To Keep Them Warm and Dry?

My holidays of late seem to have centered on visiting graveyards – especially those with a watchtower or watch-house!  One of my recent jaunts took me to the beautiful St Bridget’s Kirk at Dalgety Bay, not too far from Edinburgh and on the banks of the Forth.
Facing the roofless church, just to the right and hidden by the churchyard wall is a small watch-house and from all accounts, this small structure was not used for its intended purpose – that of watching over the dead! 
The small but perfect watch-house


My first impression of this site,  was why would body snatchers row over to a Kirk that had possibly the best view in Scotland? Surely they could not have been that clever in ‘snatching’ and would clearly have been caught the minute they stepped foot on the shore – there was a watch-house for heavens sake!



The view over the Forth

But perhaps this watch-house was to be used on occasion for another purpose altogether?

Due to the high demand for cadavers in Edinburgh, the beadles. who were meant to be watching over the dead and saving them from the clutches of the Resurrection Men, instead, or so legend says, used to signal across the Forth to bodysnatchers waiting on the other side, thus informing them of when a fresh corpse was ready for collection.

Dalgety Bay – a fine watch-house

The chimney obviously suggests that there was a fire place inside the watch-house. Perhaps the beadles found it easier to collaborate with the body snatchers and stay warm and dry than try to protect freshly dug graves?

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