"Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

"The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what has yet to be...

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Originally uploaded by musicmuse_ca

 Linton Church graveyard
(photo taken by Beth Kotkin 9/2004)

This rural graveyard can still be found at the small Kirk at Linton. The church is located down an unmarked one-lane dirt road in a remote area of the Scottish Borders.

I made the long journey to this little church when I turned 50. I came to find my ancient maternal ancestors who have been buried here for almost a thousand years.

The shot shows a view of what was once the Linton Loch. The Linton Loch once included 1000 acres of marshland that was home to hawks, falcons and many other waterfowl. The loch waters dominated the village of Linton and was fed by the river Kale for many centuries. It is lost to us, a victim of excessive drainage and other “improvements” in the 19th century. The birds of prey are mostly gone now and farmlands now cover the former lake bed.

But the stream known as the Kale Water still descends from the Cheviot Hills and winds it way just south of what is left of the village of of Linton to join with the river Teviot, just as it did a thousand years ago when my ancestors built their stronghold here. Salmon and trout can still be found in the river Tweed, though not so abundantly as in times past.

None of the old-growth oak and the ash forests are left that once covered this whole area during the 12th Century. The Jedforest which grew from the Cheviots along the Jed Waters and over all of the hills south of Linton on the border of Scotland and England is a pale shadow of what it once was.

During more peaceful times, these forests were first cleared by the industrious monks of the Border Abbeys to make way for the Cheviot sheep which you can still see grazing in the Cheviot Hills. Later, during the bloody Border battles between Scotland and England, the English cleared what was left of the ancient forests to keep them safe from the wild men, outlaws and independence fighters who once took refuge here.

The graves of my ancestors lie undisturbed now, and the causes they died for are long forgotten.

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