On the farm of Clerkston, in the parish of Lesmahagow, there had existed since creation an immense stone, or saxum, which, being deeply bedded in the middle of a good field, at a great distance from any other rocks, was productive of infinite inconvenience to the husbandman, and defrauded the proprietor of a considerable portion of territory.p68 in 'The Popular Rhymes of Scotland' by Robert Chambers (1826).
Beneath this stone, it was believed by the country people of the last generation, that there was secreted a vast treasure, in the shape of "a kettle-full, a boot-full, and a bull-hide-full," of gold; all which got the ordinary name, reason unknown, of "katie Neevie's hoord." The credibility of this popular tradition was attested by a rhyme to the following effect:--
Between Dillerhill and Crossfoord,
Here Lies Katie Neevie's Hoord.
Many efforts had been made, according to the gossips, to remove the stone, and get at the treasure; but all were baffled by the bodily appearance of the enemy of mankind, who, by breathing intolerable flame in the faces of those making the attempt, obliged them to desisted. Thus well guarded, the legacy of Mrs. Katherine Niven lay for centuries as snug as if it had been deposited in Chancery; and it was not till at least an hundred years after the last despairing effort had been made that the charm was at length broke.
Mr James Prentice, the present farmer of Clerkston, had the address to convince several Irishmen, who had served him during the harvest, of the truth of the said rhyme; and, by expatiating upon the supposed immensity of the treasure, wrought up their curiosity and their cupidity to such a pitch, that they resolved, with his permission, to break the stone in pieces, and make themselves master of whatever might be found below. On the day after the kirn, therefore, the poor fellows provided themselves with a well-loaded gun, for the protection of their persons from the Devil, and fell to work, with punches and mallets, to blow up and utterly destroy the huge stone which alone intervened between them and everlasting affluence.
They laboured the whole day, without provoking any visit from Satan, and at last succeeded in fairly eradicating the stone from the field which it had so long encumbered; when they became at once convinced of the fallacy of the rhyme, of the craft of Mr. Prentice, and of their own deluded credulity.
Posted by Rhiannon
15th April 2009ce