Saturday, 14 April 2018

Do Shining Streams Dream of Radiant Ladies?

   The Paphrie Burn in the north of Angus is no-one's idea of a roaring river or an awesome body of water, but someone once  thought it was amazing, because its name comes from a Pictish root cognate with the Welsh pefr, which means 'radiant' or 'beautiful' (Inverpeffer near Arbroath derives from the same word).  The valley of the burn is in an area packed with ancient associations.  To the south is the Mansworn Rig, scene of a bloody encounter* and to the east are the hill-forts, the Brown and White Caterthun.

   A ghost goes here, about its solitary business in this small glen of the radiant stream, or at least it did until the land was changed in the late 19th century.  There is nothing so resonant as a dead ghost.  But at least the tale remains, and here it is, as told by the Rev. Frederick Cruickshank in Navar and Lethnot, The Story of A Glen Parish in the North-East of Forfarshire (Brechin, 1899):

In a hollow part of the road betwixt Menmore [Menmuir] and Lethnot is, or rather was, for recent improvements have done away with it, a place called the Leuchat Pool.  The burn running down from it to the Paphrie is still the Leuchat burn.  There is a well known tradition that close by this Pool a Tailor, once on a time, killed his sweetheart.  She has ever since haunted the place, and is recognised by her dress of light grey, which has given her the name of "the white wife."  Many persons passing by on dull evenings have seen her.  One of the Leightons of Drumcairn told me that he was riding across the Tullo hill on a moon-light night, when the spectral figure presented itself to his view.  He knew at once what it was, but to make sure he struck at it with his whip which went through the seeming woman without meeting any obstruction. His courage then gave way, and he set off up the brae as fast as his horse could go.  The figure kept an even pace with him for a little way, and then all at once disappeared.  I remain to this day under the impression that I once saw her myself.  I had been at the Manse of Menmore dining with my kind and hospitable friend, Mr Cron, and was walking home.  The time might be past eleven, but the night was not dark.  On reaching the Leuchat Pool, i saw a woman, clothed as above described, seated on the bank at the right hand side of the road.  I spoke to her in the usual manner, but to my surprise she made no answer, and got up, taking her way towards Menmore.  I did not think of the "white wife" at the time, and am not sure if up till then I had heard the story.  I took it for granted that it was some poor benighted traveller like myself, who was taking a rest by the road-side, and recognising me she was afraid to speak lest her voice should betray her.  But since that time I have come to the conclusion that if such a spectre haunts the place, it was certainly visible to me that night. [Navar and Lethnot, 299-300.]
[Author Adam Watson, incidentally, derives the name Leuchat from An Fhliuchad, 'the wet place', Place Names in Much of North- East Scotland, p. 107.]

   The Rev. Cruickshank, the son of a weaver from Kirriemuir, was born in 1826.  He became the incumbent of Navar and Lethnot in 1854 and resigned as minister in 1905, dying three years later.  Apart from the parish history quoted from, he also wrote Historic Footmarks in Stracathro (Brechin, 1891).

   As a footnote, it should be noted that White Ladies are particularly prone to haunt burns and other water features, though the Angus variant, in Dundee, Claypotts, House of Dun and Balnabreich generally dispenses with this rule of nature (apart from Benvie, possibly).

Tale of the Mansworn Rig

 On the eastern side of Tullo Hill, Menmuir is the Mansworn (i.e. Perjured) Rig.  It received its name after a dispute between two landowners.  Both men brought witnesses to the place to swear that the land belonged to their respective masters.  One servant swore to God that he was standing on his employer's ground, which so enraged the Laird of Balhall that he pulled a pistol from his belt and shot the man dead.  When the body was examined it was found that he had filled his shoes with soil taken  from his master's land so that he could truthfully swear his oath.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Church Bells (Joy and Music or Death and Darkness?)

The Folklore of Bells

Who would have thought there were things so dark and mysterious in the history of church bells?  If folklore generally bells are sometimes the means of banishing Satan and all dark powers, transmitting the power of goodness as well as pure sound. Slightly more supernaturally, in some places bells are heard under the sea, having been sunk in a shipwreck, forever tolling for their own  loss.

   Bells were sometimes given human names and attributed with powers to scare malevolent forces away.  It was said of the great bell in the church of Nuremberg in Germany:

By name I Mary called, with sound I put to flight,
The thunder crackes and hurtfull stormes and every wicked sprite.

The ropes at rest - for ringing the bells or hanging some unfortunate?

Hell's Bells?:  Stealing the Peals.  Continental Bells. Death at Navar

   In 'real life' there is a surprising association of criminality and dark acts sometimes associated with church bells.  Never as numerous in Scotland as in England, it seems that certain sacrilegious individuals viewed them only for their net worth as metal to be melted down and sold on.  So we have a record in the burgh archives of Dundee in 1560 when the Baillies ordered 'James Young to exhibit and produce before them the bell of Kynspindie, whilk was arrestit in his house to the effect they may do justice thereanent.'  Young was evidently a shady opportunist taking advantage of the redistribution of Church belongings at the Reformation and had misappropriated the church bell from Kilspindie in the Carse of Gowrie.  He did not respond to the demands of the Dundee authorities, so he was required 'to deliver to Archibald Dowglass of Kynspindie his bell or pay him the sum of twentie pounds.'  There is a tale untold about how he transported the conspicuous object from the village to Dundee and how he was caught.

   There was another bell theft a few months later when it was recorded:  'William Carmichell to deliver to the parochiners of Lyff their bell, taken by him frae certain persons wha wrangously intromittit therewith.'  Whether or not Liff ever got its original bell back is a mystery.  The current kirk bell  was cast in the Netherlands by the Burgherhuis foundry at Middleburg (which later also provided the bells for Liff's neighbours Benvie and Lundie, the latter dating to 1617.).  This foundry also cast bells for the Angus kirks of Farnell (1662) and Panbride (1664).  Oathlaw's bell (1618) waqs also made in Europe, as was that of Rescobie (1620, from the foundry of Andreas Ahem).   The first known bell at Kettins was cast by George (Jooris) Waghevens and was made in 1519. Monikie's bell, unusually, is of Scottish manufacture, made at Aberdeen in 1718.

   Cornelis Ouderogge of Rotterdam made Navar's bell in 1655, which was later given to Arbroath Museum.  It had remained in the kirk of Navar until that building became ruinous after the union of the parish with Lethnot in 1719.  It was then hung upon a tree in the churchyard.  While the bell was being tolled for a funeral the clapper later fell out and struck a young lad from the family of Wyllie of Tillyarblet and killed him on the spot.  In 1773 the locals erected a tower for the bell and here it remained until 1827 when it disappeared for a time.

