Byrness : The Burial Ground
The graveyard continued in use throughout this period. The earliest tombstone which can be seen today is dated to 1685 (Survey of Byness churchyard - text has 1687?). This is the first definite indication to the burial ground at Byrness functioning.
In addition, the Elsdon parish register records that Reignold Ffenwick of Rampshope was buried at 'Birrines' on 26th January 1692. Hodgson notes that that the graveyard contained three 'aisles' or private burial chambers enclosed with stone walls and doors (Hodgson 1827, 148).
One of these - 'though once finely ornamented... now much dilapidated' according to Hodgson - belonged to the Hall family, who resided at Catcleugh in the 18th century, another to the Marshall family and a third to the Akenheads of Whitelee at the head of the valley. The Hall aisle contained the earliest tombstone recorded by Hodgson, which commemorated a certain [............] Fenwick of Ramshope (the Christian name is lost) who died aged 66. Hodgson gives the date of his death as January 1622, however this is almost certainly a misprint and should be amended to 1692 as the Elsdon parish register records that Reignold Ffenwick of Rampshope was buried at 'Birrines' on 26th January 1692.
Hence the earliest definite indication the burial ground at Byrness was functioning is the tombstone of 1685. Mary Fenwick married Martin Hall of Catcleugh in November 1700 (both are buried in the aisle having died in 1743 and 1748 respectively) and this union could explain why the Halls apparently constructed their aisle around an earlier Fenwick burial plot.