Vanishing gravestone inscriptions

I’ve just been looking through the Borders Family History Society‘s gravestone listings for Melrose Weirhill cemetery. I know my Dodds great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents were buried there. I recorded the inscriptions years ago. But looking through the published list, although my relatives are listed, the inscription for the older stone is very incomplete. It just says:

Erected in loving memory of ALEXANDER BURNETT DODDS who died —–Gate 24th Sept 18— aged 55 yrs and his wife CATHERINE —- died 25th July ——-yrs died 7th — CATH—-died 2—–died 19—El1—died JE—–MAY died (Centre of stone illegible)

That is so sad to see. The inscription when I recorded it two decades ago was massive, commemorating many people.

ERECTED
IN LOVING MEMORY
OF ALEXANDER BURNETT DODDS
WHO DIED AT ABBEY GATE
24TH SEPT 1895 AGED 55 YEARS
AND HIS BELOVED WIFE
CATHERINE IRVINE
DIED 25TH JULY 1917 AGED 71 YEARS
ALSO THEIR DAUGHTERS
AGNES GRAY
DIED 7TH MARCH 1923 AGED 33 YEARS
CATHERINE MARY HELEN
DIED 28TH JULY 1929, AGED 61 YEARS
JANE BURNETT
DIED 7TH DECR 1936, AGED 66 YEARS
MARGARET DODDS
DIED 19TH JANY 1940, AGED 64 YEARS
ELIZABETH IRVINE TROY
DIED 18TH JANUARY 1952
JESSIE DIED 8TH FEB 1966
MAY DARLING DIED 28TH MAY 1967
UNTIL THE DAY BREAK AND THE SHADOWS ELSE AWAY

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen inscriptions for my relatives missed from published books. The Borders Family History Society’s booklet for Morebattle, published some years ago now, missed out my Kerr great-grandparents, possibly because the stone – which I had seen, not too many years earlier – had fallen over by then, obscuring the inscription.

But the Dodds one, having been so detailed, is particularly sad to see vanish like this. It makes me tempted to want to buy a replacement stone, with the original inscription, though I’d need agreement from other members of the family for that. I don’t even know what the procedure is for a distant descendant to get a gravestone replaced. Luckily I do have the original burial lair certificates!

Of course genealogists researching families further back in time are used to vanishing gravestone inscriptions, especially from the 18th century and earlier as weathering takes its toll. But I’m particularly sad to see a mostly 20th century one go.

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About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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2 Responses to Vanishing gravestone inscriptions

  1. Angus Lowrie says:

    Hi Viv, I have looked at the Dodds gravestone a couple of times and will go to it again soon. I wonder if it would be possible to get it set back upright and set a plaque beside it or fixed on the rear of it inscribed in suitable font with all the correct details. Some sort of modern but old style board and written with some modern computer driven laser device. I don’t think there would be much interest from the family but you and I are for a start. It might not cost too much but I will try to find out how much putting the stone upright will cost for a start.

    • vivdunstan says:

      Thanks. Last time I was there I wondered about putting the stone upright again. I wouldn’t want to spend too much on this, but if it could be done without too much cost, and preferably get the inscription recorded on there, or nearby as you suggest, it would be nice.

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