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Kilwarlin Moravian Graveyard

Graveyard study


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The graveyard at Kilwarlin is situated to the rear of the Chapel; it is a large flat grassy area with a number of trees growing between the gravestones. There are 8 plots; some do not contain any visible gravestones.

 

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A view of the graveyard
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Presently there are a total of 75 gravestones visible in the graveyard (36 are pre-1900 and 39 that are post-1900) though there are probably many more memorials that have been covered by earth. The earliest inscription recorded is that of Jane McLeavy, who died on the 11th August 1839, even though Cennick opened the graveyard in 1759. One stone is just visible at the corner with the majority buried beneath the earth. From the 75 visible gravestones there are 114 individuals names mentioned in the inscriptions. Unfortunately 5 inscriptions have now completely worn away; fortunately they were previously recorded. This highlights the importance of transcribing the gravestone inscriptions and thus preserving them for future generations.

 

The graveyards most interesting feature is the fact that all the gravestones are laid horizontally rather than the normal upright "headstone". This is to show uniformity in death, that everyone is equal in death. It is tradition that Moravian gravestones only have: name, date of birth, date of death and/or age at death, no titles are recorded, again to show that everyone is equal.

 

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The Purple line in the graph above shows the dates of death recorded. The first headstones appear in the 1831-1850 period, rising to 8 memorials, which would coincide with the arrival of the Rev Zula in 1834. There is a slight decline during the next 20 years, dropping to 5, but rising again to peak at 12 in the 1891-1900 period. Numbers rise to 8 in 1931-1940 and again 1971-1980. 1941 to 1960 sees numbers drop to 3. After 1991 numbers have declined.

The Blue line shows the years of birth calculated from the inscriptions. The church started in 1755 and the earliest recorded birth from the inscriptions is that of Mary Titterington, who was born in 1767. Numbers from 1921 on are low averaging about 1 every decade mainly because individuals born in the 1930?s or after are likely to still be alive.

 

Conclusions that can be drawn from this graph are that many of the pre-1821 gravestones are now completely covered, giving the false impression that the first burial is in 1837. There is a visible decline in births which would correspond with the decline mentioned in the Church account in 1813, but there are two larger declines, in 1861 and 1901. The most interesting aspect of the graph is the noticeable peak of births and deaths in the 1891-1900 period, an epidemic could explain the large number of deaths, although no evidence has been found for this, it also would not explain the large number of births.

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