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CHURCHES and GRAVEYARDS in Dumfries and Galloway
Martyrs' gravestones
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The monument below, a granite block cairn and pillar, marks the traditional site of the martyrdom in May 1685 of two local Covenanter women for their refusal to take oaths demanded by the Test Act.
Tradition tells how Margaret McLachlan, an elderly woman in her 60's, and Margaret Wilson, a teenager, were sentenced to be tied to stakes on the merse at Wigtown Bay to be drowned by the incoming tide. Margaret McLachlan, was staked further out, the ploy being that the younger Margaret might be persuaded to change her mind and take the oaths on seeing the fate of her companion.

All attempts to persuade the younger Margaret  to change her mind failed and despite a tall dragoon being ordered to hold her head up she too was drowned. This barbaric execution was carried out by dragoons under the command of Major Windram in the presence of Sir Robert Grierson of Lag who held the King's Commission to suppress the rebels in the South West. Their story, as told in various sources, tells how the women were betrayed by an informer. After about a month in prison they were tried as rebels and sentenced to death by drowning.

Even today there is a degree of controversy over the above detail and some writers have gone as far as argued that the events never actually occurred. At this place in time it is hard to determine the whole truth. Many Covenanter stories are known to have been enthusiastically 'improved' in there telling over the years. Readers are left to make up their own minds.  

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Today this area has silted over and is now a vast merse (salt marsh).

The board walk provides easy and dry access to the site.

View over this vast merse to the Minnigaff Hills with Cairnsmore of Fleet dominating the skyline.
This mountain is the site of many modern tragedies claiming many an aircraft in the WWII period.

Martyrs' gravestones
page 1 page 2 page 3 notes page 4 page 5
Last Revised September 11, 2008