   Knelling of the Passing Bell.  Dundee and Brechin Chime In

  There was a widespread superstitious connected with the Passing Bell, though tolling still happened at funerals under the sway of Presbyterianism.  Dundee's authorities at one time decreed 'that ony person [who] cause the gret bells to be rung for either saul mass or dirige, he sall pay forty pence to the Kirk werk'.  But, at another time, 'The bell is decernit till ring friely for all neighbours and comburgesses at ony neighbours decease without any contribution, except twelve pence to the sacristan ringer alanerly.'  This latter fee was also sometimes dispensed with as a matter of respect.

   In medieval times, the ringing of church bells occurred at different times.  Prior to the Reformation the kirk of Dundee possessed 5 bells, on which 'six score and nine straiks' were given three times a day, to call to 'matins, mess, and evensang'.  It was no easy matter for those people who actually swung the heavy bells.  On 10th November 1590 the burgh of Dundee recognised these concerns:
The Council, understanding the grite and continual travels and lawbours quhilk Charles Michelson hes in ringing the bells and attending on the Kirk at all occasions, and the exignitie [insufficiency]of the duty quhilk wes appointit of before for that service, quhairupon ane person can not lieve honestly, now appointit to him yearly aucht pennies to be upliftit of ilk neighbour having ane fire-house within the burgh, at sic time and season of the year as he sail think expedient... [The History of Old Dundee, Alexander Maxwell, 1884, 292-3]
   Three years later a new bell was bought on behalf of the burgh, probably from the Netherlands.  Apart from the instances above, the bell or bells were also chimed to mark the curfew.  Dundee's curfew was rung at 9, but later changed to 10 in the evening.  Brechin's bells began ringing at 4 in the morning and the last was rung at 8 in the evening.  The Beadle rang the 'little bells' on Sunday morning to announce the time for prayers and the 'great bell' in the steeple at the start of preaching.  The last bell rung at 8 marked the beginning of curfew.

The tower of St Mary's Dundee, the 'Old Steeple'.

Forfar's 'Lang Strang' and the Jealousy of Dundee

   Forfar's 'Lang Strang' bell has a special place in the affections of Forfar people and dates from the mid-17th century.  Two brothers, Robert and William Strang emigrated to Sweden and made a good living for themselves there. (They are generally supposed to be sons of Provost Alexander Strang of Forfar, but may have been his brothers.)  The Forfar brothers donated two small bells to their hometown, which were called 'six o' clock' and 'eight o' clock', and in 1657 donated a massive new bell to the burgh.  The elder Strang in Stockholm, Robert, commissioned Gerhard Meyer to cast a great bell to give to Forfar.  Before it was completed he died and his brother William took over the project. Robert also bequeathed 10,000 merks to the poor of Forfar.

   A popular story says that the bell was shipped from Stockholm to Dundee, but the people of Dundee were so jealous of Forfar's bell that they tore out the clapper and threw this 'silver tongue' into the River Tay.  Undaunted the Forfar folk collected their bell and improvised a new clapper which served for many years until local craftsman David Falconer produced a new one, which serves to this day.  Lang Strang is fulsomely praised by Alan Reid in The Royal Burgh of Forfar (Paisley, 1902), p. 136:

Swung 'high in the belfry' of the parish church, the large and graceful object is not to be seen without some trouble and exertion, but it repays seeing quite as much as it does listening.  Its great size - some three feet by four - as also its massive brazen build, commands attention; but the ornamentation and inscribing are equally interesting.  The Strang quarterings appear on one side, with these words:  'This bell is Perfected and Augmented by William Strang and his Wyfe Margaret Pattillo in Stockholm, Anno 1656.'  On the opposite side may be read:  'For the glory of God and the Love he did bear to his Native Toune Hath Umql. Robert Strang Friely Gifted this Bell to the Churche of the Burghe of Forfar, who Deceased in the Lord in Stockholm on the 21 daye of Aprill, Anno 1651.'  The words 'Me fecit Gerat Meyer, Anno 1656,' appear among the quotations from Scripture which occupy the upper and lower circumferences of the bell.  To bring forth the full volume of tone which 'Lang Strang' is famous requires a considerable exercise of strength and skill. Many an ambitious young Forfarian has had his mettle tried by the 'tow-rope' of the giant.
   The traffic of bells with Sweden was not entirely one way.  The Courier newspaper reported on 27th November 2013 that  a pair of Swedish Lutherans turned up in Carmyllie and announced they had found a bell inscribed with the village name just outside of Stockholm.  The theory runs that the bell found its way to Sweden soon after the  first Jacobite rising in 1715.  The Earl of Panmure had ordered the bell to be rung so enthusiastically that it was reported to have cracked and so a new bell was installed in the kirk in 1716.  So the bell marked with Carmyllie's name in Sweden may be that original bell, but no one knows how or why it ended up there.

Lang Strang

The Kettins Bell:  The Mystery of Marie Troon - Mercenaries, Monasteries, Bogs, and Theft?

   Another bell with continental associations and an even stranger tale stands in the kirkyard of Kettins.  The bell has the inscription:  'My name is Marie Troon and Mr Hans Popenuyder  [Popen Reider] made me in 1519.'  This Hans is possibly to be identified with the cannon-maker who supplied the cannons for Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose. There is no proven connection between this foreigner with Kettins (or the Flemish monastery mentioned below).

Since the church was redesigned in 1893, the bell has been houses in a small separate turret, but was incorporated into the main building before that date. The first strand of mystery revolves around how a 16th century bell with an apparently blatant European origin can to belong to an 18th century church.

  Architect Alexander tried to unravel the story late in the 19th century and gave the traditional origin of the bell as relayed by antiquarian Andrew Jervise:

The traditional origin of the bell, as given by Jervise, is that it originally belonged to the Abbey of Cupar-Angus, had been removed from there, and lost or hid in a bog or myre at Baldinnie, a short distance south of Kettins, whence the bell was rescued by one Ramsay, and by him presented to the Kirk of Kettins, and he, in respect of the gift, acquired for his family a right of burial within the church. In proof of this story, Rev. Mr Fleming states that the burial-place of the Ramsays was immediately underneath the belfry. ['Notice of the Bell and Other Antiquities at the Church of Kettins, Forfarshire,'  Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Volume 28 (1893-4), 90-100.]

