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White Loch of Myrton



The White Loch of Myrton has a rather other-worldly reputation. It was said that:
In Galloway, the Loch, called Loch-myrton, although it be common to all fresh water to freeze in Winter, yet the one halfe of this Loch doth never freeze at any time.
From 'A Memoriall of the most rare and wonderfull things in Scotland' - published in 'Certeine Matters Concerning the Realme of Scotland, composed together', 1603.

Andrew Symson disagrees in his 'Large Description of Galloway' (1684), and being a minster is rather disaproving of people's rituals involving the water:
This loch is very famous in many writers, who report that it never freezeth in the greatest frosts. Whether it had that vertue of old, I know not; but sure I am it hath it not now; for this same year it was so hard frozen that the heaviest carriages might have been carried over it. However, I deny not but the water thereof may be medicinal, having receaved severall credible informations, that severall persons, both old and young, have been cured of continued diseases by washing therein; yet still I cannot approve of their washing three times therein, which, they say, they must do; neither the frequenting thereof the first Sunday of the quarter, viz. the first Sunday of February, May, August and November; although many foolish people affirm, that not only the water of this loch, but also many other springs and wells have more vertue on those days than any other.
It also had fairy connections:
Sir Godfrey McCulloch having squandered his patrimony and sold his estates in Mochrum to the Maxwells of Monreith, took up house at Cardoness. Here a neighbour, William Gordon, having poinded some cattle straying on his lands, Sir Godfrey joined a party illegally convened to release them. A fray was the result, in which McCulloch, in the words of his indictment, "did shoot at the said Gordon with aa gun charged, and by the shot broke his thigh bone and leg, so that he immediately fell to the ground and within a few hours thereafter died of the same shot wound." Sir Godfrey fled the country, and some years after ventured on a Sunday to attend a church in Edinburgh. A Galloway man was among the congregation, who, recognising him, jumped up and cried: "Pit to the door, there's a murderer in the kirk!" This was done, McCullough arrested, tried, condemned, and his head "stricken fra his body" the 5th of March 1697. So say the Criminal Records: there is a very different local version of the story.

Long long before the fatal encounter, and before he had entered on the evil courses which led to his ruin, Sir Godfrey, young and curly, sat at a window in the Tower of Myrtoun watching the operations of a gang of workmen forming a new sewer from his house to the White Loch below it. Suddenly he was startled by the apparition close beside him of a very little old man whose hair and beard were snowy white, whose strangely-cut costume was green, and who seemed in a state of furious wrath.

Sir Godfrey received him, notwithstanding, with the greatest urbanity, and begged to be told in what way he could serve him. the answer was a startling one; "McCulloch," said the visitor, "I am the king of the brownies! My palace has been for ages in the mound on which your tower stands, and you are driving your common sewer right through my chalmer of dais [i.e. his best room]."

Sir Godfrey, confounded, threw up the window and ordered the workmen to stop at once, professing his perfect readisness to make the drain in any such direction as might least incommode his majesty, if he would graciously indicate the same. His courtesy was accepted, and Sir Godfrey received a promise in return from the now mollified potentate, that he, the said king, would stand by and help him in the time of his greatest need.

It was long after this that the knight of Myrtoun disposed of his enemy in the summary way we have already mentioned, and for which he was condemned to die. The procession had started for the place of eecution; a crowd was collected to see the awful sight; when the spectators were surprised by seeing a very little man with white hair and beard, dressed too in an antique suit of green, and mounted on a white horse. He issued from the castle-rock, crossed the loch without a moment's hesitation, and rode straight up to the cart on which Sir Godfrey, accompanied by the executioner and a minister, was standing. They plainly saw Sir Godfrey get on the horse behind the little man, who was no other than the king of the brownies (and thus fulfilled his promise by arriving in his hour of need): the two recrossed the loch, and mounting the castle-rock they disappeared.

When the astonished crowd again turned their eyes to the cart a figure was still there, and wondrous like Sir Godfrey; it was, therefore, generally believed that he had met a felon's doom, and most people thought no more about it. A few only knew better, but these cared little to speak about the matter. At rare intervals, however, one of the initiated would impart the story to a friend, and tell how a head had rolled upon the ground, leaving a bleeding trunk upon the scaffold: then adding in a confidential whisper, "It was no' him ava, it was just a kin' o' glamour."
From Andrew Agnew's 'Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway', volume 2, 1893.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th November 2016ce
Edited 9th November 2016ce

Comments (1)

I called at Monreith House to look at the 'sculpted stones' marked on OS 83 and was told they 'weren't there any more..don't know what happened.' Subsequently looking at Canmore, the OS records in 1977 a stone with a central groove and seventeen grooves either side, purpose obscure', at the entrance to the house. I hope to return and look/ask again in case the person I asked was an employee and unaware, as this stone may be of greater antiquity than the other stones, which Canmore indicates as Christian. NB The crannog is not marked on OS 83, and I only became aware of it when after calling at the house I looked at a map of the loch on a fishermans notice board - it is on Explorer 311 though. So..foiled in original purpose of visit, but a very nice surprise. spencer Posted by spencer
9th November 2016ce
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