A survey of Council churchyards carried out in 1997 to 1998 established that around 100 were medieval in origin. The built heritage, historic interest and significance of the churchyards and the structures they contain resulted in many being designated as Listed Buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments. A number contain remnants of former churches.
Whilst there was considerable interest in taking forward a programme of repair and consolidation it was not until the Sulwath Connections Landscape Partnership, working in partnership with Historic Scotland and Solway Heritage, took forward a project on the Conservation of Historic Churchyards that any action to conserve these intriguing and important local monuments has been possible. SCLP is taking forward the consolidation of 4 of these sites judged to be the most architecturally and archaeologically interesting are at Dalton, Wigtown, Minnigaff and Sark.
A baseline survey of Council managed churchyards carried out in 1997 to 1998 established that some 100 were medieval in origin. The built heritage, historic interest and significance of the churchyards and the structures they contain has resulted in many being designated as Listed Buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments. A number contain remnants of former churches. Site visits to a number of those which were assessed as being of particular interest identified the urgent need for programmes of maintenance and repair to masonry structures: ruined churches, boundary walls, tombs. ‘Ownership' is a complex issue and may have a bearing on the work eventually carried out.
The project is conserving and consolidating the ruins of these historic graveyards by carrying out masonry consolidation repairs to ruined church structures. The first stage has been the removal of vegetation to expose the full extent of missing pointing and damaged stonework and will be followed up by sympathetic consolidation of the historic structures. Contractors are busy at present at Dalton and Wigtown Churches.
Interpretation will also be a strong element of this project, with panels on site and through the development of a web based resource. Information will be collated to assist interpretation and to guide future management.
Along with interpretation it is planned to hold some training days for local building contractors and stonemasons in the use of traditional lime mortars which will be run locally by the Scottish Lime Centre Trust.