   From that point, however, the story gets impossibly entangled.  One theory states that the monks at nearby Coupar Angus had possession of the bell and buried it purposefully before it was taken to Kettins church for safe-keeping.  However, there was a considerable time lapse before the closure of the abbey in the mid 16th century and the appearance of the bell and gift of it to the kirk in the very last years of the 17th century.  If Marie Troon is equated with 'Mary Enthroned', some argue that this connects the bell directly to the Abbey of Coupar, dedicated to St Mary.

   By the end of the 20th century it was widely theorised that the bell had been cast in Belgium and there was a small trickle of visitors from that nation who came from that nation to see the bell.  Flemish historians believed that the bell came from the monastery of Our Lady of Troon in Grobbendonk, near Antwerp, and was looted by soldiers. This connection had already been made in the late Victorian era by David MacRitchie, as told by Alexander Hutcheson:

half an hour's walk from Grobbendonck, there is a small hill which gives its name to the surrounding farm, viz., 'De Troon' or 'The Throne.' The farm-steading is part of an old monastery known as 'Maria Troon.' The Priory of Canons-Regular of Maria Troon was foiinded in the year 1414 near the village of Ouwen, now Grobbendonck, on the river Nethe, one hour's journey from Herenthals . . . But in the year 1578 it was attacked by the Dutch soldiers of the province of Herenthals, and burned to the ground. The monks were dispersed, and ultimately, in 1587, united themselves with the monks of St Martin's Priory at Louvain.

   How the Marie Troon actually made its way from the Low Countries to Strathmore, however, is far from apparent.  Some people say the Marie Troon was first used on board a ship and was possibly stole while the vessel lay in Scottish waters; others believe it fell into the hands of traders who sold it on to the Hallyburton family who had connections with Dundee and Kettins. Hutcheson however points out that the bell is too large to have practically served that purpose.


   Things took another turn when a well-manner delegation from Grobbendonk came to Kettins in the early 21st century and asked if they could have their bell back.  Among those pressing for the repatriation were Paul van Rompaye, a local councillor, and Martine Paelmon, a member of the Belgian parliament.  However, a compromise was hammered out whereby the Belgians indicated they were prepared to accept a bell made from a cast of the original.  Crisis and diplomatic incident averted.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Colin Sievwright the Weaver Poet and Queen Scota, Ancestress of the Scots

  A post of two halves, this one, and only loosely connected, I'm afraid.  Let's first look at the Brechin-born 'weaver poet' Colin Sievwright.  Born in Brechin in 1819, son of a hand-loom weaver, he was the eldest of a large family.  His parents were Solomon Sievwright and Martha Burnett.  He started work in the East Mill Company at the age of eight and was paid a shilling per week for seventy-two hours' work.  He married Annie Mackenzie in 1842 and they had four sons and one daughter.  The year before his marriage he was recorded in the census as being a resident in Kirriemuir, working as a weaver.  By the time of the census in 1871 he was living at 21 Dundee Loan, Forfar, and he was employed in a factory as a starchmaker, though he pertinently - and proudly - listed his subsidiary occupation as 'poet'.

   And a poet Colin Sievwright certainly was, a member of that peculiarly Victorian breed of artisan bards who flourished all over Great Britain.  The merits of this brand of poetry are hard to judge as a whole, and I admit that 19th century poetry in its entirety is not something which I love.  Colin published four books of poetry:  The Sough O' The Shuttle (1866), A Garland for the Ancient City:  Or, Love Songs of Brechin and its Neighbourhood (1873), New Lilts O' The Braes O' Angus (1874), Rhymes for the Children of the Church (1879). Sievwright's work covered subjects such as the beauties of natures and the characters of rural life.  He wrote in both Scots and English and the following (from his 1866 book) gives a flavour of his work, describing the (then) ruined castle of Inverquharity:

Auld Kirrie, Cradle of the Nation?

Scota - First of the Scots?  Dream Queen?

   In his introduction to his poem 'View from the Hill of Kirriemuir' (again from his first collection), Colin Sievwright provides some surprising information about Kirrie Den which seems to take us to a very remote place in Scotland's past:

At the entrance of this delightful arbour [where the Gairie Burn issues from a ravine at the west of the town], on your right hand as you ascend the banks of the stream, there is to be seen a little cave in the rock beautifully overhung with 'the ivy evergreen,' and known to the people in the neighbourhood as the Queen's Chamber, where it is believed that Scota Eta, a daughter of Pharoah king of Egypt, and the first who swayed the royal sceptre over Caledonia's hills and glens, found a shelter, when in the course of one of her Royal perambulations she was overtaken by the double calamity of darkness and drift.  In this little chamber we are told she passed the night in perfect safety, while her bodyguard lay encamped on the holm on the opposite side of the stream.
   The tale of this mythical queen goes back very distantly indeed into the murky past of both Irish and Scottish origin myths.  In one version of these confusing tales, Feinius Farsaidh and his son Nel were intrepid heroes and linguists who took the sacred Gaelic language from the Tower of Babel.  Nel made a good career move by journeying into Egypt and hooking up with the Pharoh's daughter, Scota:

He went into Egypt through valour
Till he reached powerful Pharoh,
Till he bestowed Scota, of no scant beauty,
The modest, nimble daughter of Pharoh.
  Following the drowning of the Egyptial leader in the Red Sea, Nel and Scota's son Gaidel Glas led their tribe west, into western Europe, and they were named Gaels in honour of him.  But how the Queen of Egypt happened to be encamped in Kirrie Den is anyone's guess.

Scota:  Any resemblance to any character, actual or fictional, is purely co-incidental.

More Classical Connections in Kirriemuir, the Graeco-Pictish Conspiracy

   Caddam Wood is the name of a noted Scottish country dance tune, and it is an actual case near Kirrie where - possibly - a Greek nymph once sported itself. (The wood features in The Little Minister, Sentimental Tommy and Tommy and Grizel by J. M. Barrie).  But there is a more elusive mention of the place (elusive to me anyway) in The Barrie Inspiration by Patrick Chalmers (1938), which states:

There is a legend of Caddam, borrowed from the Greek mythology, which tells how a god pursued a Greek nymph there, which was an unco' thing to happen in an Auld Licht Parish.      
 Further details of this Doric tall-tale are sadly unknown to me.  But I have a theory which may revolutionise the ethnicity of the entire Scottish race.  We know that Lallans was a name for the Scots language, and before that it was known as Doric, signifying a metaphorical connection with the wild, rural country of uncultured highland Greece.  But what if there was an actual, real DNA connection?  We know that Usan on the Angus coast was supposed in a so-called tall story to have been founded by the mighty Ulysses.  It all fits together.  It is too coincidental that we also have this story, however slight, of the minions of Pan cavorting in the Kirrie glades.  The Picts were neither Celts nor Scythians, but actually a lost tribe of noble Greeks, lost in time.  Case proved; enough said, except to state that less knowledgeable commentators may blame the transference of classical culture on a misinterpretation of local lads and lassies to the noble efforts of local dominies back in Victorian times, but that is quite simply not the case.

