A day of burial grounds today. Dropped the kids off, and got lost in the labyrinth that is Chapelton. Anyone who knows Chapelton will think that’s ridiculous – it’s a toattie wee place. Well, the toattie wee place has signposts that lead nowhere. You lie, Chapelton signs, you lie.

Once we escaped, we aimed for Glassford to have a wander around the old kirkyard. It was a miserable looking day, completely grey, but the air was fresh, the birds were singing and the overhead cables were humming happily to themselves.

It’s a nice little kirkyard with a single wall of the church remaining. It’s also part of the Covenanter’s Trail, with a rather gaudy  monument dedicated to William Gordon of Earlston. He was apparently on his way to the Battle of Bothwell Bridge when he was captured and shot by dragoons on 22nd June 1879.

Just beyond the wall of the kirkyard is a track leading down the hill towards Braehead Farm. About halfway down, there’s a  line of trees that leads to the private burial ground of Avonholm. There’s three stones there which were once thought to be standing stones, but are now thought to be grave markers. There’s a street in Strathaven called Threestanes Road. I rememebr reading somewhere that it was supposedly part of an ancient road that lead to the standing stones, but on the map the road is pointing in totally the wrong direction. Nice idea, but I doubt it.

We left Avonholm for another day and headed back to Strathaven for lunch, watching the old railway line running alongside us the whole way, only interrupted by lost bridges and viaducts. A story for another day.

Great lunch at the Old Smiddy in Strathaven, then headed for Stonehouse kirkyard. On Manse Road we passed a   Scottish Rights of Way sign for the Horse Pool on the Avon Water, along with the legend that it was named after a drowned horse, or less romantically, the horseshoe shape. It was too wet to walk over to the pool but we did learn that it’s a great place to look for fossils.

At the top of the hill is Stonehouse old kirkyard: another ruined church, with belltower intact this time. I had an inkling that there was a Covenanter buried here too, but couldn’t see it, probably because I was trying to figure out the lie of the land, checking the view back across to Glassford, and taking pictures of the headstone carvings.

At home I checked up on the Covenanter connection and was disgusted that I’d missed the Bloodstone, marking the burial of James Thomson of Tanhill, who died of wounds gained at the Battle of Drumclog in 1679. The legend says that if you insert your finger in the mouth on the carved skull, it will be bloody when you pull it out. Why anyone would be insane enough to try this and risk horrendous nightmares is beyond me, but a number have, and discovered red ochre dust on their finger.

And then, hunting about online for further information, I was delighted to discover a Quaker burial ground on Geograph that I’d never known about.

So, two kirkyards, one burial ground, a couple of legends and a whole load of history: not a bad day.