Ship’s captain, master mariner, rope maker and flax dresser; the inscriptions, embellished with swooping curves or running awkwardly to the stone edge, give snapshots of long gone lives.
Berwick is still an active port but today only a handful of small fishing boats tie up at the town quay while four or five cargo ships a week call at Tweedmouth dock. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the life of the town revolved around the docks, the grain trade and the salmon fisheries. An 1852 town plan (click here) shows the streets around the port busy with warehouses, granaries, smithies and shipping offices as well as many public houses.
Berwick’s Customs House had a prominent position overlooking the Quay Walls but collecting import tax wasn’t simply a matter of waiting for traders to pay their dues. In the angle of the church walls a weathered stone commemorates Lieutenant George Mills, commander of HM Revenue cruiser Stork, one of the light, fast ships that patrolled the coast trying to intercept smugglers. The next stone is inscribed ‘In memory of John Hill Esq. Collector of Customs..’ Maybe the smugglers are remembered in a less prominent part of the churchyard.
The stone that first caught my eye is that of ‘William Hughson of the Island of Shetland who died Nov. 1st 1791 Aged 29 years’. A young seafarer far from home.
By chance the photos in this post link with the Lens-Artists challenge Weathered or Worn.