"Grisly Draeden sat alane
By the cairn and Pech stane;
Billy wi' a segg sae stout,
Says - 'I'll soon turn Draeden out' -
Draeden leuch, and stalk'd awa,
And vanish'd in a babanqua."
This rhyme, which I picked up when a boy from an old man (David Donaldson), who posessed a rich collection of old sayings, songs, and rhymes, which I never heard anywhere else, evidently relates to a large cairn which was situated about half-way between two streams (Draeden and Billyburn), on the farm of Little Billy, in the parish of Buncle. The cairn was surrounded, except on the south-west side, by a circle of large whin stones, many of which would have weighed several tons. At the distance of about 200 yards to the east of this cairn stood a large block, of a reddish sort of granite, which the old man already mentioned used to call "The Altar." The cairn is now removed, but this stone still stands in its original situation.
It is probable that the circle of stones surrounding the cairn had constituted, in remote times, a place of Druidical worship: and it is also probable that the small stream, a little to the north of the site of the cairn, derives its name Draeden, from this circumstance; the affix draed being similar in sound to Druid, and den, a dean or vale - The Druid's Vale.
When a moss, which skirted this stream, was begun to be drained about twenty years ago, many pieces of oak were dug out; and I recollect of being shewn, near its northern extremity, a quagmire or babanqua, with a slit or opening in the middle of it, on which no grass or any other plant grew, owing to the constant oozing of the water from its bottom, and into which, it was said, a horse and his rider had sunk, and were never more seen.
[..] It is probable, I think, that this curious rhyme has some distant allusion to the introduction of Christianity into our island, to the discomfituer of a dark and horrid superstition, which formerly held in bondage the souls and bodies of our Pagan progenitors.
It is probable not, I think. But I do love how he spins pagan weirdness out of the elemental boggy environment. I can sympathise at least. From Mr Henderson's reporting of 'Popular Rhymes of Berwickshire' in the Scottish Journal, 1848.
Maybe as the RCAHMS record says, these are natural boulders, but they're both on high points, and it's interesting that burial sites should have (once) been so close to them.
The Pech Stane. -- This stone stands on the highest point of a ridge of moderate elevation some 700 yards south-west of Billie Mains steading and 300 yards south of the public road, in the parish of Buncle. It is of quartzite, deeply pitted in the process of weathering, and measures 4 feet in height by 4 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 6. An empty cist was found in 1897 some 20 to 30 yards west of the stone, and about 1814 a large cairn about 100 yards to the west was removed. This cairn was surrounded by a ring of large boulders, and a cist was found beneath. The stone is figured in Carr's History of Coldingham Priory, p.9, and in Muirhead's Birds of Berwickshire, vol. i, p. 314.
[..] Another stone stands on a knoll on the ridge to the south of the Lintlaw Burn. Its position is about 400 yards south by west of the Pech Stane; it is of greenstone, and measures 3 feet 3 inches in height by 3 feet 9 by 2 feet 3.
From 'History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club' v 26 (1923).
I looked in the Coldingham Priory book for the illustration, and also found -
The following fragment, for which the author is indebted to his friend Mr. George Henderson, surgeon, Chirnside, relates to the Cairn and Stone:--
Grisly Draedan sat alane
By the Cairn and Pech-stane;
Said Billie wi' a segg sae stout
I'll soon drive grisly Draedan out;
Draedan leuched and stalked awa,
Syne vanished in a babanqua.
The babanqua, or quagmire, into which these contentious streamlets flowed, was, no doubt, the now drained and cultivated Billy-mire. The rhyme Mr. Henderson picked up when a school-boy, from the recitation of an old farm-servant at Little Billy.