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Aedh, the grandson of Shaw ‘Bucktooth’, settled at Tordarroch in 1468. Occupying a strategic site above the fort on the River Nairn, he and his followers became a powerful force in their own right, known as Clan Aedh or Ay. While the Shaws, or Clan Ay, were consolidating their power in Strathnairn, the chief of Mackintosh was murdered in 1524, leaving an infant son, William. To the outrage of the local chiefs, the Earl of Moray seized the boy, allegedly as his guardian. Clan Chattan retaliated against Moray, and Alan Ciar MacIain led Clan Ay in raiding the earl’s lands. Heavy fines forced Alan Ciar to sell the feu of Rothiemurchus to the Earl of Huntly.
'A lofty hill over which the boundary between this parish from that of Auchindoir. It derives its name from the following incident, when the of Lord Arthur Forbes commonly called 'Black Arthur' was being carried over this hill for internment in Kearn Church Yard. The bearers rested on this hill during a snow storm. There is no cairn as the name would imply on or about the hill.'
(They rested the coffin near where the trig point is nowadays. The cairn is some 70 meters to the south east.)
Back to Kintockrat. During the plague (bubonic) the people still had to continue selling their produce, with as little contact with plague victims as possible. It was decided to have a weekly market and Kintockrat became the trading area, but with the proviso that, as in other parts of the country, no contact would be made with the citizens of Brechin. Miss Knox (former owner) showed me an ancient cairn covered with copper coloured leaves from the surrounding birch trees. This had been left as a monument to the dreaded plague. Here country people would leave their produce, laid out around the cairn and a grassy space it. An ancient path is still evident leading to and from the area. A receptacle would have been left, probably one of the many stone bowls at Kintockrat, and the Brechiners would select the goods required and deposit their coins as payment in the stone receptacles. Whether water or any other means of attempting to sterilise the coins was used, e.g passing through flame, is unknown. The beautiful glade and large copper birch trees around it was a lovely are and of course one's memory goes back to the poor people who suffered long ago.
Brechin. The Ancient City.
The Erskine family and the Dun estate were a symbol of authority in the area. As you pass along the main drive and look to the right you might notice the small fenced-off area known as the Gallows Knowe.
The National Trust Of Scotland cares for the Gallows Knowe so that people can continue to give it new meanings linking the past, present and future. Gallows Knowe was built 3,500-4,500 years ago as a burial sound. Since then, people have thought about it in different ways and put it to different uses. The mound has played a role in community identity, power and authority. It has also been a symbol of the rights of certain people to call this place their own.
In the medieval period, the Gallows Knowe may have been used as a place of execution for the crimes of theft and manslaughter. The tradition that the mound was the for the medieval Barony of Dun was recorded by 19th century surveyors mapping the countryside around the House Of Dun. The Barony was a large territory administered by the Lord Of Dun. Gallows Knowe may have been chosen because it lay very close to Dun Castle, the lord's seat of power. The mound is also highly visible from the public road from Montrose. It would have been an obvious warning to passers-by of the punishment awaiting wrong-doers.
The medieval Baron may also have been held there. This was a sort of parliament and court of law. It sorted minor disputes between neighbours as well as passing judgement on more serious crimes. Monuments like Gallows Knowe were often used for important gatherings in medieval times and they provided impressive settings for ceremonies. Their association with an ancient, unknown past, meant they were seen as very powerful places.
Search Scotland - House Of Dun 2011.
The Horned God
The horned god was the ancient pagan god of fertility. He was often half animal and half human. The Celts called him Vernunnus. He had the head of a stag and the body of a man.
When Christianity came to Britain the god of fertility was transformed into the Devil. His nickname 'Auld Hornie' is a link back to this older belief in the horned god.
(One of the stories found on various posts near the path.)
Local tradition associates this hill with the infamous 'James Of The Hill'. This was the name given to James Grant, a member of the local gentry who committed murder in Elgin in the 18th century. He became a bandit renowned for his cunning and intelligence, as well as his ferocity. Eventually he was captured and imprisoned at Edinburgh Castle, from where, with the help of his wife, he made a daring escape. After further adventure in Ireland, James was given a Royal pardon for his many crimes.
