The Churchyard.
Collessie Churchyard has been a burial place since the 12th century. After the Reformation, when the heritors became responsible for it, they drew up rules and regulations for its use. As it was the only burial ground in the Parish until the beginning of the 20th century all parishoners and people passing through the parish had the right to be buried there. The churchyard was extended in 1840 and in1871. In 1929 the County Council took over responsibility for burials and maintenance and, although almost full, it is still in use today.

 The earliest recorded burial is in the Melville Tomb, erected by the Melville family of Halhill. Inside the stone chamber lie the remains of Sir James Melville, interred on 13th November 1617, aged 82. Sir James was a noted diplomat and courtier of Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI.          

The tomb stood derelict formore than 100 years. The roof had been lost allowing water into the structure, and vegetation grew on the walls. Restoration was organised by Collessie Community Council. They appointed Tom Morton to handle the project, which was carried out by Rebecca Little Construction. Grants were received from The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Russel Trust, The Pilgrim Trust and Historic Scotland.

 The walls were cleaned and re-pointed before being covered with a soft yellow-ochre glazed render. A new door was installed although the original lock was kept. The sandstone dressed window on the east side was revealed when a memorial panel was removed. It matches the one on the west side and both have been re-glazed.  Seven oak trusses for the roof were installed by Carpenter Oak Company of Kirriemuir. Oak hand-finished lathes cross these and stone slates are attached to them by wooden pegs. 

The restoration work was carried out in 2004. Fife Council has now taken over ownership of the tomb as well as the responsibility of maintaining it.
 
A distinctive feature is the inscription set in the south wall of the tomb, facing Kirk Brae. Sir James, an important figure at the time of the Reformation, deplored the custom of the burying of the dead within the fabric of the church. The text mentions this and also shows that Collessie was on the Medieval pilgrim route to St Andrews. The cleaning and limewash  have made it possible to decipher the words once more Written by Sir James’s daughter Elizabeth the inscription reads:- 

                              

                                            

                                                      1609                                             

                    Ye loadin pilgrims passing langs this way,
                    Pans on your fall and your offences past,
                    How your frail flesh first formit of clay,
                     In dust must be dissolvit at the last.
                    Repeat, amend, on Christ the burden cast
                    Of your sad sinnes, who can our souls refresh,
                    Syne raise from grave to gloire your grislie flesh.

                     Defyle not Christ’s kirk with your carrion
                    A solemn sait for God’s service prepar’d
                    For praier, preaching and communion,
                    Your burial should be in the kirkyaird.
                    On your uprising set your great regard
                    When soul and body joines with joy to ring
                    In heaven for ay with Christ our Head and King.

 





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