The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Sacred Hill


Like many other works whose origin is obscured in the dim and distant past, Birrenswark Hill was regarded with something of superstitious awe. An old man brought up in the vicinity told the writer that in is boyhood the hill was regarded as an uncanny place. Few were bold enough to stroll there on Sundays or after sun-down, and against such practices his mother frequently gave him solemn warning. Some, he said, thought the ancient Britons or the Romans had something to do with these inexplicable earthworks; but the common belief was that another potent influence had a hand in the matter, who, desirous not to have his part detected, visits with elemental manifestations of displeasure such as come there to howk for hidden treasure.

The profound present-day scepticism makes no allowance for such wanderings in superstition as these, but some measure of excuse is properly due in circumstances unusual which may sometimes occur. The writer having occasion to visit the hill for the purpose of conferring with an officer of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, on reaching the south camp, found the place wholly enveloped in a desne fog, and no one could be seen. Shortly, however, conversation was overheard, and the desired meeting ensued. The effect of the mist was curious and interesting. Normal dimensions disappeared, and the ramparts, ditches, and other details loomed hugely, gigantic and undefined. The writer seemed to perceive also fitful movements of something without shape or substance, and, whether preceding, accompanying or following, the motion had some sort of relation to his own - a rare phenomenon which arose from a quick flash of light from the sun casting trembling and uncertainshadows on the yet partially dense body of the mist. When the mist quickly unrolled, the sun broke out, and the whole place was bathed in the bright sunlight of the fully opened day.
And I think that's as close as he'll come to admitting he was a little freaked out. From James Barbour's account of Agricola's Well on Birrenswark Hill, in the 1911/12 Transactions and Journal of the Proceedings of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th November 2012ce

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