Logierait Church stands beside and below the A827 as it makes its way through the village of Logierait in Perthshire, and immediately above the north bank of the River Tay. The building you see today was constructed between 1804 and 1806, apparently on the site of, and perhaps incorporating parts of, an earlier church, itself probably the latest in a series to have stood on the spot. Most sources agree that the first church was established on this site as early as 650, by St Cedd, while travelling from Iona to Lindisfarne.
When we visited, the church was locked, and no information was given about obtaining a key. This doesn't matter greatly, because Logierait Churchyard is well worth a visit in its own right, and contains monuments that allow a glimpse of aspects of the church's earlier history. There are a number of particularly interesting gravestones and other graveyard furniture on view, and there is also a Pictish symbol stone in the churchyard that probably dates back to the 700s, to a time when St Cedd's original church perhaps stood here. A second Pictish symbol stone is on view in the church itself. (Continues below image...)
There is a large layby beside the A827 next to the church, and from here a set of steps descend beyond gates into the churchyard. The church stands close to the slope up to the road, and most of graveyard is to its east and south.
Perhaps the most immediately striking feature is a low stone-walled burial enclosure near the south-east corner of the church. This is home to three iron mortsafes, two of different adult size and one clearly intended for child burials. These date back to the early years of the 1800s when graverobbing was a frequent occurrence across Scotland. Bodysnatchers or "resurrectionists" would steal fresh corpses from graveyards to sell to anatomists and doctors who needed to study bodies. A mortsafe would be placed above a fresh grave and was designed to make stealing the corpse below so difficult that the bodysnatchers would move on. After the body had been in the ground for a while, the mortsafe would be removed for reuse. The introduction into law of the Anatomy Act in 1832 freed up a legal supply of corpses for research and study, and mortsafes were no longer needed. We've seen churchyards with multiple mortsafes on view before, but never in a range of sizes.
Many of the gravestones on view carry the traditional emblems of mortality often found on Scottish gravestones from the 1600s and 1700s. The Christian cross was considered too "papist" by the post-Reformation Scottish Kirk, so until the 1800s, skulls, crossbones, angels, egg timers and other emblems stood in instead. Also on view is an "Adam & Eve Stone" dating from 1784 and representing the biblical story of the Garden of Eden. This commemorates Margaret Connachar. Two other stones in the churchyard from the same era also show depictions of Adam & Eve. Scottish graveyards are notable for gravestones carrying emblems representing the trades of those interred below. The 1794 grave of Duncan McPherson has a stone carrying a depiction of the tools of a shoemaker. There are a number of recumbent gravemarkers in the churchyard whose age is impossible to discern, but which may be much older.
A rather different era of funerary monuments is reflected in the presence of a metal shield leaning against the back of one of the gravestones near the east end of the church. This commemorates William Campbell, who died at the age of 46 on 23 May 1918. Metal gravemarkers, originally carrying enamelled or (as in this case) moulded plates, seem to have been in common use in the early 1900s, but appear to have gone quickly out of fashion, presumably as it became clear how prone to corrosion they were. The markers can still often be seen, but the plates have rarely survived.
Also on view in Logierait Churchyard are two immortelles. Immortelles were complex china memorials marking a grave and incorporating figures, flowers, foliage and birds, covered by a glass dome and protected by a wire outer cover. Extremely fragile, they date back to the Victorian era and very few now survive intact. The two at Logierait have broken domes, but it's still possible to appreciate the original design.
Last, but not least, is the Pictish symbol stone, known as "Logierait 1", set into a cobble surround between the burial enclosure and the south wall of the church. This is irregularly-shaped and not immediately impressive, but as you look more closely you can see that it carries most of a deeply carved cross on its south-east face. It takes more imagination to be able to follow the outline of a horseman and the shape of a serpent and rod on the more heavily eroded north-west face. The Pictish stone in the church is rather larger and was originally found in the churchyard.