Gypsy Wedding Place
The Gypsy Wedding Place lies near the junction of the A815 and B839 Hell's Glen road from Lochgoilhead.
The place was marked by a set of white quartz stones which were set into the surface of the road in the shape of a heart, marking a traditional spot where weddings were carried out. Local information suggests that many years ago, c. 1928, the road was resurfaced by the local council, covering the heart, and that strong objections from the Gypsy community led to the heart being uncovered.
It has been suggested the heart was originally an area of turf, with the (26) white quartz stones being added later. One story suggests the heart was created by Traveller women to commemorate their men who had died in the 1745 Jacobite uprising.
During the 1970s, the council widened and realigned the road, resulting in the section of road which contained the heart being bypassed, and the section of old road containing the heart became isolated within a field adjacent to the new road.
Gypsies, Tinkers, or Travellers have all but disappeared from the roads of Scotland. Even their former organised sites have been abandoned in many cases, as the pressures of modern life and communities encroach on their customs through changes in legislation, and action by a very few militant Traveller groups (generally in England it must be said).
Researchers have found that the local community also used the site. According to Historic Environment Scotland (HES) a minister from Lochgoilhead travelled to the site to carry out a christening there around 1850, and the Argyll-based community group Here We Are Project, tells of a marriage carried out there in 1872 between John Luke and Isabella Brodie, also by a minister from Lochgoilhead. It was also said to have been a place where meeting were held by Travellers, and deals made. More recently, ashes are said to have been scattered there.
A visit to the site carried out during April 2007 found the the heart in its original condition as described, in a field near the road junction. At the time, the heart was covered by two pallets which appeared to have been placed there to provide some protection from cattle grazing in the field, which could have trampled and damaged the remains underfoot. The suggest that site is being actively cared for, although it is not known if it is ever used for its original purpose.
Returning to the site during July 2008 showed that a heavy metal chain had been hung around the area of the heart, supported by three substantial metal stanchions bolted into the ground. Quartz crystals were observed to have been placed on the top of each stanchion, a move taken to ward off evil.
A further visit was carried out a few weeks later, during August, when it was found that the chain link fence had failed, and was lying on the ground.
A check during October 2008 found that the chain had been removed and replaced by a rabbit wire fence, reinforced with fencing wire.
In March 2008, the Dunoon Observer carried a significant article regarding an item discussed at a recent meeting of Argyll & Bute Council. This referred to a project intended to preserve the location and provide proper access, with an estimated budget of £34,500 for the works involved. The article gave the local name for the site as the Tinkers' Heart, and noted the date of the original road works as April 1928, at which time Lady George Campbell (a grand daughter of James Wadman Alexander, and who married the fourth son of the eighth Duke of Argyll in 1879) was pressing for the site to be protected.
It may be significant that much of the discussion centred on the naming of the site. Referred to as the Gypsies' Heart in the council report (as researched by council officers), councillors considered that the name should be Tinkers' Heart, as they considered the term Tinker, rather than Gypsy, to be in colloquial use in Scotland. The term is not a derogatory, and one account of its origin is from the sound associated with the travellers as the pots, pans and cutlery they carried, and traditionally mended, made a tinkling sound as they moved, leading first to the name of Tinkler, which became simplified to Tinker over time.
Following publication of the council funded plan to upgrade the site, which also appeared in the Argyllshire Standard, it seems that locals were concerned with regard to the amount of money the local council was planning to spend on the preservation project and decided to upgrade the site at their own expense.
Following the successful completion of the local upgrade to the site, the original restoration plan proposed by the council was not pursued further.
A visit in September 2008 found that the chain lying on the ground, allowing cattle to wander over the area of the heart.
A subsequent news report revealed that there had been some error in the installation which had resulted to the failure of the enclosure, and that this had been rectified to prevent any recurrence, and the site restored.
A visit to the site in October 2008, found that the chain link fence had been replaced by rabbit wire metal mesh, reinforced by fencing wire.
2015 Protection granted
Campaigns to have the site protected were initially rejected by Historic Scotland, but campaigners petitioned the Scottish Government and gained the support of MSPs on Holyroodís Public Petitions Committee, and won protection from development on the site, which is on private land, as it was subsequently granted monument status.
White stones protected by pallets
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