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The Loneliest Grave

This has been called the loneliest grave in Britain. We stopped here on our way to our hiking day to the Old Man of Hoy.


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The Grave of Betty Corrigal lies on the boundary of Hoy and North Walls parishes on the island of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.


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Betty was a young woman in the late 18th century who fell in love with a young sailor and became pregnant. He returned to sea leaving Betty alone and shunned by her community. In despair, she hanged herself.

Because she committed suicide she was denied burial in the consecrated ground of any of the local churchyards and was instead buried in a bog on the border between the two parishes.

She lay in her unmarked grave from the 1770’s until 1933 when two men digging peat dug up her coffin. They opened the coffin and discovered that the acid from the peat had preserved her corpse. They reburied the coffin and forgot about her, but during World War II her coffin was again discovered. This time by soldiers - also digging peat. Again she was reburied, but this time with a concrete slab placed over the coffin. The grave remained unmarked until 1976 when a small fiberglass headstone was erected during a belated burial service. Fiberglass was used because the boggy ground would not support the weight of a traditional stone marker.

After visiting the grave, we retraced our steps to our car in a cold, constant wind. At the car, we turned to take a goodby photo. I think Betty Carrgill's grave is not the loneliest in Britain. I think it is the loneliest in the world.


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Comments (2)

Barb Cabot:

Such a sad story.

What a sad story. Your photos are great though.

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