Bog Bodies in Scotland: Covenanter Archaeology

In 1826 or 1827, a new monument was raised at the grave of the Carsgailoch martyrs. A gruesome discovery awaited the workmen toiling in the bog…

CarsgailochThe Carsgailoch Monument © agentmancuso and licensed for reuse.

Simpson recorded the incident when he wrote about the discovery of the three bodies in c.1840.

‘Their place of sepulture is still conspicuous in the dark morass, where a monument was lately erected over their ashes, for the purpose of keeping in memory the tragical fate of these holy and devoted men, who sealed their testimony with their blood. It is worthy of notice here, that when the monument alluded to was reared, about twelve years ago, the following discovery was made :—In digging down and levelling the place for the foundation, the workmen came upon the bodies of the martyrs, imbedded in the moss. They were lying in their clothes, which were undecayed—the identical apparel in which they were shot. The raiment was a sort of strong home-made cloth of the colour of the moss, and appeared in some parts as if originally dyed with heather. The bodies themselves, in a state of good preservation, were of a dull, sallow appearance. Part of the garments, and a lock of long yellow hair, were preserved as relics by the labourers. The hair was obviously that of a young man—very fine and soft. The bodies of these Christian patriots and martyrs were thus seen, after the lapse of nearly one hundred and sixty years [c1841, when Simpson first published his account, rather than the date of the monument], shrouded in their hosen, in their coats, and in their bonnets, exactly as they fell by the murderous hand of their persecutors.’ (Simpson, Traditions, 132.)

The three men in the grave were Joseph Wilson, perhaps of Lesmahagow parish, John Jamieson, perhaps of Muirkirk parish, and John Umphrey, possibly from Lanark.

Some artifacts were recovered and are now held in the Baird Institute in Cumnock. You can see them here.

All three had been killed by Highland forces operating in the area in 1685. For a full discussion of the events which led to their deaths, see here.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to, post on Facebook or retweet this post, but do not reblog in full without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on June 20, 2014.

One Response to “Bog Bodies in Scotland: Covenanter Archaeology”

  1. […] them to the Covenanters who lurked in moss hags. Simpson knew that the bodies of Covenanter martyrs had been previously discovered at Carsgailloch near New Cumnock when a new monument was erected in 1826 to 1827. He also discussed surviving artifacts, allegedly […]

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