Sievwright himself.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

The Man With The White Sandshoes (and a Purple Man too)

   I've put out a call for information today via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. to see if anyone can provide me with any additional information regarding "The Man With the White Sandshoes".  This character is a kind of urban legend, whose supposed activity stretched over many decades in the mid to late 20th century.  In summary, he was a nameless but terrifying apparition - I'm not sure whether human or ghostly -who terrorised people in Dundee by chasing after them, for unknown reasons.  Generations of children had him whispered about by cold blooded siblings and older associates who took delight in instilling mortal fear in more gullible bairns.

   A cursory investigation shows that the character (archetype?) is familiar in other parts of Scotland, most in the west, where he was sometimes known as "Sandshoe Sammy".  More intriguingly, the same character also featured in the urban parts of North-East England.  I always believed that the spectre was well-kent in Dundee, but there is no mention of him in Geoff Holder's well researched Haunted Dundee.  

   In my childhood the Man With The White Sandshoes was active in the environs of Balgay Hill, in the gloaming and after dark. he ran on the roads and wooded pathways of the hill, running after random unfortunates who happened to be unlucky enough to have strayed into his domain.  A favourite spot of his apparently was the iron bridge which joins the two sections of the hill.  This was also a favoured haunt of the White Lady (whose actives are admirably detailed by Holder), but I don't know whether there was any connection between these two creatures.  A particular target of the Man was any nurse who happened to walk through the hill, on the way to or from her shift at Victoria Hospital, to the south of Balgay.  What he would do if he actually caught anyone is also unknown.

   The apparition is alleged to have haunted the area around Dunmore Street, in Kirkton, in the 1950s.  Beyond Dundee, there is a wonderful tale from North Lanarkshire/East Dunbartonshire online, related by someone who used to venture every Saturday with an associate or two, 'years back', from Moodiesburn to Kirkintilloch, an isolated country route.  The narrator says that one winter weekend day he crossed the road, 'just before the countryside part', and saw what he thought was a severed hand in a glove perched on the top of a dyke.  However, it turned out to be a glove cleverly packed with ice by a clever prankster.  He and his friends started speculating that the hand was real and the work of a serial killer they decided to call "The White Sandshoe Man", and for months joked that this horror was pursuing them.  Months and months later he found another snow packed glove on the same wall, only this was from the other hand.  The killer punchline was that it was the middle of a July heatwave - how could it have got there and not melted?

   The story is intriguing for its many folkloric elements.  Did he merely pluck the name of the bogey out of the air, or was the character floating about, metaphorically or actually, in the local ether?

   The Glasgow version of the origin of the soft shoe man is more emphatic.  During the blackout in World War II, there was a man who used to lurk around in the enforced darkness of the Garnethill area, and he would pounce on stray women and strangle them.  He was never brought to justice.  His method was made effective by his wearing sandshoes and therefore he was nicknamed Sand Shoe Sanny and became a terror to successive generations of weans in the locality.

   A variant on the name of the prowler is "Sand Shoe Sanny", not Sammy, readily explained by the fact that sannies are Scots slang for sandshoes. Another rogue tradition says the same was "Sandshoe Wullie".  One Glaswegian swore that this character lived near the public baths in Elvan Street:  

He wore a long coat and a bunnet and...walked with his hands in his coat pockets.  I never ever saw this person or new [sic.] anyone who had actually seen him... Whenever we were in the Shettleston area from Wellshot Road down to Cree Street we were always extra vigilant...
   On the same online message board another contributor ("weegieghost") gave the variant name for the ghoul as "Flannelfoot".  Is this a throwback to a primordial, noiseless bogle from before the time when the ubiquitous sandshoe came into being?  One of the functions of the being, of course, was to keep children in line, away from certain areas and home by a specific time, or else.

   Possibly the Sandshoe Man (was "Plimsoll Samuel" his given name, I wonder?) was a regional variant on the shadow being known around the world as The Silent Man or The Still Man.  This is a stalking figure who murders victims for reasons unknown and seems to feature in folklore as far afield as Germany and other places in Europe.

   Be that as it may, the Scottish version is very distinctive.  Fair enough wearing sandshoes for fleet movement, but why particularly white sandshoes?  Surely that would just draw attention to the runner.  One source states that the anonymous man wore one black shoe and one brown one, which is nearly as attention seeking.  How the story began is anyone's guess, but my mind is drawn to tales of "Jack the Runner", one of the many haunters of Glamis Castle (itself not far from Dundee).  This creature ran wildly across the lush and eerie lawns in front of the castle and is reckoned by some to be the spirit of the famous family monster, taking a forlorn chance to escape from its family captors.  Maybe there is a link here to an archetype?

+++++++++ Respondents' Roll of Honour from Facebook, etc. +++++++++++++++

   In response to my request for information, the following members of Dundonian History for All on Facebook have kindly provided the following: 

SN:  'As children we were told we had to be asleep before the man in the white sannies came, never told why!!??'

MH: 'I think perhaps there was a pedo or murderer who wore white sandshoes and mums and dads all over used it to help keep the children safe. I was frightened by a man wearing white sandshoes at Lochee park. My pals and I gave him a wide berth but looking back he was probably on his way to play tennis in the park.'

AP:  'I used to live at 36 North Ellen Street up three flights of stairs and sometimes had to take a meal down to the old lady on the ground floor. At the bottom of the stairs was an alley way out to the rubbish bins and the man in the White sannies used to hide in there having a smoke.'

MB:  'He lived next door to us, and apart from the white Sannie’s his nose was purple wi the drink.'

JD:  'My parents when they were children were told to watch out for the man in the white sanshoes. That would've been 1940s. They told us in the 1970s the same story but they said he wore red clothing.'

MT:  'While at primary school in the early 60's someone in the playground would shout "Here's the manny in the white sannies! We would all run for cover. The other one was the "purple man".'

