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

4 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.

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