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Corsback cemetery smash clue


By David G Scott

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AFTER the gates of a historic graveyard near Dunnet were smashed in last Wednesday a clue has been discovered that may help identify the perpetrator.

In the incident, a wrought-iron gate and stone pillar were knocked down at Corsback cemetery on the A836 between Dunnet and Mey – presumably by a large vehicle.

People at the historic graveyard survey the damage on Sunday afternoon. Pictures: DGS
People at the historic graveyard survey the damage on Sunday afternoon. Pictures: DGS

Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor Matthew Reiss said: "The damage is such that it seems unlikely that a driver would be unaware of the incident. It's possible that someone driving a large HGV or a tractor and trailer may have struck the post.

"I urge them to contact the police as it's a criminal offence not to stop and report an accident."

On Sunday afternoon, some local people were surveying the damage and one woman, who did not wish to be named, noticed there were "flecks of paint" on the tumbled pillar.

"I thought it had been done deliberately at first but my friend said it was more likely a high-sided vehicle had backed into it," she said.

While surveying the damage, she thought it was "very likely that a heavy vehicle had backed into the gates" while trying to negotiate a three-point turn. "The driver must have known they caused the damage. You don't cause an accident like this and drive off without realising what you did."

A substantial piece of masonry has crashed into the interior of the graveyard, leaving the pillar broken into four parts, with the main central section still holding the large wrought-iron gate. The carved sandstone ball topping the pillar has been broken off but otherwise it appears that the separate sections and gate have not been smashed beyond repair.

The large sandstone pillar lies smashed into four pieces at the entrance to Corsback cemetery. Pictures: DGS
The large sandstone pillar lies smashed into four pieces at the entrance to Corsback cemetery. Pictures: DGS

The reddish-pink flecks of paint that had been left on the surface of the pillar, approximately three feet from the ground, suggest that a vehicle with that colour scheme may have collided with it, thought one of the visitors to the graveyard on Sunday.

The man, a tourist called Ranald Crabtree, said: "A car would have had to been travelling at a substantial speed to knock over this weight of stuff, and with no sign of a smash it seems likely to me that a large vehicle has failed to negotiate a turn and backed into it."

Flecks of reddish-pink paint may hold a clue to finding the vehicle that damaged the gate post. Pictures: DGS
Flecks of reddish-pink paint may hold a clue to finding the vehicle that damaged the gate post. Pictures: DGS

The burial ground contains headstones dating as far back as 1560 and is still in use. It is also an official war graves site with a memorial.

Despite Highland Council knowing about the incident, Police Scotland was not informed until the John O'Groat Journal sent a report and photographs.

A council spokesperson said: "Highland Council is aware of the damage to the Corsback cemetery gate and pillar. We are arranging repairs, and are conducting investigations to establish what happened."

He urged the public to call 101 giving the police incident reference number PF-20190923/2368 if there is information that can help police with their enquiries.




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