A small knoll partly destroyed in the flood of 1829, called Lord Auchindown's cairn, marks the spot where Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindoun is said to have died after the battle of Glenlivet in 1594.
Glenlivet Estate History.
It was some 160 years ago that the farm of Auchorachan was farmed by a captain Grant, having returned from the Napoleonic wars. As a military officer, he like to have his own way and was of a stirring and enterprising disposition. On his return from the wars he set about improving the land and started work on a new farm steading. One great complication that arose however, was the lack of suitable building stone which was somewhat deficient in the area and it seemed that the work would be brought to a standstill. But the captain was not a man to be easily put off and with a keen eye for building stones soon spotted the resources of the neighbourhood and one day said to his servant Sandy Gordon "Aye Sandy, this is a fine state of matters isn't it? Glenlivet seems better supplied with water for making whisky than with stones for building houses" "But it behoves us to make good use of the material we have at hand, so today you will yoke the oxen to the sledge and bring over that big stone standing on the brow of the brae there: it will make a capital lintel for a byre door".
"What na' that stane, sir?" said Sandy, "ye dinna mean the Standing Stane?"
"I mean that stone on the brae" said the Captain
"its of no use there, but only in the way of the plough"
"Weel sir" said Sandy seriously, "Stanes may be scarce, but I wadna advise you to meddle wi' that ane2
"Why not?" asked the Captain sharply.
"Weel you see sir, it's nae a common stane an' shouldna be put to a common use. I've heard that it was ance pairt o' a kirk or place o'worship, or in some way conneckit wi' religion, an' therefore sacred. It's nae lucky to meddle wi' things o' that kind".
The Captain ignored this advice and Sandy had to do what he was told. the stone was duly removed from the field and built into the wall and by and by the steading was completed and filled with valuable cattle.
Such is the perversity of fate, for within a few weeks, the cattle were struck down by a mysterious disease and one by one began to perish. No cure that was tried had any effect and all the cattle doctors of the district both professional and amateur were called on and consulted. It seemed all would die and the Captain would face ruin.
"By George Sandy" said the Captain as another animal was buried
"This is the most terrible enemy I have ever encountered"
"I think I ken what's the matter wi' the beasts" sandy replied
"You do? Then what the dickens is it?"
"It's no the dickens - nor the dockens- but the stane - the standing stane that ye have me tak' from the brae yonder."
"By George" came the reply 2there certainly may be something in that tale of yours after all".
Despite all his gusto, the Captain was not one to deny a mistake and soon summoned the masons to set about removing the stone, which, in order to wipe out all cause of offence he replaced with his own hands in its exact old position in the field.
Sure enough as tradition has it, the disease abated and the remaining cattle lived. Whether it was the stone or simply the disease running it's natural course may never be known, for despite the scarcity of building stone to this date, none have ever meddled with the Standing Stone of Auchorachan, and there it stands in the field to this day, despite the inconvenience it may cause to modern farm machinery.
From Glenlivet Lilts by R. H. Calder (1925)
Glenlivet it has Castles three,
Drumin, Blairfindy and Deskie,
And also on distillery
More famous than the castles three.
Glenlivet it has peaty hills,
And rushing burns, and sparkling rills,
Where scores of wee unlicensed stills
Were busy filling kegs and gills.
Glenlivet it has raised it's name,
To shine upon the brow of fame,
And neighbours, near and distant, claim
A right to profit by the same.
Glenlivet has a Gallowhill,
Whereon the hangman plied his skill;
But, though the name suggests it still,
No culprit does a gallows fill.
Glenlivet has a standing stone,
A relic of age bygone;
Its history can be told by none;
Itself had best be left alone.
Glenlivet has a battlefield
On which brave Argyle was forced to yield,
Bur brave MacLean his brand did wield
Till Huntly's might o'ercame the chield.
Glenlivet it had wond'rous sights
Of fairies, witches, ghost and lights
And oh, the shaking, quaking frights
"Feart places" gave on darksome nights!
Glenlivet now has got a hall,
The very thing, one might it call,
A comfort and a joy to all
At concert, soiree, play or ball.
