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

Folklore Posts by drewbhoy

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Standingstones (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Whilst visiting this stone I was lucky enough to meet a local lady walking her dog. She came from nearby Pepperhillock and told me two local myths.

The Ford.

This stone was used a marker to lead to another standing stone down on the banks of the River Dee. The stone pointed to a place were the Dee could be crossed. Unfortunately the stone was taken down years ago.


The standing stone at Standingstones farm is known locally as the husband. Slightly to the west is smaller stone known as the wife. It is said that as long as they stand together then the local residents will enjoy many happy days especially if they are married.

(It is aligned to Bennachie.)

Monk's Cairn (Cairn(s))

'Monk's Cairn is so-called solely because it marked the boundary of the land owned by the Abbey of Kinloss. The legend of its marking the spot where the monk of Grange was killed in a duel, is unfounded.'

W. Crammond, 1895.

Green Cairn (Hillfort)

'Kenneth the 2nd of Alba, King of Scotland was the son of Malcolm 1 of Alba, King of Scotland. He died at Finella's castle, Fettercairn, Scotland, possibly murdered. He is buried on the Isle of Iona, Argyllshire.

Kenneth the 2nd, of Scotland, gained the title Kenneth of Alba. He succeeded to this title during 971.

He was possibly killed by Finvela, a noblewoman, whose son was killed by the king. She is said to have lured Kenneth into her home promising to unmask traitors. In one room a statue connected to several hidden crossbows which were set to fire bolts from every side when a golden apple was lifted. After a great feast, at which wine flowed freely, Finvela took her guest to the fatal room and offered him a golden apple as a gesture of peace. As he lifted the apple, he was struck by a hail of bolts.'


Wells O' Wearie (Sacred Well)

Wearie Well

In a saft summer gloamin,
In yon dowie dell,
It was there we twa first met,
By Wearie's cauld well,
We sat on the brume bench,
And look'd in the burn,
But sidelang we look'd on,
Ilk ither in turn.

The corn craik was chirmimg,
His sad eerie cry,
And the wee stars were dreaming,
Their path through the sky,
The burn babbled freely,
Its love to ilk flower,
But we heard and saw nought,
In that blessed hour.

We heard and we saw nought,
Above or around,
We felt that oor love lived,
And loathed idle sound,
I gazed on your sweet face,
Tull tears filled my e'e,
And they drapped on your wee loof -
A warlds wealth to me.

Now the winter's snaw is fa'ing,
On bare holim and lea,
And the cauld wind is drippin,
Ilk leaf aff the tree,
But the snaw fa's not faister,
Nor leaf disna part,
Sae sune frae the bough, as
Faith fades in your heart.

Ye've waled oot another,
Your bridegroom to be;
But can his heart love sae,
As mine luvit thee?
Ye'll get biggings and maulings,
And monie braw claes;
But they a' winna buy back,
The peace o' past days.

Fareweel and for ever,
My first luve and laist,
May the joys be to come -
Mine lies in the past,
In sorrow and sadness,
This hears fa's once;
But light, as thy live, may
It fleet over thee.

Whistle - Binkie
The Piper Of The Party.

Druidstones (Stone Circle)

'The farmer then removed a stone circle nearby and paid a great price. All his cattle died of disease. Several cairns about 100 paces to the west were removed entirely.'

McPherson's Primitive Beliefs

(It is believed that the circle involved was Druidstones.)


I would think this is story between Bennachie and Tap O Noth Rhiannon is looking for.

'It is easy to see how this elemental landscape has generated legends. The causeway and the fort were built by the Devil or by Sir Andrew Leslie of Balquahain as a secure rape-camp for the local girls he abducted. In reality the causeway could be early medieval or prehistoric route to the fort. The giant Jock O Bennachie lived here. Little John's Length to the east of Craigshannoch is his bed; assuming he slept full-length he was 600ft 9183m) tall. North-west of Craigshannoch a shirt shaped surface is where he dried his clothes. The Giant threw boulders at TAP O NOTH, especially after its resident guardian stole his girlfriend Anne. Jock then met a strange woman he mistook for the Lady Anne; when they kissed he sank into an enchanted sleep beneath the mountain. Only when a certain woman finds the magical key will he be released. A man once found the key, but couldn't turn it in the great lock. He put his hat on the key to mark the place and went to get help. When the party returned, key, lock and hat had all vanished.'

