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Town Trail

Old Burial Ground (6)

Once the site of a church which was built in 1617, the Old Burial Ground has many old memorials, the oldest of which dates back to 1679. Here you will find a simple tombstone which is detailed with a wheel and an angel with an axe. This is said to be the grave of the first wheelwright in Gala. Within the grounds is the family tomb of Mungo Park, the Borders-born explorer of Africa.

Here also is the Gala Aisle, built in 1636 by Captain Hugh Scott of Gala who served in the Scots army which was allied to the English Parliamentarians in the English Civil War of the 1640s. He returned to Gala in 1644 where he died, possibly as a result of battle wounds. The Aisle was to the side of the main kirk building and there may have been one of similar size opposite. When the kirk was demolished in 1813, the side walls of the Aisle were increased by roughly two metres (almost seven feet) and the end closed off with a wall and gothic window. There is a memorial within the Aisle to the Parish Minister, Mark Duncan, who was killed at the Battle of Dunbar in 1651 while opposing Cromwell's advance into Scotland. The tablet above the window originally had the inscription


In the late 1820s, there was a gruesome trade in dead bodies (known as body snatching) which were supplied to the Medical School in Edinburgh. This was the period of Burke and Hare and the locals were determined that their graveyard would not be robbed. They organised themselves into armed patrols to keep watch over the graves. Although William Burke lived for a while in Peebles, there is no evidence that he and his partner visited Galashiels to carry out their grim work.

To the right of the Old Burial Ground is St Peter's Episcopal Church and School.

Next: St Peter's Episcopal Church & School

Mungo Park

Mungo Park Inscription

Gala Isle
Historical Background
Where to Start
(1) Scott Park
(2) Old Gala House
(3) Old Parish & St Paul's Church
(4a) The Tolbooth and Cloth Hall
(4b) The Mercat Cross
(5) Tea Street
(6) Old Burial Ground
(7) St Peter's Episcopal Church & School
(8) Burgh Buildings
(9) Public Library
(10) Market Square
(11) Church of Our Lady & St Andrew
(12) Post Office
(13) Former Co-op Building
(14) Glasite Chapel
(15) Burgh School
(16) Bank Street Gardens
(17) Volunteer Hall
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