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Rutherford's Witnesses

Natural Rock Feature


Another somewhat speculative site, but these stones are marked on the map and might be worth checking out. They're also near a Burnt Mound which is on the banks of the very close-by stream.
On a level field on the farm of Mosscobin, betwixt the Kirk of Anwoth and Skyreburn village, there lately remained, or may still remain, two large stones which bear the name of Rutherford's Witnesses.

The reason why such a name was given stands as follows:- The people of Anwoth, ere [Rev. Samuel] Rutherford was settled among them, had frequently assembled there on the Sabbath evenings to play at football. Rutherford not only denounced this practice from the pulpit, but frequently followed them, and reproved on the spot; he called on the objects around, particularly on three large stones to witness betwixt them and him, that, however they might continue such practices, he had done his duty.

The history of the removal of the third stone is curious. A person employed in building a fence, wished to avail himself of these stones ; a fellow labourer ordered him to desist, warning him of the danger of touching such sacred relics; the other persisted, and even jeered Rutherford as a fanatic. He removed one of the stones, and swore that he would remove them all before he broke his fast. In attempting the second stone, hoever, he fell down dead; or as another tradition says, he was choked with a bite of bread which he attempted to swallow while applying his punch to the sacred stone.
Rutherford sounds like a barrel of laughs, haranging the poor locals on their day off at the Sunday five-a-side. And note the usual stoney folklore. Which makes me wonder at the stones' original purpose, you see. Because you can't go nicking a bit of an outcrop easily, for one thing.

From 'Unique Traditions Chiefly of the West and South of Scotland' by J G Barbour (1886).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st November 2009ce
Edited 6th November 2009ce

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