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Norrie's Law


<b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrandImage © nickbrand
Nearest Town:Leven (7km S)
OS Ref (GB):   NO409073 / Sheet: 59
Latitude:56° 15' 16.08" N
Longitude:   2° 57' 14.37" W

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<b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by Rhiannon <b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrand <b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrand <b>Norrie's Law</b>Posted by nickbrand


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Norrie's Law is a bronze age grave mound, occupying the highest point of a natural ridge or hillock of sand and gravel. Objects are said to have been found in a stone coffin within this "Tumulus". An article in The East of Fife Record dated June 16th 1882 tells us of the Discovery of the Norrie's Law hoard and that they appeared to have been found around 1819. The hoard is said to have consisted of a full suit of armour with helmet, shield, sword handle and scabbard which were entirely made of silver. This hoard was reputedly dug up by a local tinker who went on to sell his finds to a local jeweller, Mr Robert Robertson in Cupar for various sums of money, the silver was melted down. However, in the article the local historian of the period Dr Laing, gives us an earlier date of 1817 which tallies with that of Mr Albert Way who catalogued the few remaining pieces for an exhibition at the Archaeological institute of Great Britain. We are told the person who purloined the valuable hoard still resided in Pitlessie in good circumstances, free of the attentions of the exchequer to claim the fruits of his ill gotten wealth and that he naturally declines much communication on the subject. Some of the finds from Norrie's Law can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street Edinburgh. Posted by big sandy
16th July 2002ce


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Robert Chambers had another explanation for the hill (related in his 'Picture of Scotland' of 1827).

Michael Scot was an infamous magician in these parts - and he had three demons who served him: Prig, Prim and Pricker. They were such a nuisance that he had to keep them continually busy. After he'd got them to cleft the Eildon Hills and bridle the Tweed with a curb of stone, he got them twisting ropes of sand. And when they'd done that, he commanded them to level Largo Law. However, they'd only just started - chucking one shovelful, which landed to form Norrie's Law - when they were called away to do something else.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd April 2004ce
Edited 23rd April 2004ce

This story was recorded in Robert Chambers's ' Popular Rhymes of Scotland.'
In the first edition of that work (1826) Chambers recorded a tradition, which he had taken down the preceding year, to the effect that it was supposed by the people who lived in the neighbourhood of Largo Law, in Fife, that there was a very rich mine of gold under and near the mountain, and they were so convinced of the truth of this story, that whenever they saw the wool of a sheep's side tinged with yellow, they thought it had acquired that colour from having lain above the gold of the mine.

A great many years ago a ghost made its appearance on the spot, supposed to be laden with the secret of the mine, and Chambers proceeds to tell the story of a shepherd who plucked up courage to accost it, and received the following reply to his demand to learn the reason of the spectre's presence:—

If Auchindownie cock disna craw,
And Balmain horn disna blaw,
I'll tell ye where the Gowd mine is in Largo Law.

Not a cock was left alive at the farm of Auchindownie, but man was more difficult to control, for just as the ghost appeared, ready to divulge the secret, Tammie Norrie, the cow-herd of Balmain, heedless of all injunctions to the contrary, " blew a blast both loud and dread," on which the ghost immediately vanished, after exclaiming :—

Woe to the man who blew the horn,
For out of the spot he shall ne'er be borne.

In fulfilment of this denunciation the unfortunate horn-blower was struck dead upon the spot, and it being found impossible to remove his body, which seemed, as it were, pinned to the earth, a cairn of stones was raised over it, which, grown into a green hillock, was denominated Norrie's Law and for long was regarded as uncanny by the common people. But it appears that in 1810 a man digging sand at Norrie's Law found a cist or stone coffin containing a suit of scale-armour, with shield, sword-handle, and scabbard, all of silver.

This discovery was recorded by Chambers in later editions of his work, in which it is further stated that the finder kept the secret until nearly the whole of the pieces had been disposed of to a silversmith at Cupar; but on one of the few that remain it is remarkable to find the " spectacle ornament," crossed by the so-called " broken sceptre," thus indicating a great though uncertain antiquity.
Redescribed in N+Q Aug 17, 1901.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th October 2003ce
Edited 8th February 2008ce