Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Devil At Large

Evidence of the malicious activity of Satan has left its mark on the Angus landscape.  Near the A94, east of Finavon village, is a hollow place in a field named the Deil's Hows.  Eighteenth century observers reported that large pieces of earth - weighing up to 150 and 160 lbs. - were regularly thrown up from the ground here without any visible cause.  Local people knew that Auld Nick was the culprit.
   In the grounds of Kinnaird Castle is the Deil's Den, sometimes haunted by a satanic coach, and there is a second Deil's Den at Letham.  The evil one was particularly active in the caves and cliffs on the coast near Arbroath.  The Deil's Head is a large stack of rock, while the Deil's Chair is a strangely formed rock near the entrance of the Dark Cave.  In the Smuggler's Cave are the Deil's E'en, and on Auchmithie beach is the Devil's Letterbox, should anyone feel the need to post a missive to the evil one.  Near this there is the Devil's Grindstone, which makes a peculiar sound when the wind is in the right (or the wrong?) direction.  When fishermen here hear this sound they refused to go to sea because it meant that one of them would drown that day if they did.


The Deil's Head

   The Devil once played a trick on a Lundie man one summer evening several centuries ago.  Sitting on a hillock, he had just finished playing his shepherd's pipes when he heard, to his astonishment, his tune being repeated back to him note for note.  There was not a living soul nearby, so he got up fearfully, convinced that the Devil was in that place.  He smashed his pipes and could never afterwards be persuaded to touch a musical instrument.

   The Rev. Thomson, minister of Lethnot from 1685 to 1715, often did battle with Satan.  On one occasion when the local miller went out to waylay his mortal enemy, the farmer of Witten, his wife asked who would keep her company in his absence. 'The Devil, if he likes!' the miller shouted before he departed.  An hour or two later the poor woman saw Auld Hornie rise up through the earthen floor.  Her son fetched the minister and several neighbours,  all of whom smelled brimstone as they approached.  The minister fought with Satan and made him sink back through the floor.  Some people say the priestly wrestler was the Rev. John Row, a later incumbent of the parish.


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