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Macduff's Cross

Standing Stone / Menhir


Near Newburgh once stood Macduff's Cross, a 'rude upright stone'. The common legend, recorded by Robert Chambers in 1827, was that Malcolm Canmore endowed Macduff, Thane Of Fife, with three privileges, in recognition of his help in deposing Macbeth. First, he and his heirs should have the honour of placing the crown on the king's head at any coronation; secondly, whenever the royal standard was displayed in battle they should lead the vanguard of the army;

'and, lastly, that any person related to him within the ninth degree of kindred, having committed homicide without premeditation, should, upon flying to this obelisk and paying a certain fine, obtain remission of his crime'.

The cross was said to retain its sacred character almost until the Reformation, when it was demolished as a relic of popery; anyone who is interested, says Chambers,

'may still see the block of stone in which it was fixed, together with many tumuli, or mounds, said to contain the bodies of such refugees as, having failed to prove their consanguinity to Macduff, were sacrificed on the spot by their enraged pursuers'.

The block or pedestal can still be seen, in the field between the roads leading to Easter Lumbennie and Auchternuchty.

The privilege was invoked successfully at least once, if we believe the horror story of John Melville's death at Glenbervie, Aberdeenshire, when the laird of Arbuthnott claimed immunity on this account.

Robert Chambers
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
15th March 2024ce

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