Dunfermline YAC: Graveyard Dig 2016 – Cobblers!
This summer, Dunfermline YAC has been digging in the Dunfermline Abbey graveyard since July. Working at the graveyard has been a very interesting experience for me, even though patience occasionally runs thin, there’s never a boring moment with all the strange talks that sometimes take place. So far this year we have uncovered lots of gravestones, several bones, some bits of pottery and lots of rocks – annoyingly!
The shoemaker's stone
One of the most interesting stones that we found was probably the stone covered with drawings and no words, although there is a chunk missing from the middle of the stone. The remains of what we think was once writing is worn and unfortunately half of it has gone with the chunk.
The markings on the stone caused a lot of interest and discussion – both at home and in YAC.
We can see:
● Six flowers
● A horizontal pattern that we’ve nick named ‘Dog’s Teeth’?
● A tool for cutting leather
● Different sizes of ‘shoe lasts’ which are used to shape shoes
● The remains of writing which could possibly include a ‘Z’
We are guessing that this stone is from around about the 17th–18th century because at this time very few people could read, and so gravestones were decorated with the information in symbols instead.
We've created an interactive 3D image of the stone that you can view online!
This gravestone is most likely for a cobbler, shoemaker or ‘cordwainer’. I think the flowers are something to do with the Patron Saint of Shoemaking – St Crispin – as flowers similar to this can be found in many pictures representing him. These include vases, carvings and pictures.
I found the names of two named Dunfermline shoemakers of the time, John Jamieson, who died in 1765, and Alexander Aitken, who died 1772. You never know, one of them may be buried under our stone!!
Blog by Kathryn, Dunfermline YAC member