The children's plague grave of Devilla Forest

Flowers can still sometimes be seen on the plague grave set deep in Devilla Forest on the fringes of Fife.

Thursday, 29th June 2017, 12:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:24 am
The sign to the plague grave in Devilla Forest. PIC: Flickr/Creative Commons/Euan Morrison

It marks the spot where three children Robert, Agnes and Jeanne Balds, are said to lie after succumbing to the plague on the same day - 14th September 1645.

The children lived around two miles away in Culross, where multiple deaths had been recorded.

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The plague grave at night. PIC: Flickr/Creative Commons/Euan Morrison.

Edinburgh had already been devastated by the disease. It is estimated that up to half of the population died during the outbreak which hit Scotland between 1645 and 1649, while in Leith the percentage was even higher - perhaps due to the steady influx of ships from all over Europe.

Culross was unable to escape harm as it moved north into Fife, Angus, the Mearns and Aberdeenshire.

At Culross, a break of four months was noted in the Kirk Session record and in the blank space was written: “During this intermissione the plague was have upon our toune.”

Flowers can sometimes be seen on the children's grave. PIC: Flickr/Creative Commons/Euan Morrison.

Some bodies were buried on the foreshore where a boulder marked the spot of the dead. Some, like the Balds children, made it to the moor - which is now a Forestry Commission site.

Engraved at the centre of the gravestone stone was a shield or scutcheon and below it a representation of the hammer, the insignia of the girdlesmiths of Culross.

A James Baid, or Bald, was recorded in parish records just after as the Deacon of the Corporation of Girdlesmiths of Culross (1653-1657).

The graves in Devilla Forest may record his children, who are still remembered today with the occasional wreath and bloom.

The plague grave at night. PIC: Flickr/Creative Commons/Euan Morrison.
Flowers can sometimes be seen on the children's grave. PIC: Flickr/Creative Commons/Euan Morrison.