Funke Olaode during her recent vacation to Aberdeen, Scotland discovered a graveyard where the living relax among the dead
What comes to mind when you hear graveyard or cemetery? You cringe in fear. But for St. Nicholas graveyard there is nothing to worry about as it has become a haven for fun-seekers and those seeking a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the shopping area. It is also a meeting place for lunchtime workers when the weather is good.
This graveyard is situated in the heart of the city adjoining the main thoroughfare, Union Street in Aberdeen and it is directly opposite the popular eatery, Mc Donald’s. According to THISDAY findings, the graveyard is a very old churchyard which dates back to centuries with a long and distinguished history.
St. Nicholas is not just an ordinary graveyard as it has history of many prominent citizens of the city buried there. The present graveyard layout dates from 1829 and was designed by architect John Smith. There are a little over 1000 gravestones to be found - though the proportion of unreadable ones is higher in this resting place as many of the flat ones have been walked over (or sat upon) for generations. There are approximately 4000 names still to be found on the inscriptions.
There are some comfortable benches and many folk like to browse around the tombstones and memorials, some of which date back to the 17th Century. There are also open places like field where you can have a family outing. There is no fee or any money attached as the place is open 24 hours for relaxation
The church itself has an interesting history - more so when you consider that the building consists of two churches - the East Church and West Church, this arrangement dating from 1596. The present building is obviously constructed of differing architectural styles. The earlier West Church dates from 1755 while the more modern ornate East Church was constructed in 1876.
An interesting graveyard with many distinguished stones spanning the centuries! Those against the west wall are particularly interesting. One grave of particular note within the grounds is that of Mrs. Duthie, donator of the grounds which formed the Duthie Park to the west of Aberdeen. A woman to whom all Aberdonians owe a great debt.
This churchyard, despite its central location has in the past had a bit of a reputation for being a haunt of undesirables. The graveyard is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a lady dressed in a white dress.
On a cold afternoon, reporter in me would not rest until I pay a visit to this mysterious place. Confronted with by a young lad who gave his name as simply Roberts, I popped the question “Why does he have to choose a graveyard for relaxation?”
His answer was simple. “This is no longer a graveyard as you can see that people troop in and out of the place for relaxation”. And for the alleged ghost? Roberts waved it off. “There is nothing to fear about. The dead are gone and gone forever. Besides, this cemetery is over 400 years. Are the dead coming to haunt the living? It has been in existence for centuries. I am not afraid. We visit here often and when the hustle and bustle of Union Square takes its toll on us, we find a safe haven at this graveyard. As you can see, it is situated directly opposite the popular eatery, McDonald. It is either you have a quick bite inside or you dash across the road and enjoy your meal inside the graveyard.”
For an elderly, Thompson: “It is a relaxation centre. As you know this is a cold city and most Aberdonians endure during winter. But this cemetery’s serenity, calmness makes one of the best places to relax and enjoy sunny summer. I stroll down once in a while and it is being wonderful.”
So if you are opportune to pay a visit to the oil city or academic city as Aberdeen is often referred to, you too can have a family outing at this graveyard at no cost.
Above all, this is a wake call to governments and those in authority to always keep its historical or monument in memories of the heroes of the past.