In 1979, I was eight years old and our family traveled overseas to stay with my mother’s family in her hometown in southern Scotland. It’s a very small town that sits in a valley, though my grandmother lived up a long, steep road in one of a row of houses that overlooked the town. Behind her house was a large field with cows, then behind that another field with some horses. Beyond that the landscape slowly turned into a very large wooded area. The road next to my grandmother’s house was very narrow and at one point veered off into a trail that meandered through the woods. Our entire family would start the day by taking walks up this narrow road, then into the woods. We would usually walk for around 45 minutes or so before turning back.
One sunny morning, while walking through these woods, I got into a mood because I felt ignored, and decided to hang back, I suppose to get some attention from the adults when they eventually would discover me missing. While walking alone, I came upon a small cemetery on the left-hand side of the trail, which oddly I’d never noticed before. It was literally on the side of the trail, not in a field next to the trail. It was about 10 feet wide and roughly 25 to 30 feet in length.
I decided to walk through the headstones, and was very affected because I remember that 80 or 90 percent of the dead were children my own age or younger. I clearly remember that the dates on the stones were all roughly around the early 1800s.
I ran to catch up with my family to tell them of my discovery, but they didn’t seem all that interested. I do remember being very confused while walking home because I couldn’t find the graveyard on our way back, and there was only the one trail. I always remembered that, for whatever reason.
Ten years ago, while visiting the town, I was speaking to a family friend about the incident I’d experienced 20 years earlier, and he assured me he’d lived in the town his whole life had walked those hills a thousand times and was not aware of any cemetery ever being there. Also, I did notice in the town’s main cemetery while visiting my now-deceased grandmother’s grave that even graves from World War 2-era burials suffered a lot of weather damage and it was difficult to make out the date of birth and death. The graves I had seen had inscriptions that were very easy to read, and I remember this clearly because the thing that captivated me was the young age of the dead.
I now think that I possibly experienced a time shift and saw a cemetery from a time when infant mortality was very high — or maybe the cemetery itself was a ghost.