KATRINA VALLE & NIC RUE: Self-Directed Residency, 2013



We walked across the field and through the deep leaves down into the little churchyard.



One grave is covered with a big metal cage, inside on the grave are nestled five rounded stones, they look tactile, inviting. The oldest grave in the cemetery. The stones hold a curse, move them and you will be hurt. Someone had their arm broken, someone else went missing, eventually the footmen of the estate threw the stones in the river. One of them died. The stones were eventually retrieved and discovered years later being used as doorstops by the Laird’s family. They were returned to their grave and a cage built over them to protect them, to protect from them.


The churchyard is the Rothiemurchus family’s private graveyard, reserved for members of the family and staff of the estate. There are 12 vacant plots left now which have all been allotted.



We gave the gravedigger a fright, he doesn’t ever see people in the churchyard anymore. Not since family history research started to be conducted online. He used to regularly find people among the headstones looking for ancestors, relatives.



He used to find bits of meat and weird symbols in amongst the gravestones, especially around halloween, the witches used the place for ceremonies. The gravedigger said he had always wanted to hide out and try to see what they got up to.



One man, new to the job, went along by himself to check the ivy growth among the tombs of the knights who went on the crusades. He ran scared away from the place and refused to ever go back. He wouldn’t say what had happened.



On warm days the gravedigger would lie in the sunshine and fall asleep in the deep grass.


Katrina ValleNic Rue