GD:  'At Dryburgh Primary in the sixties we were scared of the Purple Mannie but never saw him.' (RF, a contemporary at Dryburgh Primary, also recalls the Purple Mannie.)

DM: 'My dad told me about the man in the white sand shoes was a flasher when he was young. Used to creep about in sandshoes so kids didn't here him coming and when he got close he would open his rain coat and be naked.'

MG states that his wife 'was told about him when little apparently he would creep up behind women to scare them wearing sand shoes so not to be heard doing this'.

   Several people remember at least one person in Dundee singing a song about the Man With the White Sandshoes, but the words and tune are probably now lost.

  JC informed me by email that her memory of the White Sandshoe Man was when she went to Mains School in 1940s: 'he used to wear a long raincoat and he used to stand on the golf course looking over to our school . I’ve never forgotten him.'

   The Teeside version of Sandshoe Sammy was very evident in the 1970s.  As in some Scottish instances, in England the name also sometimes became attached to a real person.  In Middlesbrough, a lonely figure who always carried a carrier bag and wore sandshoes which were too big for him (and, therefore, presumably useless for running?). The figure, in various whispered forms, was known in the city from the 1940s onwards.  What connection there was between this area and Glasgow, in terms of this tale, are not clear.  But a tale from a contributor to The Partick Times (Summer 2015) also states that Sandshoe Sammy was a name given to a real person, who stayed at Exeter Drive.

Anyway this man, maybe he had something wrong with his feet, but for whatever reason, he wore huge, big sandshoes and he always wore a coat and he had a beard. He wasn’t frightening or creepy, but there was something odd about the man and he was always called Sandshoe Sammy. People used to follow him and shout at him. I remember when he died they had to ask people to go to his funeral because he didn’t know anybody. Somebody went round the doors telling people, and a lot of the neighbours went.

Some Sources and Further Reading

Holder, Geoff, Haunted Dundee (Stroud, 2012).

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Celtic Relics - The Kingoldrum and Guthrie Bells

   This post concentrates on those evocative but elusive ancient items associated with the ancient church in Scotland, Ireland and elsewhere, hand bells.  Previous posts have mentioned several of these which were located in Angus.  St Medan's Bell was associated with Lintrathen and Airlie and there are records of its hereditary keeper, who resigned it to the Ogilvy family, in the 15th century.  Tragically, it was mistaken for scrap metal in a local sale in the 19th century and destroyed.  The Lindsay family owned St Fillan's Bell, though its hereditary keepers were the Durays of Durayhill, dempsters of the Laird of Edzell.  Sadly, this bell has also been lost.  Francis Eeles described the two forms of early bells from the Celtic tradition.  The first type was formed from a sheet of iron bent into a quadrangular shape, with rivets up one or two sides, coasted with bronze or copper, with a handle on the top.  A later type was more regularly bell-shaped, made by a complete casting.  Around 20 early quadrangular bells made of iron or bronze have been survived in Scotland, and around twice as many from Ireland, and the consensus among scholars is that they were brought into north and eastern Pictish territories by the family of Iona.

   Hand-bells were the only type known during the early medieval period as the technology necessary for casting free hanging bells such as were later used in church towers etc. was not known.  Hand-bells, whatever their precise use, were rung by striking, rather than being made with clappers.

The Kingoldrum Bell

Detail of crucifixion from sculptured stone at Kingoldrum.

      The church and lands of Kingoldrum, north-west of Kirriemuir, were one of the early royal grants to Arbroath Abbey  in the early 12th century and seems to have been an established power centre as there are fragments of sculptured stones there (though there are no records of the site in earlier records). While the kirk of the parish  (which is no longer in use) was built in 1840 it sits roughly on the same site as its medieval predecessor, on a prominent mound and within a large, circular graveyard, which may indicate a very early date, though to my knowledge there has been no archaeological investigation to confirm this.  Like Airlie, Kingoldrum was dedicated to St Medan, who had an attested early cult locally, and there was a well (now lost) dedicated to this cleric nearby.  Gaelic seemed to flourish alongside Scots for a long period in this locality.

 In 1843 an old scellach or bell, made of sheet metal, was found here.  A bronze chalice and glass bowl were recovered beside it. Warden reports that:

A curious bronze cross and chain were found in a stone cist near the Church.  These and the bell were presented to the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries by the Rev. Mr Haldane, the minister of the parish, but the chalice and bowl have disappeared.  In another cist was a skeleton doubled up, with a rude bronze armlet on one of its wrists.

   The Kingoldrum Bell is now housed in the National Museums of Scotland (NMAS KA3).  Incidentally, the Rev. James Ogilvy Haldane was minister of the parish from 1836 and died in 1891. The enthusiastic minister also donated other finds from his parish to the Museum of Antiquities:  an axe and urn (in 1880 and 1887 respectively), fragments of sculptured stones and metal relics (1867), and, most significantly, a beautiful carved stone ball in 1884, further enhancing the rich archaeology of the area.  His father, William Haldane, had been minister of Kingoldrum before him.

Ball of conglomerate (3" diameter) found in Kingoldrum by the Rev. Halldane.

   Daniel Wilson reports the finding as follows:

This ancient bell was dug up in 1843, and contained, in addition to its detached tongue, a bronze chalice, and a glass bowl - the latter imperfect.  the bell is of the usual square form, made of sheet iron, which appears to have been coated with bronze, though little of this now remains.  It measures 8 by 7 inches at the mouth and 9½ inches high, exclusive of the handle.  Unfortunately the value of the discovery was not appreciated, and both the chalice and the bowl, it is feared, are now lost.

     In Scotland in Early Christian Times, Anderson adds the following, lamenting the loss of the other unique items found:

A curious cross-shaped ornament or mounting, decorated with enamel and a portion of a bronze chain of S-shaped links, dug up near the place where the bell was found, and three sculptured stones from the same site, are also in the Museum.  It is impossible to determine with certainty what the two articles, which are described as a chalice of bronze and a bowl or goblet of glass, may have been.  We can only regret their loss, all the more to be deplored that nothing answering to this description has ever been found in connection with any other remains of the Christian period.  No chalice of the early church exists in Scotland. [The  metal finds mentioned here were donated by Haldane in 1867.]
Kingoldrum finds, illustrated in Scotland in Early Christian Times.


