Jul 8 2009 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Wednesday
RESTORATION work to breathe new life into Stirling’s Old Town cemeteries has been completed and officially opened this week by Stirling Provost Fergus Wood.
Stirling Council’s £1.7 million contract is a unique piece of Scottish landscape dating back to the 16th century.
The council hopes the restoration work will benefit the local community and visitors to the City of Stirling.
Stirling Council’s portfolio holder for the environment Jim Thomson said: “Stirling’s Old Town cemeteries bridge both the pre and post-reformation periods in Scotland and, interestingly, the gardens were not laid out solely as burial grounds but also as a pleasure garden for local people.
“It is important therefore that we sympathetically restore the heritage elements of Stirling’s Old Town cemeteries.”
The project received funding of £824,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £430,226 from Stirling Council, £376,126 from Historic Scotland, and £18,183 for a specific piece of work to Pithy Mary Pond from Scottish Natural Heritage.
Commenting from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is supporting the project with a £824,000 grant, senior Grants Officer, Luke Fisher, said: “We are delighted that the transformation of this historic landscape has been completed. It is a project, which will not only offer visitors a unique record of Stirling's history but will creatively involve the local community in the heritage on their doorstep.”
Barbara Irwin, senior project manager said: “Turner & Townsend was delighted to be involved as project managers on what is a unique project that reflects Scotland's rich and colourful history.”
Restoration work at Stirling’s historic Old Town cemeteries began in August 2008 and was completed on time.
This included restoration of the physical infrastructure of the cemetery to bring it back to the original style of the Victorian landscaped plan, restoration of stone work/ironwork and hard/soft landscaping.
It also developed the cemetery interpretation project including still photographs, a series of documentary films on the restoration of the cemetery itself and further short historical films.
A website for the cemetery has also been created to provide further advice to visitors prior to or following a visit and will contain high quality, well researched materials that can be used to help a range of world wide audiences learn about the history of Stirling, through the information contained within the Cemetery.
The project will link with other projects and developments currently happening in the Top of the Town. Community projects are also planned involving those people in family history, genealogy and guided walks, which will bring the unique features of the site back to life.
Martin Fairley, Historic Scotland head of investments and projects, said: “Stirling is famous for its fascinating history which is one of the reasons it is such a popular place to visit.
The restoration of the graveyards will continue the conservation of the Old Town and allow the people of Stirling and visitors to enjoy an authentic experience of what life in Stirling was like through the centuries.”
Stirling’s Old Town cemeteries lie in the shadow of Stirling Castle and in the 17th century the area was the site of the town’s major social gatherings.
The Church of the Holy Rude, where James VI was christened, stands at the entrance to the site, which includes the historic Holy Rude Kirk Yard, the records for which date back to the 1600s.