"Grisly Draeden sat alane
By the cairn and Pech stane;
Billy wi' a segg sae stout,
Says - 'I'll soon turn Draeden out' -
Draeden leuch, and stalk'd awa,
And vanish'd in a babanqua."
This rhyme, which I picked up when a boy from an old man (David Donaldson), who posessed a rich collection of old sayings, songs, and rhymes, which I never heard anywhere else, evidently relates to a large cairn which was situated about half-way between two streams (Draeden and Billyburn), on the farm of Little Billy, in the parish of Buncle. The cairn was surrounded, except on the south-west side, by a circle of large whin stones, many of which would have weighed several tons. At the distance of about 200 yards to the east of this cairn stood a large block, of a reddish sort of granite, which the old man already mentioned used to call "The Altar." The cairn is now removed, but this stone still stands in its original situation.
It is probable that the circle of stones surrounding the cairn had constituted, in remote times, a place of Druidical worship: and it is also probable that the small stream, a little to the north of the site of the cairn, derives its name Draeden, from this circumstance; the affix draed being similar in sound to Druid, and den, a dean or vale - The Druid's Vale.
When a moss, which skirted this stream, was begun to be drained about twenty years ago, many pieces of oak were dug out; and I recollect of being shewn, near its northern extremity, a quagmire or babanqua, with a slit or opening in the middle of it, on which no grass or any other plant grew, owing to the constant oozing of the water from its bottom, and into which, it was said, a horse and his rider had sunk, and were never more seen.
[..] It is probable, I think, that this curious rhyme has some distant allusion to the introduction of Christianity into our island, to the discomfituer of a dark and horrid superstition, which formerly held in bondage the souls and bodies of our Pagan progenitors.
It is probable not, I think. But I do love how he spins pagan weirdness out of the elemental boggy environment. I can sympathise at least. From Mr Henderson's reporting of 'Popular Rhymes of Berwickshire' in the Scottish Journal, 1848.
The distance of the Hall from the Whitadder on the north, was two hundred yards, down a very steep bank. There is a deep hollow on the west, with a small run of water in it. This place has been sometimes called Woden, or Odin's Hall, but for what purpose it was erected nobody can tell. It is now completely levelled with the soil, and most of the stones have been removed. In the tradition of the neighbourhood, Edin's Hall is said to have been the residence of a giant - and Cockburn-Law, on the northern slope of which it stood, is reputed to have been the last place where the Picts made a determined stand in Scotland! G.H.
..Edin's Hall, which at that time present little beyond a green mound, with a little rough masonry visible here and there, in the centre of an extensive system of earthworks. Local tradition connected them with a certain giant who, "once upon a time," made it his abode, and lived, as giants were wont to do, on his neighbours. Returning one day with a bull over his shoulders, he was incommoded by a pebble in his shoe, and jerked it to the side of the opposite hill, where it is still to be seen in the form of a good-sized boulder.
The history of the building is totally unknown. The ordinary name is Eetin's Hald; though usually presented in books as Edin's Hall or Ha'. Antiquaries speculate on its having been a palace of Edwin, king of Northumbria in the seventh century - the same prince from who Edinburgh is supposed (altogether gratuitously) to have taken its name.
It is to be feared that here an obvious meaning of the name has been overlooked. The Etin, in old Scottish tradition, is a giant (from the Danish Jetten:) thus we hear in our early national literature, of the tale of the Red Etin. Sir David Lyndsay, in his Dreme, speaks of having amused the infancy of King James V. with 'tales of the Red Etin and Gyre-carling.'
Considering that the people of Lammermuir have a fireside story representing Eetin's Hald as having been anciently the abode of a giant, who lived upon the cattle of his neighbours, and did not always respect their own persons - whose leap, too, they shew in a narrow part of the streamlet near by - it is rather strange that the name of the place has not been detected as meaning merely the Giant's Hold.
The red-etin is a monstrous personage, supposed by the common people to be so named on account of his insatiable penchant for red or raw flesh. [...] He is still a popular character in Scotland, and is supposed to go about searching for what he may devour, and constantly exclaiming, as in the story of Jack and the Bean Stack,
Snouk Butt, Snouk Ben,
I find the smell of Earthly men.
Snouk signifies, to search for with the nose like a dog or hog, and here communicates a dreadful idea of the personal habits of the Red-etin.
16/03/2013 - Parked car at start of forest track on the east side of The Mount (NT 1001 4143). Short climb on pretty snowy tracks lead to the cairn on top. Not much to see cairn wise, small modern cairn on top of it, but the walk was nice with good views over to Broughton Heights.