The Guthrie Castle Bell

   The ancient bell which was kept (for centuries, one assumes) at Guthrie Castle is now in the National Museums of Scotland (NMAS 1922: 40). It is interesting that we have another example here in a church relic in the hands of a secular landowning family, which means that the sacred object was intimately connected with the hold a particular kindred had over the land they owned. Unlike Kingoldrum, there does not seem to be much evidence that Guthrie was an important focal point of secular or ecclesiastic power in the Pictish era or immediately afterwards.  The Guthries, like the Ogilvys, were a family whose name originated in Angus. However, although they held Guthrie itself and various other local estates, they did not become enobled or play such a prominent part in national events like either the Ogilvys or the Lindsays.
  The Guthrie Bell is one of only two enshrined bells which have survived in Scotland.  (The other was from Kirkmichael-Glassary and is also now in Edinburgh.)  Eeles confirms this bell is of the earlier type, described above, and must have been both early in date and associated with an important early saint, from the 8th century or earlier.  His unsupported claim that the bell and shrine must have originated in either the west or the north of Scotland can certainly be challenged. 

   The bell itself is made from iron and stands 8 and a half inches high.  Its shrine completely covers it  and is made up from four plates richly decorated by ornaments.  There are indications that the shrine has been renovated several times. There is an inscription on the shrine which reads Johannes dlexandri me fieri feisit, and made have been made in the 15th or 16th century reconstructions.  Francis Eeles summarises his thoughts on the history of the two objects:

The bell itself is probably the relic of some important saint whose
fame came down till late in the mediaeval period. It may well date from
before the ninth century.
It was probably enshrined early in the twelfth century, to which
period the figure of our Lord crucified and the small apostle, probably
St John, belong.
In the fourteenth century the silver plate with its embossed decoration
was made and the crucifix and attendant figures were remounted upon it.
Late in the fifteenth century or early in the sixteenth, John the son
of Alexander made a second reconstruction, changing the position of
some of the figures and adding others.
In the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries the loss of some figures may
have occasioned a further re-arrangement of the rest in the manner
in which they now exist, including the refixing of the inscription plate
upside down.

The Guthrie Bell shrine, based on illustration in Anderson's Scotland in Early Christian Times.

Selected Works and Sites Consulted

Anderson, Joseph, Scotland in Early Christian Times, The Rhind Letters in Archaeology, 1879 (Edinburgh, 1881).

Bourke, Cormac, 'The Hand-bells of the early Scottish Church,' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 113 (1983), 464-8.

Catalogue of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (revised edition, Edinburgh, 1892).

Eeles, Francis C.,  'The Guthrie Bell and its Shrine,' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 60 (1926), 409-20.

Laing, Lloyd, Late Celtic Britain and Ireland, c. 400-1200 AD (London, 1975).

Warden, Alexander, Angus or Forfarshire, volume 4 (Dundee, 1884).

Wilson, Daniel, 'Primitive Scottish Bells,' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, colume 1 (1851-54), 18-23.

Silver plate attached to front face of the Guthrie Bell.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Angria the Pirate - Dundonian Scourge of the Indian Ocean?

On the face of it,  regarded phonetically, Angria seems a good name for a historical pirate and the name is associated with a particular seafarer in the Indian Ocean of the 18th century who successfully defied the might of the English East India Company for nearly four decades.  The original behind the character was Kanhoji Angre (otherwise Conajee Angria), who was certainly a native of the Indian sub-continent.  He was admiral of the Konkan navy on the western side of India and died undefeated in 1729.  What are we to make of then in the claims in various sources that a British naval commander encountered Angria the Pirate in this region in the year 1750 and found out - astonishingly - that the apparently Asian seaman had an incredibly detailed knowledge of his home town.

   According to the account in Dundee Delineated (1822), in the year 1750, a certain Captain Crichton of Dundee was 'captured by Angria, the famous East India Pirate' and the following strange conversation between the two men took place:
Angria. - Where do you originally come from?
Crichton. - From Dundee, in Scotland.
Angria. - Ay! ay! from Dundee!!! Then pray, where does the Cross of Dundee stand?
Crichton. - Near the west end of the large square, opposite the new Town-house.
Angria. - How many steps are in it?
Crichton. - Six steps, and all go round about it.
Angria. - Quite right.  Where stands Monk's holm?
Crichton. - On the south side of the Nethergate, and east from the Hospital, opposite to   Girzie Gourlay's stable.
Angria. - Right again.  Where stands the Machlin Tower?
Crichton. - Just at the west end of the broad of the Murraygate, on the north side, where  they have lately erected a public Well, - to be called the Dog Well, from Archibald Doig, a merchant, who has been at the expense of erecting a dog on the top of it, cut out of a solid stone.
Angria. - I am much obliged to you for this information, being news to me.  But, pray, where stands St Pauls?
Crichton. - On the south side of the Murraygate, immediately opposite the Machlin Tower.
Angria. - Do you know St Roche?
Crichton. - Yes.  We call it Semmirookie.  At the east end of the Cowgate, on the north side, near the Den burn.

     Upon which Angria answered. - Well, Captain Crichton, because we are townsmen, I give you your liberty and your ship in a present.


   Before looking at the background of this extraordinary story, it's as well saying that the truth or otherwise of this legend has entirely eluded me so far.  Following the death of Kanhoji in June 1729, the dynasty was inherited by his eldest son Sukhoji who ruled until his death in 1733.  The Angrian territories were later divided between other brothers and half-brothers, which was the situation still when Captain Crichton encountered his Scottish 'Angria' in 1750.  

   The story of the encounter between Crichton and Angria, whether fictitious or not, was repeated in various printed sources in the 19th century, such as Charles Rogers' Traits and Stories of the Scottish People, and even made it into the footnotes of the Dundee poet Joseph Lee's Tales O' Our Town in 1910.  nearer to the time of Dundee Delineated was James Edward Alexander's work Travels from India to England (1827), which reports:

We passed the island of Severndroog, of Golden Rock, the strong hold of the famous pirate Angria, who (which is not generally known) was a native of Dundee, in Scotland.  He was originally the admiral of the Mahratta fleet, and afterwards cruised on his own account.  He and his descendants were the terror of this coast for many years, and caused it to bear the appellation of "the Pirate  Coast".
    The truth behind the matter eludes me.  Strangely, and probably coincidentally, Charlotte Bronte's juvenile adventure tales set in a fictional land called Angria, features a character named 'Sir John Martin Dundee'.  

