Betty Corrigall’s Grave

Betty Corrigall’s Grave is reputed to be the loneliest in the UK, yet probably one of the most visited in the Orkney Islands.

Young Betty fell under the spell of a passing sailor. Single and pregnant was not acceptable in her day and she was determined to take her own life, her first attempt by walking into the sea to drown was interrupted by the villagers but a few days later she hung herself. Betty’s trials and tribulations did not, unfortunately end with her death; the Lairds of Hoy & Melsetter did not want the responsibility of a suicide and she was buried in unhallowed ground beyond the parish borders.

Betty’s simple grave has been disturbed several times and in 1949 a visiting American, the Reverend Kenwood, gave her a proper service and secured a promise from the local Customs & Excise officer, Harry Berry, to erect a headstone.

In 1976 the headstone was finally constructed, although of fibre glass due to the boggy and peaty ground which will not support the weight of traditional stonework.

The simple white headstone reads:
Here lies Betty Corrigall

8 thoughts on “Betty Corrigall’s Grave

  1. This is a an ancestor of mine. My nanny was wilimena corrigal. We always knew the story. My man lived in London cottage in orkney. I’m hoping to go visit this year xx

    • That’s fascinating you are related. We visited the grave about 10 years ago. The remoteness and the almost constant rainy weather makes it feel even sadder. Our friends live in Kirkwall so we have been privileged to be able to visit.strongly recommend you go if you can. Hoy has other things ie the old man of hoy ect.

  2. I visited Betty’s’ grave on my visit to beautiful Hoy. It was a lovely day, but the grave and the remoteness was quite eerie and extremely sad. It’s a terribly sad story. Poor girl. As you walk away and look back at the bright white grave in the heath like surroundings, it’s almost like she is asking you to stay. A lonely and sad place.

  3. I totally agree with Cheri York’s comments about the whole environment around poor Betty’s grave making you feel as if she wants you (or indeed, anyone) to stay with her, as she rests in such an isolated and eerie place.
    Surely, in this day and age, it should not be beyond a band of decent Orcadians, for them to find a hallowed resting place for Betty, in a proper cemetery – and simply leave a monument to where she now lies – depicting the sheer cruelty and unGodliness of some folk from the past.

  4. We have live on mainland Orkney for 6 years and every time we visit Hoy we pass Betty in her lonely resting place and it acts as a reminder to treat other folk as equal and to.consider the poor folk who are placed into such awful dilemma as to consider ending their life. an the prejudices we still carry under our ordered lives. In many ways little has changed since then.
    Disabled folk, gay folk, anyone different. Or of the wrong religion to us.

  5. Thisis the second timei have cycled past Betty’s grave and both times I have grieved for her and said a lonely prayer fir her. She deserved more in life and much more humanity in death. The sinners in this world are not the Betty’s but the religious hypocrites and so called religious peoples, they should be ashamed. I hope Betty finaly found rest and peace, she has my loving thoughts from both my visits.

  6. Saw this lady’s grave two years ago when visiting Hoy. Surely Betty deserves a better resting place within a cemetry somewhere on the island. The quality of the fence and headstone leave a lot to be desired.
    Time Orkney Council did the right thing and gave Betty a proper burial.

  7. Very sad and interesting I will think and remember this sad moment always I hope and wish Betty peace and rest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.