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Macduff's Cross

Standing Stone / Menhir


About three quarters of a mile south-west of Mugdrum cross, are the remains of another celebrated cross, Norman Macduff's cross, on which so much has been written, both in prose and rhyme. It is situated upon the high ground, in an opening of the Ochils which forms a pass from the valley of Strathearn into the central portion of Fife. This cross is said to have been broken in pieces by the Reformers, on their way from Perth to Lindores; and nothing now remains but the large square block of freestone which formed the pedestal. [..] There are several holes or indentations on its different faces, which tradition says were nine in number, and in which nine rings were at one time fixed. [..] It formed a girth or sanctuary for any of the clan Macduff, or any related to the chief within the ninth degree, who had been guilty of "suddand chaudmelle," or unpremeditated slaughter. In consequence of this privilege any person entitled to take advantage of it, and requiring its security, fled to the cross, and laying hold of one of the rings, punishment was remitted on his washing nine times at the stone, and paying nine cows and a colpendach or young cow; the nine cows being fastened to the rings. [...] a powerful spring called the Nine wells, where it is supposed that the ablutions took place, still takes its rise at no great distance from the cross.

[..] It was on all occasions necessary when the privilege of Cross-Macduff was claimed, that proof should be given of consanguinity within the limited degree; and where in any case the claimant failed in establishing his right, he was instantly put to death, and buried near the stone. There were formerly several artificial airns and tumuli around the cross, and one rather larger than the rest about fifty yards to the north, but the progress of agriculture which has brought the ploughshare over the fields around the cross, has now removed all traces of them. [..] "Superstition," says Cant, "forbids the opening of any of them; no person in the neighbourhood will assist for any consideration, nor will any person in or about Newburgh travel that way when dark, for they affirm that spectres and bogies, as they call them, haunt that place."
From 'The topographical, statistical and historical gazetteer of Scotland' v2, published by A Fullarton and Co, 1856.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th July 2010ce
Edited 6th July 2010ce

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