Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hundy Mundy

On a beautiful autumn day, with clear crisp blue skies and the earthen coloured tapestry that this time of year weaves, I traveled 35 miles south of Edinburgh to just outside Kelso in the Scottish Borders. We were visiting a natural burial site called Hundy Mundy wood.

In this relatively small mature wood stands an 18th century folly attributed to the Scottish architect William Adam, and is in sight of Mellerstain House, home to the Earl of Haddington.

An unusual name. It comes from, so it is told, a Princess who lived in a tower that has long since gone, from which the stones were used in 1725 to form the folly now there. A young girl, whom I cannot recollect now how she was connected to the Princess, could not correctly pronounce her name, but could only manage Hundy Mundy. And so, many years later, the folly was given this name.

For the past 5 years it has been available for natural burials. This can be in the form of ashes or a biodegradable coffin. At the place of burial a tiny sandstone plaque, engraved with the deceased's details, is placed flat on the ground. Time, and the prevailing weather, eventually return the sandstone to the earth, leaving no mark that anyone was ever there.
That said there are now a number of stones that are harder wearing but which are still natural looking and feel they belong there. It was also pleasing to note the absence of benches. Instead old fallen trees had been carved into a seat shape for visitors to rest their weary souls.

Oscar Wilde once said: "Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence".

This is Hundy Mundy. The site is so peaceful. I couldn't hear a single sound save for the birds and the gentle rustle of leaves as a gentle breeze made it's way through the wood. The view across the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders in autumn, with wisps of mist hanging in the valleys, was breathtaking.

"To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace".

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