   Did a Dundonian really serve with the successors of Angria and possibly even adopt his family name.  Like the origins of that other Dundonian pirate Captain Kidd, the truth is out there somewhere, but buried as covertly as an old sea dog's treasure chest.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Lady of Three Castles: Marion Ogilvy

   Marion Ogilvy, a daughter of the noble house of that name in Angus, lived a long life and was associated with the three houses mentioned in the title of this post (and is said to haunt several of them).  She is otherwise principally known as being the common law wife of Cardinal David Beaton and the mother of his children, but she is otherwise little known in her own right.  There does not even seem to be a surviving portrait of Marion, though images survive of Beaton.

   Marion's father was Sir James Ogilvy of Lintrathen who was made Lord Ogilvy of Airlie in 1491, just before being sent as an ambassador to Denmark by King James IV.  Around this time he married his fourth wife, Janet, likely the daughter of Robert, second Lord Lyle, a Refrewshire landholder.  Marion and her full sister Janet probably grew up at Airlie Castle and Marion at least must have had faint memories of her father, who likely died in 1504.  One of nine children, her half-brother John became second Lord Ogilvy and was nearly four decades older than her.  The later head of the family and a close contemporary was John, fourth Lord Ogilvy, her great-nephew.

View of Melgund Castle from Jervise's Memorials of Angus and the Mearns

    Marion would have been a vital and well-known personality in the area as she remained in Angus throughout most of the course of her life, unlike many other noblewomen who were obliged to marry husbands far away. She built up a considerable portfolio of properties in Angus during her lifetime and strongly defended her rights to rents and ownership of land in the courts when necessary.  In matters of property, the historian Margaret Sanderson points out, she was 'incorrigibly litigious, a habit she may have learned from her mother' (Mary Stewart's People, Edinburgh, 1987, p. 7).  Among the Ogilvy family papers there is a surviving document by Marion, signed Mary Ougylvy, dated at Airlie on 6th August 1525, where she describes herself as 'ye dochter executrix and intromittour of Jean Lyle Ladie Ogyluy my modyr'.

   David Beaton was a Fife man, but when he became appointed Abbot of Arbroath in 1524 the area may not have been entirely unfamiliar to him.  His branch of the Beatons in fact originated in Angus.  If he had not known Marion before, he must have encountered her between this date (when he recently returned from Europe) and Feb 1526 when there is a record of her being with Beaton in Edinburgh.  By this time Marion was over thirty and possibly beyond standard marriageable age.Whether the couple married or not is not known, but the church was of course more of a profession than a calling to the future cardinal and it was common for administrators like him to have families and children and defer their full acceptance of religious ordination.  He and Marion mostly lived in Angus, where there is widespread traditions about him, mainly attached to castles he is supposed to have inhabited (see below).  Marion Ogilvy's main home in the 1520s and 1530s was Ethie Castle, near Arbroath, which she seems to have held in life-rent (granted to her on 22nd May 1528).  Among her land holdings nearby was the Kirktoun of St Vigeans.  

   Beaton acquired the lands of Melgund in 1542 and a castle was built there.  Marion, styled Lady Melgund, received a tack of the thirds of Melgund in 1575.  When she died in that year one of her sons, David Betoun of Melgund, became one of her executors. (He married Margaret, daughter of Lord Lindsay of the Byres.)

   In revenge for the death of the Protestant preacher George Wishart, the Cardinal of Scotland was killed by insurgents at St Andrews Castle in May 1546.  Marion was apparently at St Andrews when the Cardinal was assassinated; John Knox states that she just escaped the castle by the privy postern before the attackers entered the building.  She returned to Melgund after his death but did not long remain unattached.  She appears in records in June 1549 as 'Marion Ogilvy, the Lady of Melgund, the relict of the umquhill William Douglas'. It is probably that he died at the Battle of Pinkie on 10th September 1547. Also in 1549 there is an odd hint of trouble when, on 26th November 1549, she was charged with 'interlymning the Queen's Grace letters' and was obliged to give surety.  But this trouble seems to have passed and she lived peacefully thereafter. The Lady of Melgund died in mid 1575.  An Ogilvy to the end, she was buried according to the wishes of her will 'in the Ile of the Paroch Kirk of Kennell quhair my predecessouris lyis'.  There is no sure record of the cause of Marion's death, though there is an untrustworthy tradition that it was not natural.  The writer Elliot O'Donnell wrote (in Rooms of Mystery, London, 1931, p. 22):

Her vested in mystery, there being no very sure foundation for the rumour, though it persisted, that she had met with foul play, after being kept in an underground chamber, the approach to which was through a secret subterranean passage.

David Beaton

   Marion and David had  eight children.  One son, Alexander, gained the Angus estate of Baikie from the disinherited Lyons, but lost it when the Glamis family were restored to their rights in 1543.  The eldest daughter of the couple was Margaret, who married David Lindsay, the future 10th Earl of Crawford, in some magnificence at Finavon Castle, bringing with her a huge tocher of 4000 merks.  Despite the glorious celebration the marriage was not a success and the estranged Margaret later went to live with her mother at Melgund Castle.  Another daughter, Agnes, married locally.  Her husband, John Ochterlony, owned the estate of Kelly, near Arbroath.  Her second husband was the Aberdeenshire laird George Gordon of Gight  (through their issue she is an ancestress of the poet Byron).  Elizabeth Beaton meanwhile married Alexander Lindsay of Vayne in Angus.  Other children of Ogilvy and Beaton included the brothers George (who possibly died in childhood), James, and John.

The Many Castles of Marion and the Cardinal?

The castles detailed below have various levels of connection with Marion Ogilvy and Cardinal Beaton, though they are interesting for their own histories.  Marion herself likely only inhabited the castles of Airlie, Ethie and Farnell, but the other houses here have some connection with either her or Beaton, albeit some are spurious.

Balfour Castle

      Balfour Castle in the parish of Kingoldrum was the home of a branch of the Ogilvys.  All that survives of it is a single circular tower, 6 storeys high, attached to which is a mid 19th century farmhouse.  Some surviving walls were torn down to make way for this modern building. The roof of the tower has been severed at a slant with a sloping roof and may have been several stories higher, though whether this was done at a remote date or in more recent times is disputed.   The Dorward family gave the lands here to the Abbey of Arbroath in the 13th century, and following the Ogilvys the Fotheringhams later owned the property.  Jervise (Memorials of Angus and Mearns, I, p. 21) states that it was in the hands of the Ogilvys from at least 1478 and that a likely builder of the stronghold was Walter Ogilvy, third son of Lord Ogilvy, brother of Marion Ogilvy.

