Digging up the Dead

Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

After only 4 hours sleep, we were up, ready to start our Falkirk adventure. So the day was sponsored by Red Bull – keeping us awake for shenanigans since 1998. Yes, our love affair with Red Bull is longer than a lot of relationships. Our first stop of the day was the Falkirk Wheel, which joins the union canal to the lower Falkirk canal. Apparently they do Halloween boat tours. The Narrow Boat of Terror has a starting point! And it now has a name – TerrorNova. For those who have never heard of the Narrow Boat of Terror, gather round and take a seat. Come closer, we won’t bite 😉 Falkirk WheelOur mate Andrew and us often have post-cinema chats in the car park ’til one a.m., where some of our best conversations take place. You know how most people, when they have crazy ideas, have other people drag them back to reality with annoying things like logic? Andrew doesn’t hobble our creativity in that way. He joins in. And by joining in, some of our greatest ideas are born. None greater than the Narrow Boat of Terror. We plan to buy a canal barge, paint it black, decorate it with skulls, hang a large Jolly Roger off the back and cruise the canals of Britain, terrifying everyone. We even discussed the possibilities of taking it out to Poveglia Island. (Don’t tell us this won’t work, we know that. Just enjoy the journey.) Anyone who knows horror films, know the monster/murderer walks while his prey runs. Because walking is more sinister. So floating slowly down a canal will be more sinister. It will be a place where Halloween never dies. And now we’ve found a place to launch it. Though this will probably go about as well as that time we nearly bought a watchtower in Barry…Still narked about that.

Antonine Wall, Rough Castle

us at the Antonine Wall

We then walked to the Rough Castle Roman fort and the Antonine Wall, which is the edge of the Roman empire. It’s a grassy hill with a ditch either side and the Roman fort can’t be seen, apart from the undulating ground where the walls once stood. It’s like nature is trying to erase the Romans from memory. There are plaques telling you where particular buildings stood, what they were used for etc. They had underfloor heating, double glazed windows, regular baths. Yet after they disappeared, it took until the 20th century to ‘invent’ these things.

Antonine Wall, Rough Castle

the anti-picts ditch

The official legend is that the Romans built the wall there because they believed they were at the edge of Britain. Scottish lore says they were terrified of the Picts and built the wall to keep them out. Like the wildings in Game of Thrones. There are still the defensive ditches, which were holes they dug and lined with pikes to stop the Picts. We leapt over the holes like invading Picts, and thankfully, were not speared by phantom Roman spikes. That would’ve been a sour end to the trip.

John de Graeme

John de Graeme’s tomb

We then went to the Trinity churchyard, which has the tomb of Sir John de Graeme, who was William Wallace’s right hand man. We found an ominous object – a foam machete spattered in fake blood and paint. There was only one conclusion – a clown met a terrible fate in the graveyard during Halloween. Nobody mourned its passing. We photographed it as evidence then moved on. We saw the Mercat cross in Callendar Square and a pub where Robert Burns stayed. One day, Travelodges will have a plaque saying ‘C L Raven stayed here’. Or perhaps ‘C L Raven stayed here. Sorry about that. Full refunds are provided with your breakfast bag’.

Callendar House

Callendar House

We made a quick stop at Callendar House. Unfortunately, it had just closed for the winter season, but we were able to walk around the grounds. Every time we tried to take a photo in front of the house, the sun would pop its golden face up and turn us into silhouettes. We know we only had four hours’ sleep and were probably looking haggard, but this was harsh. At least we’ve found the first of the Scottish Casa Ravens. Hey, if the queen can have palaces in Scotland, so can we.

Callendar House

the Scottish Casa Raven

After that we went to see the Kelpies, which are 100 foot high horse heads, built on what used to be wasteland. They were beautiful. They’re modelled on real Clydesdale horses. Julie’s never been there so she was glad to go. Our next stop was back to Culross to see the village in the day. It’s such a cool place. the KelpiesBeautiful in daylight, atmospheric at night. We walked up to the Abbey again to explore. There was a steep ladder to an upper area, which reminded us of the dungeons in the Eyrie in Game of Thrones. That was scary going down. We posed on stone pillars – that was tricky setting up a self-timed photo, as Cat had to run, jump on her pillar and pose. In ten seconds. But we have mastered self-timer acrobatics. Then we climbed up a wall to find a “do not climb on the monument” sign. That might have been helpful at the bottom! Don’t judge us now, sign.

Culross Palace

Culross Palace

Culross Abbey

at the top of Culross Abbey

We explored the churchyard. The carvings on some of the graves were fantastic. We were beginning to lose the light so made our way to St Bridget’s kirk in Dalgety Bay. Resurrectionsts used to steal bodies from here and row across the Firth of Forth back to Edinburgh, so we wanted to see it for ourselves. We saw it on our Twitter friend, Suzy’s excellent blog Britain’s Forgotten Bodysnatchers and had to visit it. It was a longer walk than we thought it’d be, but it was well worth it. We didn’t expect the church to be ruins you could explore. After exploring the kirk, we went down into the graveyard. Couldn’t help wondering how many graves actually had bodies in them.

St Bridget's Kirk

St Bridget’s Kirk

The graveyard overhangs the bay, so we found a way down so we could see how easy it would be to get a body down. It wasn’t high so it wouldn’t have been a problem. Though Edinburgh looks a hell of a way across the Forth. It would’ve taken ages to row across. There was a group of teenagers in the graveyard, so god knows what they thought as we discussed the logistics of corpse retrieval. It’s ok, teenagers, we’re writers! The watch house was on the outer wall, facing the woods, so we had to go out of the graveyard to photograph it. The window faces the woods – not the bay or graveyard. That’s useful then. No wonder the Resurrectionists were so successful!

Dalgety Bay watchtower

Capturing a body snatcher

By the time we got back, the next train was in an hour, so we cwtched Penny and Roxy until we had to leave. Julie drove us to the train station and waited with us on the platform to make sure we got on the right train. The train to Glasgow left from the same platform. We ended up sitting several rows apart as the suitcase takes up one floor space by itself. We got back to the apartment at 7 p.m. Dalgety BayWe debated about whether to get chips from Rapido. It was in New Town and Cat’s knee had been bad all trip, resulting in daily use of ice patches, so we didn’t fancy walking. Luckily, Tom fixed the wifi so we were able to get online and check it out. They did home delivery! Minimum spend was £5, which was 2 large chips. Perfect! So we went on our first solo train ride and ordered our first takeaway. Check us out adulting like pros! Yes, we realise people probably do this at like 16, but at 16, we were were suffering badly from depression and social anxiety, which resulted in a break down, leaving us unable to leave the house. So for us, this was a big achievement.

Culross

Culross honoured us. Well, Cat.

And to continue the theme of bodysnatchers, the next day was going to start with meeting one of history’s most infamous bodysnatchers: William Burke. We couldn’t wait.

Dalgety Bay

stylish bodysnatchers

4 Comments

  1. Sounds like a great time! Fun read 😀

  2. Thanks for the mention guys and so pleased that you’ve been to Dalgety Bay and seen the watch-house! There’s a watch-house at Culross too, did you see that at all?

    • we wondered if that was a watch house! Good job we went inside there and took photos 😀 We couldn’t decide if it was a watch house or gardener’s shack, but we’re glad you’ve cleared it up 🙂 Culross had some great carvings on their graves.


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