Susan Mills, Museum and Heritage Office for Clackmannanshire Council, writes:
The seven burial grounds are of considerable interest in terms of the history and development of the Hillfoots. A significant cult of St Serf, the 6th century missionary, seems to have existed in the area, leading to the dedication of the early churches in Alva, Tillicoultry and perhaps Logie, all of which are located at vantage points on the lower slopes of the hills; Dollar Parish Church is dedicated to St Columba, so presumably the original church had the same dedication. None of the early churches have survived, however, but the forms of the kirkyards, particularly the earliest sites of Logie, Alva and Dollar, may also indicate their early Christian origins, while in Logie and Tillicoultry the 12th century hogback stones, originally a Viking-influenced type of grave marker and quite rare in Scotland, reveal otherwise undocumented Scandinavian influence.
The ruins of the late medieval and post-medieval churches have survived in Logie and Dollar and the late Georgian church of Muckhart incorporates the date stones of four earlier churches, from 1620 onwards. All of the kirkyards contain many late 16th to 18th century trade gravestones which, in the form of carved symbols, give valuable details about the former occupation of the dead person, as well as helping to increase our understanding of the nature of the settlements.
Tait's Tomb, meanwhile, is a rare private burial ground for the Tait family of Harviestoun Castle; its occupants, particularly Craufurd Tait, played a key role in the development of the landscape of that part of the county. This and the six kirkyards contain a wealth of information which will help to illuminate our knowledge of the Hillfoots and its inhabitants.
The Historic Kirkyards project will raise awareness of seven historic kirkyards within the Ochils Landscape Partnership area and will actively contribute to their repair and conservation. This will include:
- data recording of gravestones and research into their origins
- the provision of a FREE searchable gravestone database, with transcriptions of text and information on / photographs of symbols and other features
- improved access by path and vegetation clearance
- biodiversity surveys
- the installation of interpretative panels
- the creation of a Kirkyards Trail (with leaflet / kids packs / postcards)