NS7993 : Monument to Margaret Wilson (a Wigtown Martyr)

taken 10 years ago, near to Stirling, Great Britain

Monument to Margaret Wilson (a Wigtown Martyr)
Monument to Margaret Wilson (a Wigtown Martyr)
See NS7993 : Martyrs Monument to the Wilson Sisters, Old Town Cemetery and NS7993 : Wilson Sisters Monument, Old Town Cemetery for other views, and NS7993 : Just waiting for restoration for an older photograph of the memorial.

The inscription at the base reads: 'Margaret, Virgin Martyr of the Ocean Wave, with her like-minded sister Agnes. "Love, many waters cannot quench" - God saves His chaste impearled One! in Covenant true. "O Scotia's daughters! earnest scan the Page" And prize this Flower of Grace blood-bought for you. Psalms IX.XIX.'

[Some personal observations: the name Margaret is derived from the Greek word for "pearl"; the word "impearled" (which perhaps was also intended to suggest "imperiled") clearly refers to this, but it may also be a poetic allusion to the manner of her death (see below).]

The statues are by Alexander Handyside Ritchie, as are many others in the cemetery; compare NS7993 : Statues of three preachers.

Though not directly connected with Stirling, these statues represent the traditional story of Margaret Wilson who, aged 18, was executed by drowning in the Solway Firth for refusing to renounce her Presbyterian principles. A plaque nearby states that statues of heroes of the Scottish Presbyterian Reformation were set up when the cemetery was opened, and were part of the "educational and improving atmosphere of Victorian Stirling"; there were even cemetery guides.

Though it is not mentioned anywhere at this site, Margaret Wilson was one of the "Wigtown Martyrs". The grave of Margaret Wilson and other Wigtown Martyrs can be seen here: NX4355 : Covenanters' Graves, where the horizontal stone is that of Margaret Wilson. Another monument to their memory can be seen here: NX4355 : Approach to the Martyrs' Stake, where the background story is briefly related.

Thanks to Kim Traynor for additional information.
Old Town Cemetery, Stirling
This shared description applies to the Valley Cemetery, Mar's Wark Cemetery, the Kirkyard, Ladies' Rock (a viewpoint), and the Drummond Pleasure Ground (the area around the Star Pyramid). It does not include the more recent (1924) Snowdon Cemetery, which is just to the west. See LinkExternal link (at the Old Town Cemetery website) for a map.

(See LinkExternal link for the Snowdon Cemetery.)

The Valley Cemetery was laid out in 185758. The site had previously been called the Valley: it is labelled as such on John Wood's 1820 town plan of Stirling. A 1725 "Plan of the Town and Castle of Sterling" shows a "Horse Market" in the same area (specifically, centred on the location of the later Valley Rock Fountain). See the paper cited at the end of this description for other early uses of that ground.

Mar's Wark Cemetery is the eastern part, nearest the ruin that is called Mar's Wark (see LinkExternal link for the ruin itself).

Just north of the Valley Cemetery is the Drummond Pleasure Ground, named after William Drummond: it was at his instigation that the Star Pyramid was built there; the Pleasure Ground contains just one burial: his own, marked by a sarcophagus-styled memorial. Drummond was also responsible for certain aspects of the layout of the Valley Cemetery itself, such as its statues, and the Valley Rock Fountain; it was intended to be read as a symbolic religious landscape. The statues of religious reformers and of the Wigtown Martyrs were sculpted by Alexander Handyside Ritchie.

The Kirkyard is a much older burial ground beside the Church of the Holy Rude. At present, it is not separated from the Valley Cemetery by a wall or any other barrier, but the old boundary between them corresponds to the modern path that runs between Ladies' Rock (a rocky knoll with a direction finder on top) and the northern transept of the Church of the Holy Rude. The Kirkyard is to the south of that path, and the Valley Cemetery is to the north.

A useful source of information on all of these burial grounds (and the Drummond Pleasure Ground) is John G. Harrison's paper "The Kirkyard and Cemeteries beside Stirling Castle", which appears on pages 4959 of Volume 33 (2010) of the journal "The Forth Naturalist and Historian"; the writer of the present shared description is indebted to the author of that article. At the time of writing (early 2018), back issues of that journal can be found online: LinkExternal link (at FNH). For the particularly old gravestones to be found in the Kirkyard, another paper by John G. Harrison is valuable: "Some Early Gravestones in Holy Rude Kirkyard, Stirling", on pages 7996 of Volume 13 (1990) of the same journal.
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NS7993, 673 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 22 July, 2008   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 16 September, 2008
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Place (from Tags)
Image Buckets ?
Sculptor (from Tags)
A H Ritchie 
Memorial > Memorial   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 7913 9377 [10m precision]
WGS84: 56:7.2791N 3:56.7469W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 7913 9376
View Direction
North-northwest (about 337 degrees)
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Other Tags
Wigtown Martyrs  Martyrs  Covenanters  Memorial 

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