TONGUE - Melness (TO-A)
Jan 1, 2005

(Our code TO-A)
Melness is a community of small crofting townships, comprising about 70 households (or about 100 houses), stretching for about five miles around the Kyle of Tongue. Melness Estate includes a couple of burns (streams), several beautiful beaches, a sheltered harbour and pier, several lochs, a couple of islands, and extensive peatlands.
The community of Melness has survived mainly as a close-knit core of indigenous crofters, many of whom are descended from the original folk who settled there after being removed from their holdings during the Clearances. They have a close relationship with the land, which they have worked daily for generations, and their community was built stone by stone by their forebears. Melness crofters are very proud of their heritage and extremely proud and supportive of their own folk. They have a keen sense of belonging to Melness and like to maintain their roots there. Indeed, many folk who have left Melness return regularly to visit their relatives and friends and to enjoy the local hospitality, whilst many others retire to their roots in Melness.
Melness burial ground is known as one of Scotland’s most scenic cemeteries. Christine Stokes and Sheila Mackay spent time during 2003 and 2005 visiting Melness and photographing all the gravestones with frequent stops to enjoy the absolutely stunning views! Unfortunately part of this burial ground consists of very old flat stones which are now no longer legible. Thankfully, many of these were recorded during the late 1970s by Cowper & Ross on behalf of the Scottish Genealogical Society. We have transcribed all legible stones, including many post 1855.
Many thanks to Mary Young for her invaluable help in transcribing this burial ground.

Last updated 7th May 2015

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St Andrew's Churchyard, Tongue (TO-B)
Jun 1, 2005

Updated 4th April 2015
Unfortunately I have never been able to spend enough time in this burial ground and subsequently do not have as many photographs as I would like. However I do plan to return one day!

In the meantime I have included the information from the Cowper & Ross visits here in the late 1970s when they recorded the old pre 1855 stones.

Since those days Mary Young, Edinburgh, has collected many photographs of those old stones. Where I do not have a photograph and Mary has, with her permission, I have included a link to it with the transcription. For lots of information on Tongue pay a visit to Mary's site at

I have included many stones of more recent times where they may be of general interest. As always all Mc and Mac names are shown here as Mac. Interestingly people in Tongue seldom used Mc, especially the Mackays.

If anyone has a photograph to donate I would be happy to accept.

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TONGUE - Skerray (TO-C)
Jun 1, 2003

SKERRAY, Tongue – our code TO-C
This beautifully scenic burial ground was photographed by Christine and Sheila in June 2003. We found it much as Mary Young described in 2001. Lovely place, friendly people making an enjoyable day spent here.
There are many Mackay’s buried here and it was interesting to note that with few exceptions they all use the spelling Mackay.
This graveyard is separate from the local church. Many Highland graveyards were located on the sea shore, using otherwise worthless land and ensuring that the dead could be carried downhill to their last resting place. The graveyard is long and narrow, occupying the strip of land between road and sea. Beyond the wall, there is just enough grass to walk on, before the ground falls steeply to the beach. High tide mark is virtually under the wall. Given its situation, the older part of the graveyard is in surprisingly good condition, with only a small number of leaning and fallen stones. The leaning stones appear stable; of the fallen stones, most are lying face-down (Murphy's Law); one or two have been propped against the wall. We saw no trace of rabbits within the wall, and only two molehills.
Mary Young, October 2001
Note: many of the old stones at Skerray are now difficult to read. Grateful to Mary Young for her help in deciphering a few of the most difficult.

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