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Monuments and Monumental Inscriptions in Scotland
By Rev. Charles Rogers in 2 volumes (1871)


Monuments are as milestones in the pathway of civilization. In early times memorial stones were not reared. When tribes became communities, unhewn stones were set up to perpetuate their heroes. As nations arose, cairns were heaped in celebration of national triumphs, or to denote the graves of Princes. When the Israelites crossed Jordan, they placed twelve stones in memorial of the event; on their establishment as a nation they erected tombs in honour of their prophets. Decorated mummy tombs were common in ancient Egypt; the pyramids, which are clearly monumental, were built about two thousand years before Christ. The Assyrians constructed imposing edifices in celebration of their kings. The Greeks adorned their tombs with elegant sculptures; these at length assumed magnificent proportions, such as the celebrated Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. In Italy the Romans substituted the adorned sepulchral chambers of Etruria by spacious structures, which while honouring the dead suited the convenience of the living. Alike among eastern and western nations the barrow, or sepulchral mound, was superseded by the cromlech, which in its turn was exchanged for the Runic cross and other sculptured forms.

The memorial stones which form the subject of this work belong to a class usually termed modern. They began to be reared in the thirteenth century, but were then reserved for kings and warriors and churchmen. At the Reformation churches and abbeys were found studded with the cenotaphs of ecclesiastics; these, with the statues of saints and martyrs, were held as idolatrous, and thrown down. For two centuries afterwards, monumental tablets were disallowed in churches; while even in churchyards ornamental monuments were discommended. In respect of such memorials a more cultivated taste arose some sixty years ago. To encourage that taste, and to aid in preserving existing monuments, this work was originated. But the publication may be found useful to some who take no concern in monumental affairs; to the student of Family History it will yield convenient assistance—while to those interested in the memorials of National History it will convey information otherwise inaccessible.

An absolutely complete work was scarcely to be attained. For his performance the author claims only such an approach to completeness as might be accomplished by unwearied diligence. His inquiries were commenced in 1861. In August of that year he addressed a circular letter, accompanied with a schedule, to the whole of the parochial clergy. A schedule was afterwards despatched to the parish schoolmasters. In the principal Scottish journals information has been repeatedly solicited. Local antiquaries have been addressed. A tour was prosecuted throughout the principal counties, including nearly every portion of the Lowlands. If the author has had frequently to regret that parochial functionaries have been unable to spare an hour or two in procuring information for a national work, and on a subject associated with the memory of their predecessors, he has on the other hand had occasion to rejoice in many intelligent and obliging coadjutors. For materials used in the present volume he has been under especial obligations to the Very Reverend Dean Ramsay. David Laing. Esq., LL.D., and John Alexander Smith, Esq., M.D., Edinburgh; William Euing, Esq., Glasgow; David Semple, Esq., Paisley; William McDowall, Esq., Dumfries; A. Campbell Swinton, Esq., of Kimmerghame; the Rev. John Struthers, Prestonpans; and Mr. Andrew Currie, sculptor, Darnick.

Every work bearing on the history of Scottish tombstones, and the various local and provincial histories have been examined; while the inscriptions and epitaphs contained in the collections of Monteith and others have been carefully utilized. Of modern publications none has proved more useful than Dr. Hew Scott's "Fasti Ecclesis Scoticanre," a work which in minute and accurate details of ecclesiastical biography is altogether unrivalled. For greater convenience of reference an index is appended to each volume.

Snowdoun Villa,
Lewisham, S.E.,
September, 1871.

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Volume 1  |  Volume 2

Andrew Currie, A gifted Border Sculptor

Of the many thousands of patriotic Scotsmen who annually do homage at the shrine of King Robert Bruce, few, perhaps, ever give a thought as to who was the gifted designer of the colossal statue standing on the esplanade of Stirling Castle, and although this gifted knight of the chisel died a few years ago (having passed over to the majority at the ripe age of seventy-eight), perhaps a brief sketch of the career of Mr Currie, the Border sculptor, will be read with interest by the readers of “The Border Magazine.”