Balfour Castle


   Claypotts is a wonderfully complete Z-plan castle now encompassed within the eastern suburbs of Dundee.  Dating from the mid 16th century it was built by the Strachan family, then passed through the hands of different branches of the Grahams.  Following the forfeiture of the Claverhouse Grahams the building passed to the Marquis of Douglas and was given to the state in the 1920s.  Despite its relatively well-preserved condition, Claypotts' charm has not endeared itself to every observer.  The venerable historian Alexander Warden sniffily comments, 'We are at quite a loss to understand how such a building of contracted extent could have supplied the wants of a landed family' (Angus or Forfarshire, volume 4, 139).   More pertinent to the subject of this piece, it is said that the castle is particularly haunted at Halloween, was once the home of a Brownie, and more particularly is the home of a White Lady who appears once a year, waving a handkerchief from an upper window every 29th May.  Was this Marion Ogilvy, as local tradition insisted?  According to A. H. Millar:

The story was that Cardinal Beaton built Claypotts for his beloved, and that from the upper window she could signal across the Tay to St Andrews Bay, to warn her priestly lover that she was longing for his return.  And on the 29th of May, 1546, she had waved her spotted kerchief in vain from the window of Claypotts, for her lover was then lying stark, cold, and still in the courtyard of St Andrews Castle, ruthlessly slain by some of those who had been his dearest friends... And thus every year...the White Lady of Claypotts endures her weary vigil...It is useless to assert that David Beaton never had anything to do with Claypotts... (Haunted Dundee, 1923, 117).

   Churlish to add, I suppose, that Claypotts Castle was not even built at that date.

Claypotts Castle


   Colliston Castle survives entire and is in private hands.  Like Farnell, it is in the hinterland of Arbroath Abbey and was under the ownership of that institution. Built on a similar Z-plan like Claypotts, the building features a 'priest hole', suggesting Catholic ownership in the 17th century. The castle dates from the 16th century there is a tradition that it was built by Cardinal Beaton, but the facts are uncertain.  The estate was bestowed upon the Guthries by Beaton (probably following his daughter's marriage into the family) and the castle and lands passed through several families before coming into the hands of the Stuarts during the early 20th century.  A notable later owner was Gordon Stuart, who died in 2017 aged 91, a remarkable linguist who spoke 28 languages.

Colliston Castle


   Another fine house which has survived as a living castle is Ethie, which had been extensively remodelled from the 16th to the 19th centuries and has been sold in its recent history. Possibly originating in the 14th century, the castle was the property of the monks of Arbroath  and therefore came into the hands of Beaton.  At the Reformation there was a rumour that the monks hid their church vessels, plates and vestments in the walls of the building.  After a period of ownership by the Maxwells it was in the ownership of the Carnegie Earls of Northesk from 1565 to 1928.  It has latterly operated as a hotel.

   The ghosts in the castle include an anonymous Grey lady and Cardinal and Chancellor Beaton himself.  He is experienced as a noisy resonance near what used to be his own chamber, draging his gouty leg along the passageways apparently. A third ghost (now laid) was that of a young child which child could be heard crying at night. Some people thought they heard  a wheeled toy being pulled across the floor in one particular room in the castle. Eventually, a small skeleton was uncovered and, beside it, the remains of a toy wooden cart. The pathetic remains were buried and this ghost of was no longer heard at Ethie.

Ethie Castle


   Farnell Castle near Brechin was said to have been in a ruinous condition in 1570 (in a report made to Lord Ogilvy).  It also later came into the hands of a branch of the Carnegie family (in 1623) and in the mid 19th century was restored to some extent and used as a home or hospital for former workers on the family estate, or 'allotted as a free dwelling to some infirm or indigent people', as the New Statistical Account reported. The building may be the successor of a very early structure and the site became the home of the bishops of Brechin. Its ecclesiastical associations perhaps explain why it does not feature much in any tumultuous episodes in the history of Angus.  More recent use has seen the castle used as a school and tea-room on occasions and it was recently offered for residential rent.  Some sources state that Beaton owned the castle, but details are hard to come by.

Farnell Castle


   Judging my her self-styled title of Lady of Melgund, this was Marion's favourite, or at least most frequented habitation in the latter part of her life.  The estate of North Melgund (Aberlemno parish) had been in the inheritance of the Annand family, and Janet Annand married the Cardinal's older brother James in the 1520s.  Following the death of his brother, David Beaton purchased the lands. Melgund remained in the Beaton family until the 1630s, when it was acquired by the Marquis of Huntly.  Later the last Gordon owners of the castle all mysteriously vanished one evening, leaving an uneaten meal on the tale and Melgund itself like a land-bound Mary Celeste.  The castle's beginnings are also said to be uncanny.  During the latter part of the 20th century the castle was fully restored and is now again inhabited.

Melgund Castle


   The ruins of Vayne Castle stand on the north bank of the Noran Water and have several things in common with some of the buildings above:  it was a stronghold of the Carnegies (Southesk branch) and had little actual connection with either David Beaton or his common law wife. The Lindsay family may have had an interest in the estate before them.  Now a ruin, the castle was plundered over the course of time for building materials by local farmers, one of whom used gunpowder to gain his stone work.  Buried treasure is allegedly another feature of its story.  Jervise in Land of the Lindsays (p. 202) says:

a deep dungeon is said to be below, into which the family, before taking their final departure, threw all their treasure of money and plate! This chamber has been often sought for, and only one person is believed ever to have found it.  When about to descend in search of the valuables, however, he was forcibly thrust from the mouth of the yawning gulf by an uncouth monster in the shape of a horned ox, who departed in a blaze of fire through a big hold in the wall (still pointed out!) and, before the terrified treasure-seeker could recover himself, the chasm which he had sought so hard to discover, was again shut from his view!
   Concerning the supposed connection with the cardinal, Alexander Warden writes (in Angus or Forfarshire, III, p. 274):

Tradition points to Cardinal Beaton as the builder of Vayne Castle, but
this is not the case, and he does not appear ever to have had any connection
with it. It also points to a deep pool in a dark cavern in the river, near the
Castle, called Tammy's Hole or Cradle, as the spot where one of his sons fell
over the precipice and was drowned. A boy of the name may have been
drowned in the pool, and the name originated from the event, but he was no
son of the Cardinal and his fair friend.
   The story may possibly have its origins in the circumstance of Beaton and Marion Ogilvy's daughter marrying Alexander Lindsay of Vayne.  Whether the tale relates to one of their children is unknown.

Vayne Castle