In the cemetery of Kirkcaldy Old Kirk there is a very strange gravestone. Its two sides each have a different dedication, commemorating deaths separated by some twenty years. One side is dedicated by his brother to a man who was buried at sea in 1808. The other side names a relation through marriage. Previous efforts have not succeeded in piecing together the whole story, but it was thought that the key might lie in the four-line inscription located on the top of the stone. Its position, however, has meant greater exposure to the elements and left it extremely difficult to read.
A conversation between Rosemary Potter of Kirkcaldy Civic Society and Sue Hamstead of SWACS led to the idea of trying out on the stone the Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) technique that has been used to great effect on the carvings in the Wemyss Caves. This involves taking dozens of photographs using a hand-held flash shone at different angles.
So last Saturday people from both our societies gathered to put the idea into practice. We took and processed multiple photos, and although the lines of the inscription are not instantly readable they do show up more clearly than when seen under normal conditions. Also, they can now be studied on screen and in comfort rather than in the pouring rain as it was for us on Saturday!
If you want to try to work out the inscription for yourself, you can see an online version at the link below – any suggestions we’ll pass on to Kirkcaldy Civic Society.