Gravestone of Betty Corrigall

Dedicated to: 
Inscription: 

Here Lies Betty Corrigall

Erected by: 
Erected by Mr Harry Berry on behalf of the community
Designed by: 
Mr Harry Berry
Date: 
1976
Material: 
Fibre-glass was used as the peaty ground would not support the weight of stone.
Location:
Hoy, Orkney
Images: 
Close up of Betty Corrigall's grave stone
Close up of Betty Corrigall's grave stone
Close up of Betty Corrigall's grave stone
Additional information: 

Betty Corrigall was a young woman who lived in the parish of North Walls on the island of Hoy in about 1770. Some online sources state that she lived in a cottage called Greengears, which lies between Mill Burn and Rysa Lodge, but according to an old local woman (who grew up at Greengears) Betty actually lived at a small nearby croft called Little Cletts. There is nothing left of this croft now but an old variety of daffodils still flower where the doorway must once have stood.

When she was 27 (some say 17?) Betty was abandoned by her man (some say he was a passing sailor) who left her pregnant and unmarried. She decided to take her own life; her first attempt to drown herself failed but a few days later she hung herself.

As she had committed suicide she was not allowed to be buried on consecrated (church) ground and the local Laird would not allow her to be buried in the parish. It was decided that she would be buried on the boundry between the parishes of North Walls and Hoy, near the Water of Hoy, far from any houses.

She lay there in an unmarked grave until she was discovered by two local men cutting peats in 1933. When her wooden coffin was opened it is said that she lay perfectly preserved inside. After being reported to the Procurator Fiscal Betty was reburied in the same spot.

She was disturbed again in 1941 by soldiers rebuilding the road. Due to the practice of the soldiers repeatedly coming to look at her remains she was moved 50 metres and her coffin was placed under a slab of concrete.

In 1949 an American minister, Kenwood Bryant, erected a wooden cross and small wooden fence. He asked local Customs and Excise Officer Harry Berry to erect a more fitting gravestone but it was to be some years before this was done.

Finally one evening in 1967 the present gravestone was erected and a quiet burial service was said for her.

Sources: http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/historicalfigures/bettycorrigall/index....

and local knowledge as I grew up not far from Betty's croft at Little Cletts.