The Kirkin’ at Rural Hill is held on the Sunday morning of the Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games, in the Davidson Burial Grounds across from Historic Rural Hill at 9:00am. In case of inclement weather the service will be held in May Davidson Hall.
The church service, or “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” is a unique ceremony which takes place in many of the Scottish American communities and churches across the United States.
The First Kirkin’ was led by Dr. Peter Marshall, Scottish-born Chaplain of the U. S. Senate, who was at that time also a pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The date was April 28, 1941. Since 1954, the St. Andrews Society in Washington has directed the Kirkin’ ceremonies, held now in the National Cathedral.
During a Kirkin’ service, an array of Clan Tartans are presented for a special dedication to the heritage of the Scottish descendents in the congregation. The tartans are mostly displayed as flags or banners and carried in procession into the worship service with bagpipes. In simpler services the congregants may present smaller tartan cloths representing their own individual clan or family affiliation, placing them on an alter or communion table. A special prayer to God is normally spoken by the worship leader, a tribute to the history of clan ancestry around the world, and a rededication of all to God’s service.
Kirkin’ of the Tartan Service
9:00am Sunday in the Rural Hill Burying Ground (in the Rural Hill Cultural Center in the event of foul weather)
During a Kirkin’ service, an array of Clan Tartans are presented for a special dedication to the heritage of the Scottish descendants at the games. The tartans are mostly displayed as flags or banners and carried in procession into the worship service with bagpipes. Clan families are honored, with recently deceased members named and marked with roses before a memorial wreath. The Kirkin’ at Rural Hill is held in the Rural Hill Burying Ground across from Rural Hill on Neck Road. All are welcome to participate.
Flowers of the Forest / Closing Ceremonies
The pipe tune “Flowers of the Forest” was a soulful lament written shortly after the battle of Flodden on September 9, 1513. It was at this battle that King James IV (the “flower”) of Scottish nobility was slain. The “forest” refers to a district of Scotland called Ettrick Forest where the battle took place. The sorrow felt for lost loved ones reaches across the centuries at the close of the festival. The Flowers of the Forest ceremony is held at 4:30 at the memorial cairn close to the Rural Hill Cultural Center. This is an extremely solemn and respectful affair. All are welcome to lay a stone (any stone will do) and speak a remembrance for loved ones now passed on. After the ceremony has ended the Highland Games are officially done for the year.