The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

Torrylin

Cairn(s)

Folklore

At Torlin, on a green bank near the shore, there is an interesting specimen of the "elongated" chambered cairn. It is intersected from east to west by a row of vaults, consisting each of six unhewn slabs, from five to eight feet square. These vaults or chambers were filled with human bones, some of which, we were informed, were cleft as if from the blow of an axe or hatchet.

This cairn was partially removed some years ago by a modern Goth, who rifled the cells of their contents, and strewed them over his field. With daring irreverence, he selected one of the largest skulls from the ghastly heap, and carried it home with him; but scarcely had he entered his house when its walls were shaken as if struck by a tornado. Again and again the avenging blast swept over his dwelling, though not a sigh of the gentlest breeze was heard in the neighbouring wood.

The affrighted victim hastened to re-bury the bones in their desecrated grave, but day and night shadowy phantoms continued to haunt his mind and track his steps, and a few months after the commission of his rash deed, whilst riding along the high road towards Lag, he was thrown from his horse over a steep embankment, and dashed against the rocks of the stream beneath.

This tradition is well known in Arran, and has tended to deepen the feelings of superstitious dread with which these monuments are generally regarded.

It was with some feelings of trepidation, after listening to this fearful tragedy, that we proceeded to remove the stones and earth which filled the rifled cells of this ghost-haunted cairn; but a few marine shells, mixed with the small delicate bones of birds, were all we could discover to repay our labour.
p23 of 'The Antiquities of Arran' by John McArthur (1861).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th August 2007ce

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