The words ‘murder stones” might suggest many different things – stones used to commit murder, stones used to kill a murderer, somethings to be used in ritual magic, dangerous stones… actually, they are grave stones or memorial stones which commemorate people who have been murdered, and you can find them particularly in Wales.
I know some people don’t like churchyards or graveyards but I find them interesting and fascinating places – even graves commemorating people I have no connection with. The gravestone can often tell a story, or can sometimes tell just part of a story:
I came across a grave, marking the resting place of Mary Dimmer, beloved wife of George who had sadly died young, at the age of thirty-three. On the back of the memorial stone was the inscription to Emily Dimmer, beloved wife of George who had died in 1887, aged twenty-one… What a great misfortune for George, to lose two wives at such a young age… but why on Emily’s grave was the inscription ‘Yes! Yes!’?
Gravestones can also lead you to find out about people… wandering in the graveyard of our hilltop church of St Nicholas, I came across a memorial to Frank Froest, .the police officer who was involved in the arrest of Dr Crippen, the man who murdered his wife for love of a young woman.
Now he was involved in murder – the solving of it rather than committing it. But murder stones… I came across an interesting article on the BBC which led me to a site which gave me more information. The purpose of this type of memorial was not just to commemorate the sad end t someone’s life, but to call to retribution the person who committed the crime; ‘Stones bearing tragic accounts of family – murders and other catastrophic events are by no means uncommon but “murder stones”, with an appeal to conscience, have a completely different purpose.’ It was hoped that if uncaught, the murderer might read the words and be wrought with conscience and confess. A secondary aim was to be a warning to others of violent inclination.’
This is an example:
Margaret Williams church of St Catwg Cadoxton 1823
To record Murder this stone was erected over the body of Margaret Williams aged 26 , a native of Carmarthenshire, living in service in this parish who was found dead with marks of violence on her person In a ditch on the marsh below this churchyard on the morning of Sunday the fourteenth of July 1823
You can find out more here:
and here is the BBC article:
These tragic memorials have given me an idea for the novel I am writing now… it will need some pondering though… murder stones…