McConnochie's Bennachie

Not to be outdone this prophecy became legend:

'Scotland will never be rich, be rich,
Till they find the keys of Bennachie,
They shall be found by a wife's ae son, wi ae e'e,
Aneath a juniper tree.'

Thomas The Rhymer

(3rd line translation "ae" means one and "wi ae e'e" is with one eye. Seems perfect english to me ye ken!)

Clach Na Gruagach (Natural Rock Feature)

"Quite often the offerings were of some foodstuff, particularly milk. Some of the stories were named after gruagach - supernatural beings who watched over cattle and dairy work - and offerings of milk were left at these stones in return for good harvests and other agricultural benefits. Offerings of milk were left at the Clach Na Gruagach on Colonsay. Marks on the stone were said to have been caused by ropes used to tie the gruagach to it."

Joyce Miller.

Magic and Witchcraft In Scotland.

Rothiemay (Stone Circle)

"Cup marks on the Rothiemay recumbent stone represented the Pole Star, the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and the brightest stars such as Artacus, Bootes, Aldebaran, Capella, Vega and Altair."

Revd. G. F. Browne.

On Some Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Dunecht House.

Nether Lauchentilly (Standing Stone / Menhir)

"A ley-line runs from, or at least an alignment, runs from the RSC west of the castle (Fraser) through a pair of standing stones close to the road and onwards east to the single menhir at Lauchentilly. The first two monuments can only be visited when the field is not in crop."

The New View From Over Atlantis.

John Michell.

Stone of Morphie (Standing Stone / Menhir)

"The magnificent Stone of Morphie sits next to the road through the farm where George Beatties ill fated romance took place. (he committed suicide after his betrothed dumped him) The 11ft monolith was once used as the core of a grain stack, and in that guise was blown down - along with the stack - by a hurricane in 1850. Six years later, digging prior to re-erection unearthed a skeleton. Folklorically, it marks the grave of the mythical Danish leader Camus.

The stone's surface bears the fingerprints of the local kelpie, who was also enslaved by the local laird to build the now-vanished Morphie Castle. This kelpie lived in the Ponage Pool in the (river) North Esk and achieved lasting fame in the poem John o 'Arnha', a kind of Kincardinshire version of Tam o' Shanter written by the tragic George Beattie. John Findlay, John o 'Arnha' was a boastful and authoritarian Town Officer whom Beattie knew well. The poem was turned into a play and performed at the Theatre Royal in Montrose in 1826, with the principal actor wearing Findlay's own red coat. The action concerns the fearless John who works his way up the supernatural food chain, besting the kelpie, a group of witches, and finally Old Nick himself."

Mysterious Aberdeenshire - Geoff Holder

'Stand aff, ye fiend, and dread my wraith,
Or soon I'll steek your een in death:,
Not you nor a' the hounds of hell,
Can my undaunted courage quell.'

John O' Arnha - George Beattie (1883 edition)

Court Stane (Standing Stone / Menhir)

"The irregularly-shaped Court Stane is one of those standing stones which attracts folkloric jetsam. The name could come from the site of an old feudal court of the Barony of Mondynes (which may mean there was a stone circle here - just like at Old Rayne); or perhaps it was emblematic of the authority of a Steward or Thane. More theatrically, it is said to mark where Duncan II was killed in 1094. In 2004 the stone was a bright white, courtesy of a tradition of unknown purpose maintained by the estate. In recent years the paint has not been renewed and the stone has reverted to its native grey."

Mysterious Aberdeenshire.

Geoff Holder.

Tomnaverie (Stone Circle)

This also has the name of "Tuam-an-fhamaire". Translated as the "Grave of the Giant".

The Place Names Of West Aberdeenshire

Clovenstone Farm (Natural Rock Feature)

"The persistent tradition is that witches were executed here; this maybe a memory of the fact that a court did judge a witch at the stone. 1595 had a case from 'This Court of ye Burgh of Kintore, holden at ye Cloven Stone'. In this instance the court acquitted two men of striking Isobel Cockie, on the self-defence grounds that she was 'in ane distemper, and they were forced to put her out of doors'. This was at least a year before she was investigated for witchcraft."

Extracts From The Record Books Of Kintore 1864

Cairnshee Woods (Cairn(s))

"A custom associated with the cairn in Cairnshee Wood ('cairnshee means cairn of the fairies'). Each midsummer's eve herdsmen set a huge bonfire to exorcise evil spirits and ensure the safety and prosperity of their flocks. In 1787, in remembrance of the ceremony during his childhood, Aleander Hog donated money to ensure the ritual continued. The spectators came from all over and consumed bread, cheese and ale. The custom finally lapsed in the 1930s."

