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The Priest's Well (Sacred Well)

'Lochnagar' by Alex McConnochie 1891
Passage about the Fairy hillock

"Near the bridge is a round-topped green hillock which, in the palmy days of superstition, was accounted a resort of the " little folks". Indeed, Dr. Macgillivray, writing in 1850, says that "on it a man still living has seen fairies dancing, with a piper playing to them ". The usual legend crops up here. On a certain Christmas evening two men proceeding from Loch Callater to Castleton heard beautiful music, and saw the little folks dancing on the hillock. One of the men fled precipitately, but the other stayed to feast his ears and eyes, and Christmas came round again before he was discovered as he had been left — standing, admiring the antics of the fairies. At first he declined to leave, as he " hadna been there but for an hour or twa", But he was ultimately rescued from the fascinations of the green-clad folk. "

'Lochnager' by Alex McConnochie 1891
Passage about the Priest's Well

"A short path, beginning a few yards East of the keeper's house, leads to a particularly large boulder by the loch side at which is " the Priest's Well ", a small chalybeate spring joining the loch. Of course this well has a story associated with it. According to legend, Braemar, at some remote period, suffered from a frost of longer duration and greater strength than even that wintry district had ever previously experienced. The month of May came, but so hard was the ground that not a plough could enter it. Famine being feared, appeal was made to Phadruig, the priest already alluded to. The good man led his anxious flock to this well, which, being of unusual character, was then esteemed of saintly origin. Like all others in the neighbourhood, however, its waters were fast sealed up, but after repeated prayers the well began to thaw. The first water drawn from it was applied to holy purposes. Mass celebrated, the priest resumed his supplications with the gratifying result that the thaw became general. The mountain on which the lowering clouds, intimating the advent of rain, were first seen, was called Cam an t-Sagairt, the Priest's Mountain, but in these degenerate days the name has been corrupted to the more common-place, if not euphonious, form of "Cairn Taggart ". Another version of the tradition has it that both priest and people went to Cam an t-Sagairt and remained there until the desired thaw set in. Until a comparatively recent period the Priest's Well — like many of its kind — had considerable popularity, and the usual offerings of coins, buttons, and preens were thrown into it."

Cloven Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

Dr Forbes, 'Dolmens in Scotland,' 1929.

"In the Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 11, p. 594, occurs the statement : ' No dolmens have been reported from Scotland'. May I place on record the position of one at least ? It stood, some 70 years ago or more (I hope it still stands), at the north or northwestern extremity of Battle Hill which looks down on the town of Huntly on the river Bogie in Aberdeenshire. In walking from Drumblade to the town, about 3 miles off, one usually took a ' short cut ' over Battle Hill. This bypath diverged from the turnpike road leading north to Banff and led to the top of Battle Hill (400 feet),close past the edge of the wood a few yards within which stood this monument. It was a typical dolmen, of which I retain a perfectly clear recollection, with its large granite capstone supported by three massive, rudely shaped pillars. On the aspect towards the bypath, there were some blocks of stone on the ground which may have constituted a fourth pillar or the ruins of a dromos, otherwise the dolmen was in excellent preservation. It stood about 6 to 7 feet high above the ground level, for I remember it took some climbing for me as a small boy to get on top. The dolmen had a special attraction for me perhaps because of what I felt was the inadequacy of the obtainable explanations as to its builders or its purpose. The legends attached to it were : that it was a ruined druid's altar; that the stones were dropped down through a hole in the Devil's apron when on his way to Knock Hill to deposit the cloven-stone there (a large glacial erratic); and that it is the tomb of a great warrior. Now, not far from the point where the bypath leaves the Banff road and on the flat on its eastern side stand two round tumuli, some 40 or 50 yards apart to the best of my recollection (cf. Geological Survey map of Scotland, sheet 86). Report had it that they mark the site of a great battle in ancient times, which gives its name to the hill and wood at whose base they stand, and that they contain the bones of the opposing combatants, one for each side ; but that the dolmen on the hill was raised to the memory of one of the leaders who was killed in the fray. It is possible that the battle (if battle ever took place) may have been fought on the hill, and that the tumuli (if graves they be) were erected on the plain in whose deeper soil (since Battle Hill is composed of thinly covered granite) it would be easier to place them."

Giant's Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

From 'Place Names of Strathbogie' p253 James Macdonlad 1891
Clochmaloo, is a spur of rock jutting out on the side of the Tap o' Noth overlooking Scordarg, and half-way up the Tap. The face of this perpendicular rock is about 30 feet high, and behind, standing clear of the hill, it is 7 or 8 feet high. Two names occur elsewhere which help us to understand this puzzling name. In charters of date 1450, and 1508, we have in the barony of Lochawe, Kilmolew, and in Morvern, Kilmalew, both churches dedicated to Saint Molocus, bishop. The Saint's name usually takes the forms Moluach, Moluoc, Molua, and Molew, which last gives the exact pronunciation as in Clochmaloo. Moluach is patron saint of Mortlach, and at Cloveth (Kildrummie) is Simmerluak's well. Clatt was also dedicated to this saint; and in that parish there was in old times St. Mallach's fair, and there is a farm close to the Kirktown of Clatt called Persylieu, which may contain the saint's name. Tarland is another dedication, and in this parish is Luoch's Fair. We have thus four dedications of Moluach within no great distance from Rhynie, two of them being in the neighbouring parishes; and Clochmaloo, 'the stone of Moluach', suggests the possibility that he was also patron saint of Rhynie. I may notice that clach means 'a stone', and it is unusual to find this word applied to a spur of rock. As it is so used here, it may indicate that the name is artificial, thus differing from all the Gaelic names around it.

A little westward of this rock, and near the base of the cone, is a large boulder called the Giant's stone. The legend connected with it is, that in the days when giants inhabited this part of the world, the giant of Dunnideer made an assault on his brother of the Tap, who, in defending his fort, pitched this great stone from the rampart against the enemy. Dunnideer to show his contempt put out his foot and checked the boulder in its downward course. The stone remains son the very spot it was arrested, and the imprint of the giant's foot may still be seen upon it.

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