes until, in 1801, it was reported that Logie was once again in poor condition: 'the roof insufficient both in wood and slates' and 'loft doors and windows all in a very bad state’.
Local heritor Sir Robert Abercromby offered land to build a new church, reusing the stone materials of the old. To maintain the presence of the Old Kirk however, the west gable and a section of the south wall were retained, for which Sir Robert paid the builder £3/10s compensation for loss of building material. The Old Kirk at Logie became a ruin and the congregation moved south to their new church in 1805.
Within the graveyard of the Old Kirk, the oldest inscribed date – 1598 – can be found in a row of plain flat stones which otherwise bear only initials, although two 11th-century Norse hogback stones are reminders of its earlier history.
During the 17th century the erection of gravestones became more common and carved mortality symbols including hourglasses, skulls and crossed bones appeared along with trade symbols, which reveal snippets about the life and work of the people of the villages of Pathfoot and Logie.
In this rural area, home industries were common and the farmer’s coulter, weaver’s shuttle and cobbler’s knife feature on over 100 stones.
The most beautiful of these is undoubtedly that in memory of Margaret Clasone (pictured right), 'spouse of James Bryce', a shoemaker and tanner from the village of Pathfoot. Dated 1717, the detail includes a Bible open at the text, 'Blessed are the pure in heart.'
The move to the new church and graveyard in 1805 helped retain the character of the Old Kirkyard, with only a few large Victorian monuments having been erected on the site. The Graham family, with its long historical connection to Logie, is honoured by beautifully sculpted wall plaques on the west gable of the ruin.
The restoration project
Over years the Old Kirkyard became sadly neglected, and untended plant overgrowth obscured many of the historic stones and ivy seriously threatened the stability of the ruin. In 2007, with the support of Stirling Council, funding from Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER, as well as other donations from groups and individuals, Logie Old Graveyard Group (Logieogg) began their conservation project.
Enthusiastic volunteers worked to cut back overgrowth and major structural repairs were completed on the ruin. A small interpretive centre was created in the 18th-century watch hut, where records of the gravestones can be studied. From 2014, the site at Logie will form part of the Ochils Landscape Partnership's Kirkyards Trail, which encompasses seven historic graveyards in the Hillfoots area of Clackmannanshire.
Find out more
Logie Kirk and Kirkyard have been returned to pristine condition and members of Logieogg are always pleased to welcome visitors. Tours of the site are available between 2pm and 5pm on Sunday afternoons during July and August and at other times by appointment. More information can be found at the Logie Old Graveyard Group website.
(Images copyright Logie Old Graveyard Group)