A native of Ettrick Forest, where his father was a tenant farmer, he was at an early age sent to the Grammar School, Selkirk. As the boy had little taste for farming, but a great desire for handling edged tools, his father was encouraged to apprentice him to a Mr Moody, a millwright in Denholm, who was famed all over the country at that time for the construction of country threshing mills. After completing his apprenticeship at Denholm, Mr Currie shortly afterwards procured an appointment in Chatham Dockyard, through the influence of the Minto family—one of the Elliots at that time being Lord of the Admiralty. He remained at Chatham for a few years, during which time (as he used to relate) he witnessed the despatch of the “Erebus” and “Terror” in search of Sir John Franklin. His intense love for the Borderland drew him back to Scotland, end he commenced business in Earlston, in Berwickshire, as a mill-wright, where he established a prosperous concern. His health giving way, he had to dispose of his business, and it was then that he devoted his mind to art. He used to relate a story that before going to Chatham he called on Sir William Allan, who was then president of the Scottish Academy, to ask his advice about making art a means of livelihood. Sir William, after looking at several of the young artist’s sketches, remarked that in his opinion the sketches were very creditable for a beginner, but advised him to turn his attention to sculpture. Among Mr Currie’s earliest patrons at Earlston were Sir John Murray, of Philiphaugh, and the Coresworths of Cowdenknowes. About this time Mr Currie executed in wood the famous fancy flower-stand descriptive of Thomas the Rhymer. This magnificent piece of wood carving was exhibited in Edinburgh at the Royal Scottish Academy, and is now in Martoun House.

After remaining a number of years in Earlston, Mr Currie removed his studio to Darnick, a village lying between Galashiels and Melrose.

Of the ancient tower of Darnick the late Mr Peter Caldwell, Border poet, wrote: —

"The devil he sat in Darnick Tower,
An' oot on Darnick looket he;
Qnoth he to himself, as he did glower,
This is the place where I like to be."

Mr Currie remained in Darnick until his retirement from business about two years before his death, which took place at Edinburgh. It was in his interesting studio at Darnick, surrounded by many works of sculptural art, and under the shadow of Melrose Abbey, that he designed his great work, which will link his name with Scottish independence as long as a spark of patriotism remains in the Scottish heart. Here, too, he designed and executed ihe following works:—“Mungo Park’s” monument at Selkirk; “Hogg’s” (the Ettrick Shepherd) monument at St Mary’s Loch; his famous conception of “Edie Ochiltree” and “Old Mortality,” now on the Scott’s monument at Edinburgh ; and the “angel figures” on “Drummond Tract Depot” at Stirling. Mr Currie’s finest work in wood-carving was an oak mantelpiece standing 15 feet high, which he executed at a cost of £500 for his brother, Mr John Currie, of Larra, Victoria. This fine work was exhibited in the Exhibition of Melbourne, and was universally admired, prior to removal to Larra. In addition to these works, Mr Currie executed a host of other original works of lesser note, such as St. Patrick’s altar and the handsome pulpit in the Catholic Church, Galashiels, to which body he become a convert in his later years.

Mr Currie never looked on his art as a means of gain, but simply as a pure labour of love, he was a keen antiquarian, and very few men now living possess such a fund of Border lore. He contributed many racy and interesting articles and stories to Border newspapers and magazines, but the fact that they were generally unsigned, or only initials used, prevented him getting full credit for the delight he gave to the readers. Not a few of these articles have been reproduced from time to time in the pages of the Border Magazine. It was while in quest of Border folk-lore that I became acquainted with the genial, warm-hearted, and gifted artist, and it is with pleasure that I look back on the many pleasant and profitable hours spent within his art sanctum in the quiet little old-fashioned village of Darnick.

Geo. Desson.

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