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Rutherford's Witnesses

Natural Rock Feature

<b>Rutherford's Witnesses</b>Posted by markj99Image © Mark Johnstone
Nearest Town:Gatehouse Of Fleet (3km NE)
OS Ref (GB):   NX572556 / Sheet: 83
Latitude:54° 52' 28.35" N
Longitude:   4° 13' 32.93" W

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Rutherford's Witnesses</b>Posted by markj99 <b>Rutherford's Witnesses</b>Posted by markj99 <b>Rutherford's Witnesses</b>Posted by markj99 <b>Rutherford's Witnesses</b>Posted by markj99


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I've had an ambition to visit Rutherford’s Witnesses for some time however its apparent inaccessibility always thwarted an attempt. I am not enamoured of Samuel Rutherford himself, a religious Zealot, but I wanted to solve the mystery.
As I was perusing OS Maps recently I found a track which led to the vicinity of Rutherford’s Witnesses.
Travelling from Stranraer on the A75 I took the first L for Anwoth around 1 mile after passing The Teapot at Skyreburn. There is a lay-by to park in just around the corner. Walk back down to the junction and turn R up a narrow un-signed farm track. After around 0.5 mile I passed beside a small cottage (Hard Croft) and continued up the hill. After around 300 yards there was a faint track heading L downhill. I ignored this track, heading straight on. The track then bears N becoming vague in places heading uphill though rough whins for around 500 yards. I was lucky enough to see two groups of Fallow Deer, surprised to get a visitor. The path runs out in a rectangular flat clearing surrounded by whins. This could be the football pitch mentioned in the account. Using my GPS I zeroed in on the co-ordinates taken from the Camore map. Canmore has pinpointed 3 stones at Rutherford’s Witnesses, a pair at NX 572674 55608 and NX 57267 55609 with one stone c. 20 metres E located at NX 57253 55603. After some searching amongst the ferns I found three stones some 20 yards NE of the ‘football pitch’. There was a pair of stones at NX 57268 55613 and NX 57269 55616 with a third stone 25 yards W at NX 57256 55611.
These stones are within 10 metres of the expected grid references so it is not unreasonable to propose them as Rutherford’s Witnesses. The stones are between 1.5 and 2 foot high which is not huge but they are the only stones left in a cleared area.
Posted by markj99
24th September 2020ce
Edited 3rd December 2020ce


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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