As you drive north from Glasgow into the highlands of Scotland, you might pass what is one of Scotland’s most picturesque village, Luss. The village is located on Loch Lomond and is very popular with tourists. In the middle of town lies the church, surrounded by an old graveyard. The current church dates to 1875, but the site is much older, as some kind of holy structure has been here since 510 CE. There is even evidence of its old age in the cemetery, as there are quite a few that are pre-18th century. More importantly, there is an old memorial in the graveyard, known as a Viking hogback stone. This stone probably dates back to around 1260, when Vikings raided the local area. The stone is meant to look like a mighty building, and is of a similar shape to an upturned boat. It has carvings on the side that you can just barely make out. Apparently it was restored a few years ago, but rain and humidity have meant that the moss has already come back to obscure some of the carvings. These types of stones date to the 10th-12th centuries, are Anglo-Saxon (i.e. Scandinavian) in origin, and are only found in the British Isles (and Ireland).
This is a small churchyard, and with its age the stones too are a bit older, featuring more traditional symbols that were common before the Victorian era.
Many of the other stones had details about the deceased, or in one case, a terrible family tragedy (though not surprising, living next to a large lake).
Overall I was happy that we made this stop at the end of our day of touring the Scottish highlands. I’m not sure that this was part of the original tour, but as we got a bit rained out in the afternoon this was an easy site to visit. I was surprised that most of the others on my tour group were more interested in visiting the cemetery than the town, although I guess it’s not often we can come across old sites like these.
Monuments: a small number of older, more traditional slab stones, the Viking hogback stone is a clear draw.
Grounds: small, easily walkable, if a bit soggy after the rain.
Visitors: Well, I came with a small tour group and most of them were in the cemetery at the same time I was. However, a few other straggling tourists came by at the same time. This is a small town with limited sites so I imagine the cemetery sees a lot of foot traffic.
Notes: Even though I found the stones difficult to read at times, I think they were easier to read since they were wet from the rain, they are probably not as clear when dry.
Site: Luss Parish Churchyard
Established: around 510
Notable Internments: a couple of Vikings
Location: the town of Luss, situated next to Loch Lomond
Hours: not sure, but probably daylight hours. There is a gate but I don’t know if it closes at all.