Syre Church, Strath Naver, Scotland
(Saghair in Scottish Gaelic)
This simple Highland Church was erected in the 19th century. The construction is of corrugated iron sheets a style and often described as a ‘Wee Tiny’. Not only is it small but also isolated in this wild highland location. Not even a handful of crofts surround the church but certainly in times gone by it was a more important crofting community spread over Strath Naver.
The interior is equally as simple but well maintained by, I guess, a congregation of perhaps 25. (That is my estimate by counting the service books)
The walls wood lined to provide a little insulation from winters colds.
Crofting in these Highlands has always been tough but the area has suffered much hardship imposed by others that have decimated the community. The notorious Highland Clearances of 1814 resulted in evictions and the burning of crofts in the interest of the Duke of Sutherland. It was brutal by any standards and the scar of these actions still run deep in Scottish history. Surprisingly some came through the experience and a community began to re-establish itself.
But tragedy was to strike not once but twice again. Tragedy that is perhaps appropriate to be remembered on this Remembrance Sunday.
This simple Memorial stands in commemoration of those from this small community who gave their lives in the two World Wars.
What is so poignant is to read all the names that are inscribed on the sides of this Granite column. There are so many that the number of names of young men must represent, if not the majority of those living in Syre, enough to make their loss totally devastating. Local stories suggest that many of those that were called to duty had never ever travelled beyond the reach of their community…. so one has to wonder at just how they coped with the trauma of being so far from home and facing the brutal conflicts of war. It all seems so out of context for such a peaceful community in this isolated Glen.
We have War Memorials all over the UK and today services will be held to commemorate those that gave their lives in both World Wars and other Conflicts. Every life lost is recorded. But somehow this isolated Memorial seemed to me to represent the futility of War more than most.
No doubt this Rememberance Sunday there will be a number of crofters at Syre, gathering to remembering their own young men.
13th November. Remembrance Sunday
(C) David Oakes 2016