The Strange Case of the Covenanter’s Grave at Windshiels

A modern memorial cairn to a Covenanter’s grave lies near the foot of Winshiels Hill in Annandale, Dumfriesshire. How it came about is a very curious story…

Map of Monument           Aerial View of Site of Monument

The Grave at Winshiels © Bob Cowan and licensed for reuse.

The inscription on the cairn is as follows:

‘Grave of A Covenanter.
For sheltering whom, nearby
Andrew Hislop was taken
by Claverhouse and shot
at Craighaugh 12th May 1685.
Two fugitives to Mid Winshields rest here.’

The memorial records the grave of two or three Covenanters, a Covenanter connected to the capture of Andrew Hislop and two fugitives connected to Mid Winshields.

Who the ‘two fugitives to Mid Windshields’ were is not clear. However, Andrew Hislop does appear in the historical sources.

Andrew Hislop and the Grave
His capture was first recorded by Alexander Shields in 1690:

‘Sir James Johnstoun of Westerhall, caused apprehend Andrew Hislop in the parish of Hutton [and Corrie] in Anandale delivered him up to Claverhouse, and never rested untill he got him shot by Claverhouse his Troupers [in May, 1685]’. (Shields, A Short Memorial, 37.)

Shields did not give a specific location for where Westerhall captured Hislop in Hutton and Corrie parish.

Three decades later, Wodrow also did not name a specific location for where Hislop either lived or was captured. His longer version of events added an account for Westerhall’s earlier actions, but it also, curiously, changed who captured Hislop.

‘From Annandale I have a vouched account of the murder of Andrew Hislop, in the parish of Hutton, there that same day [i.e., 11 May].’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 249.)

However, at the end of his account Wodrow contradicts his initial statement that Hislop was killed ‘there’, i.e., in Hutton and Corrie parish: ‘In the place where he was shot, he lies buried in Craighaugh in Eskdale Muir’. (Wodrow, History, IV, 250.)

Hislop’s gravestone lies at Craighaugh in Eskdalemuir parish, rather than Hutton parish.

Map of Grave at Craighaugh

The gravestone, which was erected in 1702, confirms that Hislop was shot by John Graham of Claverhouse and James Johnstone of Westerhall at Craighaugh and dates the execution to 12 May, 1685. Wodrow dated Hislop’s capture to 10 May and his execution to 11 May. The date on the grave is probably correct.

Looking beyond the inconsistencies over the precise date of capture and who captured him, all of the early sources for Hislop agree that he was captured in one location in Hutton parish and executed in another, almost certainly at Craighaugh.

Wodrow is the only early source that connects Hislop to the burial of an anonymous Covenanter, but he does not locate the latter’s grave in Hutton parish.

Wodrow’s Account of a Grave
‘Andrew Hislop was but a youth, and lived, as did his brother and sisters, with his mother, a very honest religious woman. To her house, it seems, one of the suffering people, upon his hiding, had come, being indisposed, and after some days sickness, died there.’

No date is given for the death of the Covenanter, but, if it took place, it most likely happened between mid 1683 and May 1685 when the combined effect of Fugitive Roll and the pressing of the Abjuration oath led to a sharp increase in the number of wanderers seeking refuge in the hills.

Wodrow continues:

‘She and her sons fearing persecution for reset and converse, after he was dead, caused bury him in the night time, in the fields near by. The grave being discovered, Wester-raw [i.e., Westerhall] came with a party of men, and most barbarously turned up the dead body out of the grave, and coffin, and perceiving him a stranger, strict inquiry was made about him. They very soon got notice that the corps had come out of the above-said widow’s house. Whereupon Wester-raw went immediately to the house, and spoiled it, taking away every thing that was portable, and pulled down the house, putting the woman and her children to the fields.’ According to Wodrow, the losses of Hislop’s mother came to ‘the value of six hundred and fifty pounds Scots’.

After the discovery of the stranger’s grave, Hislop and his family were ‘forced to wander’ for an unspecified time period until 10 May, 1685, when ‘Claverhouse falls upon Andrew Hislop in the fields’ and brought him ‘to Eskdale unto Westerraw that night’. (Wodrow, History, IV, 249-50.)

The First Connection
In 1858, the Ordnance Survey Name Book made reference to the glen at Winshiel in which Hislop was captured:

‘Andrew Hyslop, the last man who suffered martyrdom in Scotland, was taken prisoner in this glen, and conveyed from thence to Craig Haugh, where he was shot by Johnstone of Westerhall. A tomb stone has been erected to his memory’. (OS Name Book 1858.)

Hislop was not the last man martyred in the Killing Times.

The location of a grave or monument near Winshiels was not marked on the OS mid-nineteenth century OS maps. From the phraseology of the entry in the Name Book it is reasonably clear that the ‘tomb stone erected to his memory’ meant Hislop’s gravestone at Craighaugh. In other words, although no monument existed before 1858, a tradition connected the glen with his capture.

The Second Connection
A tradition (that uses Wodrow’s account) is embedded in Thomson’s late-nineteenth century story of Hislop in Martyr Graves. It recalls how Hislop was captured, apparently close to his former home.

