Guided by a Stone Mason

All my assumptions had been wrong.  We had tacked
on a visit to the ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral to our busy palace-hopping (Scone
and Glamis) day.  I knew that there was a parish church at Dunkeld, but I
assumed the ruins of the cathedral would be separate and not subject to closing
times.  Dunkeld was on our way home and we would just pop in anytime and check
out the ruins.  So I thought.

We arrived at 6:15 and the sign on the gate to the
church/cathedral said they closed at 6:30.  When part of the roof of the
original cathedral collapsed, a new wall was built and the parish church
continues in the shortened space.  The entire building was gated and
locked overnight. 
We were enamored with the parish church.  St. Giles
in Edinburg with her huge dimensions, massive organ, and long history is
awe-inspiring, but it feels more like a museum than a house of worship.  Dunkeld
was delightful.  We both could imagine our home church meeting in a space like

A woman entered the back of the church and made
small noises to indicate that the area was closing.  Too bad!  We hadn’t even
begun to look at the ruins. 
We walked outside, shot rapid photographs like a
repeating rifle, and began the walk back to the car.  A kind gentleman saw our
disappointment and waved us back to the ruins.  It was clear that he knew this
site well.  He had a proprietary interest and started to give us a personal
tour.  Look up and see the feet of that pillar?  Come into this area. 
Imagine being tried by a church court in this room.  Do you see part of the
painting of Soloman judging the decision on the baby?
  We were drinking
large gulps of information that he was generously serving us.

He told us that he had been a stone mason working
on the church and the ruined cathedral for 27 years.  He pointed out different
projects he had been part of.  I never considered that even a ruined cathedral
requires maintenance for safety’s sake.  As we stood talking outside the
cathedral, he pointed to his feet.  See this? Water was puddling up here and
the powers that be decided we needed to drain the area and replace the stones. 
When we dug up these stones we found a mass grave. 
We would have loved to have two hours with
this kind gentleman. He was a primary source full of information.  We asked if
he worshiped here at the parish church.  Why, yes, I’m the beadle!  When I
retired I couldn’t leave the church after spending 27 years working on it.  I
became the beadle
We didn’t really know what a beadle was.  I don’t
even know about the spelling, but don’t have time on my internet purchase to
Google it.  So one of you will have to look it up for me (thank you).  We asked,
please, what does a beadle do?  Are you in charge of the property?  No, you
might say that I take care of the minister
.  Would that every church had a
Tonight at dinner we reviewed our time here in
Central Scotland.  The organ concert at St. Giles was magnificent.  The four
castles (Sone, Glamis, Stirling and Edinburgh) have been fascinating.  We’ve had
wonderful walks and exceptional drives.  But we agreed that the highlight so far
has been our visit to Dunkeld Cathedral and being guided by the stone mason. 


9 thoughts on “Guided by a Stone Mason

  1. Sounds like a divine appointment!  I love it.Reminds me of the scripture ” Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy
    priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by
    Jesus Christ.”

  2. Wonderful! Thank you, Carol, for the beautiful pictures and commentary on your visit to Scotland. I missed the first part because I never got to Xanga at all for a few days, but I will read every word of your journal.

  3. Beadle, sometimes spelled “bedel” is derived from the Latin “bidellus” or “bedellus,” rooted in words for “herald.” The term moved into Old English as a title given to a Saxon officer who summoned householders to council. In England, the word came to refer to a parish constable of the Anglican Church, one often charged with duties of charity.
    If anyone ever watched The Vicar of Dibley, the beadle was a blond gal with big eyes, who was a bit dim, and mostly listened to Dawn French’s puns!

  4. I read a poem 2 quarters ago that mentioned a beadle who watched over the orphans as they filed into church. They were silver-haired and stern, as i remember it. Wish I could remember which poet wrote it. If I remember, I’ll let you know. The ruins look AMAZING. Wonderful photography!

  5. It’s so fun to hear your voice from the ruins .Anna is going through Dr. Grant’s Gileskirk lectures on Christendom this year. Your story reminds me of how he takes his students to the UK and sometimes tries to point out small details of craftsmanship in places they visit, like doorknobs and lintels. Sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to notice all the big things, that the small things get lost until we see them through the eyes of someone who can guide us. And the small things are often amazing.

Comments are cinnamon on my oatmeal!

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