'The church or chapel of St Manires (or Chapel Majore, according to Alexander), who flourished in the 6th century, stood in a knoll between Lebhal and Rhynabaich, surrounded by a burial ground used within living memory for unbaptised children. There is a (probably) a prehistoric standing stone which McConnachie says was used as a reading desk for the chapel and was said to be the remains of a stone circle. Keith writing in 1732, mentions 'The Chappel of Hermitesas Miacras or Micras' as being extant.
McConnachie 1898, Alexander 1952, Spalding Club 1847-69.
Local myth tells that Maggie Redhead was a witch who lived locally. Unfortunately she was put to death. Before being caught she managed to hide her gold underneath one of the many rocks.
Dardanus - a King of Scotland who is said to have reigned before Christ, he was put to death for his cruelties.
Universal Historical Dictionary - George Crabb.
The key local legends here link the fourteenth-century Robert The Bruce to the area's prehistoric monuments from thousands of years earlier. Bruce was taken ill at the Battle Of Slioch against the Comyns (1307). His camp was supposed to have been on Robin's Height, to the north of Slioch, and the OSA in 1799 described the hill as having large inscribed stones and entrenchments. Whatever these earthworks and stones were, they are long gone. The prehistoric round cairn and long barrow on Newtongarry Hill to the north-east, along with a third, now vanished tumulus, were said to have been built by Bruce's men as observation and communications posts, with the sick king giving orders from the camp. In later years one of the tumuli was named the Fairy Hillock, and was also supposed to have been a place of execution.
Some water spirits were less than benevolent. A man desperate to reach his sick wife but despaired because the Luib Bridge over the Don had been swept away in a flood, accepted an offer from a very tall individual to carry him across. In the mid-river the kelpie, for such the stranger was, tried to drown the man, who only escaped after a fierce struggle. When he reached the bank the fustrated creature threw a boulder at him. Passers-by added stones to the boulder until it became known as Kelpie's Cairn.
The Witch. (Stories From Congarff)
'A large rock called St Moluag can be seen to east of the path up Tap O Noth. St. Moluag was a famous Celtic missionary and a contemporary of St. Columba. Sent to Pictland in AD562 he founded several churchs in the area including one at the nearby village of Clatt. The great rock Clochmaloo (stone of St. Moluag) was probably used as a retreat whilst he worked in the area.'
From the notice board at the car park.
The Battle Of Barra
The battle was fought on May 23rd, 1308. The army of King Robert The Bruce routed that of John Comyn, Earl Of Buchan. Bruce's victory marked the turning point in his bid to become king.
The battle is believed to have taken place on the lower slopes (Oldmeldrum side) of Barra Hill.
This chair shaped stone had previously lay higher up Barra Hill. Legend has it that Bruce, who was ill at the time, watched the battle from it.
Meldrum and Bourtie Society.
A small mound or hillock hollowed out in the centre. It is now partly filled up and defaced by a ditch cut through it. The local tradition is that it was made and used by a person called 'Tam' during the time of religious persecution in Scotland. It is also a well known point on the boundary of Marnoch and Forglen.
Name Book 1866.
'McConnochie states that the natural boulder called the Wolf Stone, in Scare Wood, was thrown by Mr Satan at Mrs Satan, but it fell short. The alternative legend, that a wolf had littered there and was killed by a woman throwing a girdle at it, is found in several places in Scotland. the stone may have been the site of land-courts in the Middle Ages. In MacPherson's Primitive Beliefs gives the case of James Smith, reported to the Aberdeen Synod for 'casting knots at marriages for unlawful ends'. This would have been magical ill-will, intended to foment disharmony in the newly married couple, or prevent them from having children.'
Mysterious Aberdeenshire - Geoff Holder.
'A very large cairn west of Luther Water was called Katie's Cairn because it supposedly marked the spot where Katie the witch was burnt. This is probably the same cairn described as the Witch Knap in Watt's Highways ans Byways, in which it was placed just east of the burn. Every schoolboy knew to contribute a stone to the when passing-or else the witch would get them. The cairn evaporated during the stone-hungry years of the mid-nineteenth century.'
Mysterious Aberdeenshire - Geoff Holder
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Still doing the music, following that team, drinking far to much and getting lost in the hills! (Some Simple Minds, Glasvegas, Athlete, George Harrison, Empire Of The Sun, Nazareth on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)
(The Delerium Trees)
Protect your heritage!