IN 1827, the laird of Tillicoultry was Robert Wardlaw Ramsay.

It was a time in Scottish history when the resurrectionists were more than happy to dig up the newly buried dead to sell to local anatomists for dissection.

News of Burke and Hare had spread to the countryside and more locally James McNab had hit the headlines in Stirling for digging up the grave of Mary Stevenson for a medical student five years earlier.

Incidents like these led to watch towers were being erected over many graveyards and a proposal was made for one to be built at the old kirkyard in Tillicoultry, which was then part of the Tillicoultry Estate, and sits at the top of Fir Park.

A meeting was held, and Ramsay gave his permission, and offered financial assistance, for the erection of a stone and lime building to be erected in a suitable corner of the cemetery where a watchman could keep an eye on the dead.

Those who owned the graves were already in fear of their loved ones being exhumed as in Dollar the resurrectionists had already struck, causing fear and alarm in Tillicoultry.

However, the idea did not go down as well as expected. A local man, a few weeks earlier, had been fined by the laird in his capacity of Justice of the Peace for poaching and he, perhaps out of spite, had drummed up support to reject the offer.

The people felt they had the right to construct a building of their own, which would be transportable and placed over any new burial site requiring its protection.

They also believed the laird had no jurisdiction over the burial ground as they owned certain graves themselves.

Unbeknown to Ramsay, at the time of the meeting, the locals had secretly built a wooden hut that came in manageable pieces, measuring five feet square, that could be easily and quickly assembled.

One morning, Ramsay had opened his bedroom curtains and saw this crude structure, fully operational in the churchyard, and in full view of his house.

Standing on its four legs over a new burial, smoke was billowing out of its chimney as the watchman did his work. Ramsay was having none of it.

The case ended up at the Sheriff Court but not having a satisfactory outcome there, the case was referred to the Court of Session.

In the end the people's hut was not allowed to guard over the graves.

However, it is believed no bodies were ever targeted by the resurrectionists at the old cemetery.