Members of Ardnamurchan Community Archaeology spent some time this morning continuing their recording of the gravestones in 13th century St Comghan's churchyard. This view looks towards the church from the northwest and shows how St Comghan, when he came here in the eighth century, chose a slight knoll with fine views all round for his original church.
A first survey of the site has now been completed. While the older part of the churchyard includes two very good MacIain grave slabs from the 15th century, most of the monuments date from the 19th century. A map showing the locations of all the grave stones is being created, and this will be accompanied by a database recording information about each.
Some of the inscriptions are very moving. While most are of local families, this one marks the grave of a John McRoberts. Because many of the stones are encrusted with lichens which, because this is a national historic monument, we cannot disturb, some of the writing is difficult to decipher. However, we're getting better at it, and....
....we now know that the full inscription reads, 'In memory of John McRoberts a native of Gatehouse who died at Ardnamurchan lighthouse works January XXVI (26th) MDCCCXLIV (1844)* aged LX years (60)'.
A number of the gravestones are covered with this lichen, which I have not noticed on the local rocks. I know nothing about lichens but have tentatively identified it as Lecanora chlarotera.
* My thanks to those who pointed out that I mis-translated the date as 1894.
The lighthouse was completed in 1849, but I don't know when the work was started: perhaps 1844?