‘Andrew Hislop belonged to the parish of Hutton, in Dumfriesshire. Two small cottages, about a mile to the north of Gillesbie, are still pointed out as the place where he lived along with his mother, a younger brother, and two sisters.’ (Thomson, Martyr Graves, 454.)

The cottages are probably those at Windshiels

Map of Windshiels           Aerial View of Windshiels

‘[…] While Mrs Hislop and her family were thus homeless, Andrew was wandering in the fields, and in the distance saw Claverhouse and his troopers approaching. He immediately ran to catch a horse that had escaped Westerhall’s clutches. It had always been very tractable, but that day it refused to come near him. Andrew immediately hid himself in a clump of bushes near by. The soldiers passed by and would not have seen him had not his dog betrayed him by barking. It is said the neighbours were asked for a rope to bind him. One woman wrapped her cart rope round her body, and would give the loan of it for no such purpose. At last a man without scruples came out with his, saying, “I’ll give you ropes to hang all the Whigs in Dryfe.” Hislop was at once taken prisoner and brought by Claverhouse to Sir James Johnston, while he was in Eskdale. (Thomson, Martyr Graves, 454-5.)

The Inscription on the Memorial Cairn © Bob Cowan and licensed for reuse.

A Grave Appears, Then Disappears
The grave near Winshiels first appears on OS six inch map NY19 published in 1958 as ‘Covenanter’s Grave (Site of)’. However, it appears that the “Object Name Book” thought that the marking of the grave was ‘published in error and a duplication of ‘Hislop’s Grave (AD 1685)’ at Craig Haugh, Eskdalemuir’

As noted above, Wodrow did connect Hislop to the burial of an anonymous Covenanter at an unnamed location close to his home and there was a later tradition that Hislop was captured in the glen, apparently close to his former home. If there is a grave at the site, it is not Hislop’s grave.

In 1978, the Ordnance Survey visited site and reported:‘In confirmation of O[bject] N[ame]B[ook], there is no trace or local knowledge of a memorial stone at the published site. Visited by OS (J R L) 22 September 1978.’

However, I have recieved information that the site was known locally in the 1950s and 1960s, which probably indicates that the OS 1978 search may not have been thorough. (See comments from Bruce Kelly and Jane Houstin below.)

A Monument Appears
According to Royal Commission of Ancient and Historic Monuments, the current edition of the OS 1:10,000 scale map depicts a monument ‘about 30m SE of the location published on the 1958 edition of the OS 6-inch map’.

Are the grave and the monument separate sites? The answer would appear to be no, as both the monument and the 1958 OS Map both refer to the burial site of a Covenanter.

The present monument was erected prior to 1996 when Thorbjörn Campbell recorded the inscription on the monument in Standing Witnesses. (Campbell, SW, 206. See also comments below.)

The site appears to be an amalgam of traditions around Andrew Hislop’s capture, rather than a historical grave site.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on June 29, 2012.

9 Responses to “The Strange Case of the Covenanter’s Grave at Windshiels”

  1. […] Three decades later, Wodrow’s longer version of events claimed that Claverhouse captured Hislop and brought him to Westerhall. For a discussion on the capture of Hislop, see the monument at Winshiels. […]

    • I was very interested to read this article as I was brought up in the village of Boreland and in the 1960’s we often as boys visited the Covenanters Grave at Windshiels. At this time it was just a carved stone lying on the ground and it appears that it has been lifted and incorporated into the present cairn. Therefore the claim by OS that there was no local knowledge of the grave or marker stone may have been true when they visited in 1978 but this memorial stone was known to all the local Boreland villagers in the fifties and sixties and was at or near the present cairn throughout my childhood.

  2. […] Andrew Hislop is also associated with a grave site at Windshiels. […]

  3. Hello Mark,

    Further to my post I can remember I first learned of this monument from my stepfather Billy Hogg and when me and my friends went to look for it we initially couldn’t find it and we left the area and on walking back down the burn we encountered the occupant of the smallholding known as Shankend. This was a shepherd by the name of Joe Jackson who walked us back up the stream and pointed out the stone which was very hard to spot as it was lying flat on the ground and covered in moss and grass. So maybe have been in the same state when OS went there and they simply didn’t see it. Unfortunately most of the old folks like my stepfather who was a mine of local information of Boreland and the surrounding area have now passed away so local knowledge is now almost lost.

  4. […] OS maps, on the Caldwell to the west of Dragon’s Plantation. The linn is to the north-west of the monument at Winshields. If anyone can find and photograph the Dumb Linn, that would be […]

  5. I reading about the covenaters grave at Wndshiels it is where I grew up I lived in Shankend at the time from 1971 to 1989. my dad was the shepherd there at that time and the grave was erected at that time and yes there was people coming to see the grave of the covenaters, there wasn’t a lot of people who knew about the grave being there it was well hidden from sight you could only acess it from Shankend or Windshiels, the most direct route was to go to Shankend and go through a couple of fields well one and a short trip over the burn and u were there at the grave of the covenaters.

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