Take a memorable trip to see this beautiful and atmospheric historic graveyard just outside Brora village centre. Now replaced by the more modern cemetery at Ardachu in 1893, Clynekirkton served the parish of Clyne as its church and burial place for over a thousand years. The last burial was in 1965 and it is now closed for further interments.
With the village of Brora only established in the early 19th century, Clynekirkton, situated around 2 miles to the north of the village, was at the heart of the community from time immemorial. Two Pictish stones, dating from around the 8th century were found in the graveyard in the mid-19th century, indicating its importance as a place of burial and religious significance. The slabs were removed to the fascinating museum at Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie.
Today, you can see the rectangular church ruin, with its 1775 datestone on the south-facing part of the east gable. It once accommodated a congregation of a thousand worshippers but was replaced by a new church in Brora in 1907. Home to a variety of wildlife and beautiful spring snowdrops, primulas and daffodils, the tranquil graveyard displays many attractive tombstones, all with a story to tell, largely from the 19th century, although the oldest dates to 1720. There are three tablestones with skull-and-crossbone carvings – often mistaken by children as the graves of pirates, but are mere mortality symbols!
The piece de resistance of the graveyard is the flatstone with the mysterious French inscription, commemorating the death of John MacKay in 1779. No-one knows why his inscription has been beautifully carved in a foreign language. There is some speculation that he may have been married to a French woman who insisted his inscription was carved in French. As far as it is known, this is the only French-inscribed gravestone in Scotland, making Clynekirkton not just beautiful but unique!
Photo credit: Clyne Heritage Society