Archibald Watt

The Highways and Byways Round Kincardine.

Kelpie's Stane (Natural Rock Feature)

"Somewhere near Dinnet was the Kelpie Stone. Childless women passed through its 18 inch (46cm) hole to concieve. A noble lady performed the task to no avail; only when she repeated it in the same direction as the river flow did the charm work."

MacPherson's Primitive Beliefs.

Huntly (Standing Stones)

"The Standing Stones of Strathbogie are two low stones at the rear of the Duke Of Richmond in The Square, are all that remain of a six-stone circle with a diameter of around 50 feet. The circle was clearly once a well-known landmark, as a court was held here in 1557 and in 1594 it was the rendezvous for the Earls of Argyll, Huntly and Errol before the Battle of Glenlivet. One stone bore a Pictish 'horseshoe' but this has now faded away.

The fountain, decorated with owls, is supposedly above a secret tunnel that leads to the castle; this is possibly a memory of the old well that once stood nearby."

Mysterious Aberdeenshire - Geoff Holder

(BigSweetie of TMA gets mentioned in this book)

The Peirk (Cairn(s))

"Gallows Hill cairn is a substantial prehistoric mound re-used as a place of execution by the Gordons of Lesmoir. In 1651 Sir William Gordon of Lesmoir admitted that he had heard that a part of his home-farm was dedicated to the Goodman, and so it was not worked; 'but he had a mind, by the assistance of God, to cause labour the same: Whereupon he was commended for his ingenuitie in declareing it, and exhorted to take paines shortly to have it laboured."

Presbytery Book Of Strathbogie

Wormy Hillock (Henge)

"The old road that ran through this area was known as 'Wormy Howe' because it was created by a giant worm as it set out to do battle with a rival near Bennachie. Worms or wurms are a type of dragon found folklorically in Scotland, Northern England and Scandinavia; they are hugh serpents lacking legs and wings, but otherwise well equipped with traditional draconic attributes such as jaws filled with razor sharp teeth, poisonous or fiery breath, and avoracious appetite for human flesh. Sadly the legend doesn't say if the two worms met, or what happened when they did. Presumably the shape of the henge prompted the belief that the worm had coiled up to have a nap here.'

James Taylor "The Cabrach" (1914)

Ninestane Rigg (Stone Circle)

"The second ghost said to haunt Hermitage castle is that of Lord Soulis - 'Bad Lord Soulis' or 'Terrible William'. Lord Soulis had a ghastly reputation indeed, for it was widely believed that he practised black magic and used the dungeons of the castle to hold young children from the surrounding area captive before incorporating them into his hideous rituals and eventually murdering them. People from the surrounding area gathered in force and stormed the castle taking him captive and binding him in chains. We are told that he was wrapped in lead and then thrown into a boiling cauldron to meet a horribly painful death.

Another version of the story of Terrible William says that he entered into a pact with the devil. He traded his soul in return for a licence to live however he pleased, indulging in whatever debaucheries took his fancy. Then, as he grew older and faced up to the inevitability of his approaching death, he panicked at the thought of the fiery furnaces of hell. It was in order to protect him from this fate that he was wrapped in lead and boiled by loyal subjects. This story seems even less credible than the first one."

Scottish Ghosts.

by Lily Seafield.

(a reworking of Rhiannon's post)

Isle Maree (Sacred Well)

"There is a healing well on an island in Loch Maree, which was used for curing lunacy as late as the nineteenth century. Coins and nails, as well as pieces of cloth and rag, were hammered into the trunk of a nearby oak tree. Oak trees were believed to be sacred, and may have reflected a pre-Christian belief.

Loch Maree, one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland, is also the site of a chapel and remains of a burial ground, which are believed to have been founded by St. Maelrubha, although there also appear to have been older pagan traditions associated with the site. Bulls were sacrificed here, as they were at Applecross, and later the custom was associated with St. Maelrubha's day, 21 April."

Joyce Miller.

Magic And Witchcraft in Scotland.
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Still doing the music, following that team, drinking far to much and getting lost in the hills! (Some Simple Minds, Glasvegas, Athlete, George Harrison, Empire Of The Sun, Nazareth on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

(The Delerium Trees)

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