The Kempock Stone
A Bronze Age Standing Stone, dating from about 2000 B.C.
This is the famous ‘Lang Stane’ of Gourock, more familiarly spoken of as ‘Granny Kempock’ … It is supposed that the Kempock Stane marks the site in Druid times of an altar to Baal …
However that may be, the Kempock Stane was for many centuries an object of superstitious awe and reverence … Marriages in the District were not regarded as lucky unless the wedded pair passed round the ‘lang stane’ and obtained in this way Granny Kempock’s blessing …
It was chiefly in connection with the winds and the sea that the Kempock Stane was regarded with superstitious dread … sailors and fishermen were wont to take a basketful of sand from the shore and walk seven times round Granny Kempock, chanting a weird song to insure for themselves a safe and proseperous voyage.
quote from Rev. D. Macrae, “Notes about Gourock”, 1880
"Newly married couples would walk round the stone in order to ensure good luck and fortune in their marriage. This was also done at the Granny Kempock Stone at Kempock Point near Gourock. This is a six foot tall stone and, traditionally, couples and fishermen would walk round it seven times, carrying a basket of sand. It was believed that this would bring good winds and catches for the fishermen and success and happiness for the newly weds. In 1662 Mary Lawmont (or Lamont) was accused, with other women, of attempting to throw the Kempock Stone into the Clyde as part of a charge of witchcraft. Some of the women confessed that they intended to destroy boats and ships by this act. The women were not successful, and were most likely executed."
There is a huge stone at one end of the village of Gourock, where a saint of the name of Kempock formerly kept a shop for the sale of winds to sailors.
At this place the modern navigators of the Clyde leave their mistresses, when bound on distant voyages.
Running the church as a business? whatever next.
From p17 of 'A Picture of Scotland' by Robert Chambers (1828) - scanned in at Google Books.
Also known as Granny Kempock and Granny Kempock's stone, this 6ft megalith was once a landmark to ships passing Kempock point. Now it's surrounded by buildings and probably can't be seen from the sea?
The sailors didn't just use it as a landmark; they would visit it for luck.
"It was chiefly in connection with the winds and sea that the Kempock Stane was regarded with superstitious dread … sailors and fishermen were wont to take a basketful of sand from the shore and walk seven times round Granny Kempock, chanting a weird song to insure for themselves a safe and prosperous voyage."
Rev. D. Macrae, "Notes about Gourock", 1880.
Marie Lamont was burned in 1662 after confessing to having attended a sabbat of witches intending to throw the stone into the estuary. Let's face it she'd probably have admitted to anything in the circumstances (including, as she did, turning into a cat). And besides, by the sound of it she'd have been doing Christians a favour by getting rid of all of its attendent weirdness. She'd also have stopped another custom the church surely didn't like (mentioned by Macrae) - that of newly wedded couples taking a turn around the stone for luck in their marriage.
And Macrae also knew of the belief that the stone revolved three times on the stroke of midnight. Perhaps the stone would even come alive:"On Hogmanay night it was one of the freaks of the Gourock lads to go and array Granny Kempock in shawl, mutch, and apron, that she might appear in dress on New Year's morning."