The Maltman

Happy birthday to my big brother, Steve!

Wandering the Howff again, trolling for material I suppose as always. That’s what I do all the time. You know that by now, don’t you? That’s what writers do: absorb everything and turn it sideways and fit it into stories. You have to turn it slant, as Emily would say, because the naked truth seldom makes a good story. Too many jagged edges and implausible events.

So here’s the gravestone erected by maltman (i.e. brewer) Robert Ramsey and his wife Isabel Duncan in memory of their daughter Margaret who died aged 4 years and 10 months in 1814.

It’s a shock to remember just how recent the heartbreak of early childhood death stopped being so widespread. While poorer nations continue to suffer these losses as a sad norm, we’ve grown used to the expectation that our children will grow and thrive. We went to a christening yesterday, a big happy celebration of life for little Ayla. Long may she prosper. Thankfully she has every likelihood of doing so.

Georgian and Victorian families: together in death as in life. Everyone takes their place in turn. Tradition takes many forms and the constancy of place (at least until the Howff was closed to further burials) preserves a tangible history in a lovely location.

Much to explore in Dundee, but I do find myself drawn back to this site. It’s so beautiful and peaceful. And other nice surprises await there; I shall have to ask Miss Wendy about this nest. I’m not sure what kind of bird dwells here. A ‘pendant nest’ I understand from the initial searches I did.

See more of the photos of this grave at the 2nd Dundee photo album. Much to do this week as I’m off to Harrogate on Thursday. Doubtless many stories to tell from there! Trying to get some good way into the new novel in case I have an opportunity to pitch it to someone.


  1. It always troubles me to see how often children died before age 5. My father was born in 1914, one of the youngest of 19 children born to his parents. Eight of them died before age 5. How do you get past that?

    1. katelaity says:

      You can see why people were less sentimental about childhood in earlier ages; not to suggest that parents did not grieve, but they did not have the luxury of dwelling on it, life did not allow the space for it.

  2. These are the kind of blog posts i like .. makes me pause for thought about what it is that’s TRULY important in our lives.. loved it .. cheers

    1. katelaity says:

      Thank you, Seumas! A little bit of the homeland for you.

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