Syracuse University Students Visit Tundergarth Iconic Sites

Ian McLatchie Lori Carnochan, Becca Farnum, Kirsty Boardman and Syracuse University London students inside Tundergarth Church

Visiting students from Syracuse University London at Tundergarth Church and (front Row L-R) Ian McLatchie, TKT Trustee; Becca Farnum, PhD, SU London Assistant Director for Teaching & Learning; Lori Carnochan, Interim TKT Chair; Kirsty Boardman, TKT Trustee.

During a weekend visit, 19 Syracuse University students from its London campus toured iconic sites near Lockerbie, Scotland’s Tundergarth Church and learned why it is such a sacred and significant place to so many.

The former Church of Scotland structure, built in 1900, is adjacent to the field where the nose cone of Pan Am 103 crashed after a terrorist attack on December 21, 1988. A total of 270 people died aboard the Boeing 747, including 35 Syracuse students en route home for the Christmas holidays. All 259 passengers and crew on board were killed in the bombing, as well as 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground.

Lori Carnochan, the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Legacy Foundation’s project manager and interim chair of the Tundergarth Kirks Trust, hosted the students from the Syracuse London campus and their lead teacher, Dr. Becca Farnum. Fellow trustee and Lockerbie resident Kirsty Boardman also answered questions.

Their tour began inside Tundergarth Church, bought in 2020 by the Tundergarth Kirks Trust. Students were shown the beautiful stained glass windows, the stunning architecture and stonemasonry. They also learned about the major winter storm that caused significant damage to the structure both inside and out, with trustee Ian McLatchie providing details about the repair project. Massive scaffolding has been erected in order to begin the repairs which include roofing and repointing work.

Scaffolding at Tundergarth Church
Scaffolding at Tundergarth Church - Closeup

Syracuse students visited the Remembrance Room, which was opened in 1990 as a memorial to those killed in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. The room is currently operated by the Tundergarth Kirks Trust and has been developed into a modern and tranquil place of remembrance.

In partnership with the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Legacy Foundation, the Trust earlier unveiled a set of six colored banners showing headshots of almost every victim.

The room houses two computers that allow visitors to become educated about the attack, observe the Living Memorial pages (where every victim has a biography), and leave tributes to loved ones. The Syracuse students’ visit to the Remembrance Room visibly moved them, with their words echoing off the walls, to include “beautiful,” “peaceful,” and “poignant.”

Outside they viewed the site of the 1771 Old Kirk Ruins. Here they learned about the ambitious plans to create the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Legacy Museum. The museum will serve as a dedicated space to commemorate those who were killed and educate visitors about the bombing. It will also be a place where stories can be shared from the incredible townsfolk who worked during the terrorist attack’s aftermath, from hometown heroes, and from survivors. The museum will be a blend of historic and contemporary exhibits and will celebrate the former church’s rich past.

The students also heard about the site’s archaeological interest, with some experts suggesting that a medieval church may lie beneath the foundations. The site is currently owned by the Dumfries and Galloway Council, but it is in the process of being transferred to the Tundergarth Kirks Trust as part of a Community Asset Transfer, along with the Remembrance Room. 

Lori Carnochan, Interim Chair of Tundergarth Kirks Trust speaks to group of Syracuse University Students about Tundergarth's Iconic Sites

Syracuse London students also visited the graves of John Binning Cummock, Helga Rachael Mosey, and Tomas Floro Van Tienhoven, the three Pan Am 103 victims who are buried at the Tundergarth cemetery.

Mr. McLatchie and Ms. Carnochan joined Syracuse University London students, the Right Honorable David Mundell, Member of Parliament, and Stuart Cossar, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for a reception at the Somerton Hotel. Before returning to London, students climbed atop one of the region’s most iconic landmarks, Grey Mare Tail.

Ms. Carnochan described Syracuse University as “the gold standard” in terms of its efforts to remember the 1988 Pan Am 103 terrorist bombing.

“This visit has really strengthened our relationship with the students and university, to ensure our combined history is never forgotten,” she said.

In the years following the terrorist attack — still the deadliest in UK history and the second deadliest against America — an exchange program was also established between Syracuse University and Lockerbie Academy.

Each year, two students from Lockerbie Academy spend a term studying at Syracuse, where they strengthen connections between the two communities. Every year since 1990, 35 Syracuse University students have been chosen as Remembrance Scholars in honor of the victims.

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