Dalgarnoc 5
DUMFRIESSHIRE -- Churches and Graveyards
Dalgarnoc Symbol Stones
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The stone shown top left
is detailed below.
Inscription on the stone above reads:
In memory of the truly pious James GILCHRIS schoolmaster in Glencairn
who lived beloved & died justly lamented by all December 24 1758 aged 19 years.
The inscription on this stone reads:
Here lies the corps of John NIVISON churiugeon in Thornhill who died Decr 20th 1732 aged 42 years.  Also four of his children Alexander, Robert, Janet and Agnes. Also Margrat NIVISON ...
 ...(the rest of the inscription is unreadable

[churiugeon = surgeon]

Examine the symbols on this stone.

The central feature, a winged head, represents the soul leaving the body and ascending to heaven.

The open book represents both the Bible, i.e. the Word of God) or the Book of Judgement to be opened and read on the 'Last Day'. The flaming torch represents the eternal life of the soul. 
All of the above are Christian symbols of immortality, promising life after death.
The two figures flanking these symbols tell a quite different story. The figure on the right is probably male while the left figure is probably female. 
This left figure's body is mostly composed of a torso of foliage.  Below the female head and face the image changes quite dramtically with the arms appearing like hair framing a face.  The rest of the body  comprises overlapping leaves.
Instead of legs the figure terminates as a single twig sprouting large leaves. 
The male figure on the right has no feet!  Instead of feet the legs terminate as roots flowing into the earth.
Such imagery is pagan in origin, and represent an immortal Earth Spirit known as 'The Green Man'.  This pagan deity was reveered because it had the power over nature which dies in Winter then regenerates every Spring.
The inscription on this stone reads:
Here lyes the corps of Robert MILLER
in Upper Kirkland who died the 9 day of August 1732 aged 40 years.
Here we see both mortality and immortality symbols; winged soul, open book, skull, bones & the corpse prepared for burial. 
Also incorporated in the images are symbols of the trade of the deceased.
Shears & flat iron identify the trade
of a tailor, and the spade the
 trade of a maltman or brewer. 
The spade being the tool used
for turning over fermenting grain.
Why should such symbols be used ?
Are they more than just decorative. Memorials such as these date from an age when few of the population were able to read text. The symbols are like an epitaph telling the viewer something of the life of the deceased
At some time in the past, those engaged in ‘conservation’ work in this graveyard have gathered together scattered remnants of old gravestones and other carved stone artifacts and constructed what looks like a crude baptismal font. The upper part is cut from a single block of sandstone to make a shallow hollowed out vessel. At the entrance, the gateposts have been ‘decorated’ with similar carved stone fragments.  Reconstructions  such as these, although probably well intentioned, do not meet with today’s standards for conservation..
Apart from the upper part of this font, it is unlikely that any of the other stones used in this ‘reconstructions’ work ever formed part of the original church.  Similar symbols are to be found on old gravestones throughout the graveyard.
Dalgarnoc Symbol Stones
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