Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell
Extracts of Statistics from the Annexed Estates for Western Strathearn (1755-56)
The Reports of the Annexed Estates (1755-69)
A Tour of Scotland - Thomas Pennant (1769)
Seismic Activity (1789)
Account of 1791-99 vol-11 - Comrie, County of Perth
Archibald MacNab (1734-1816)
Henry Dundas (1742-1811)
Sir David Baird of Seringapatam (1757-1829)
Companion and Useful Guide to the Beauties of Scotland – Sarah Murray (1799)
Roman Camp, Dalginross – October (1800)
Flash from the Caledonian Mercury – September (1814)
I've a Boat to Catch (1818)
A Picture of Strathearn - John Brown (1823)
St Fillan’s Highland Society (1827)
Letters from the Distant Past (1831 - 1859)
Comrie, St Fillans and Monivard (1837)
Statistical Account: Parish of Comrie (1838)
The Glen Lednock Census (1841)
The Queen’s Visit (1842)
The Road to Comrie (1857)
For the Sake of Nelly Fergus (1860)
From an Unknown Guidebook-circa (1892)
Tales of Derring Do
Soldier, Soldier, won’t you marry me wi’…
The Adventures of Paddy or Highland Peter
A Serious Business
Mail Order Bride
The Man with the Powerful Voice
Double Entry bookkeeping
Hey, Gie’s ma Haun…or Murder Most Foul
Kate Mackenzie's Terrible Deeds
Watty and Meg Drummond
The Day of the Penny Wedding
The MacArthur's were there before the Hills
The Beggar's Badge
A Pane by any other name can be a Pain!
The Powder Keg
The Coo didnae hae ony Teeth!
The Green Lady of Glen Lednock
The Queen of Tynasithe
The Great Wall of Comrie
Whisky, You're the Devil
A Wee Rumble
A Whale of a Time
An Encounter of the Third Kind
Getting Stoned in Comrie
Hanging about Comrie
It's Whisky in the Jar
Picking Other Folks' Brains
Porridge for Breakfast
Tarred and Buttered
The Twa' Brithers
There’s a Hare in my Soup
Yer bum's oot the Window
18th & 19th Century
The Green Lady of Glen Lednock
Throughout the length and breadth of the country superstition was rampant. People believed in warlocks and witches, cloud configurations, signs above doorways, and on walls. This was further enhanced by warnings from the Church about the Devil, toothless hags who mixed potions and herbs, people who had the gift of the “second sight, and those who could put a hex on someone or animal. Generally speaking it was only the brave, and probably, the foolhardy, that went out of doors during the hours of darkness.
A strange look from someone or someone making a sign on a horse or cow was no light matter to be sloughed off. Soothsayers and those possessed with magical powers had either a magnetic or repellent appeal. They were probably akin to modern-day politicians! They were people to be avoided and only approached with great caution.
They came in many varieties. Some, like witches, had ropes made out of human hair pleated and stranded which they wrapped around their waists. Others, like the witches in “Macbeth” similarly attired, mixed their potions over boiling cauldrons stirring the mixture, and every now and again chucking in a rabbit’s foot, or semi-precious stone to add to the flavour, all the meantime muttering weird incantations. It is reminiscent of any Chancellor of Great Britain offering a new budget. Any witch or warlock would fulfill this task with ease and comportment!
Our tale, however, concerns several who were, for the prudent, to be avoided at all costs! They were called the “Green Ladies.” No, they were not parking meter attendants although they created the same reaction in the lives of ordinary folk. Essentially there were two categories: friendly and enemies. If they were friendly one supposes that was alright in that they would proffer good advice and minimise the risk of meeting them, or consulting them. However, if they were enemies then considerable caution had to be exercised (exorcised!) when coming across them. They were rather like lawyers!
Some would rap on your window and call out three times with some saying or cackle - this was a sure sign that someone in the house was going to die. Some would enter your house with their baby in their arms and wash it in blood in your front parlour beside the fireplace - this would indicate that your own baby would be dead by the morrow. Others used to watch over those dying with smallpox hastening their deaths and yet again, others who lived by streams of gushing water or pools where there was little sunlight. These water goblins or sprites, trolls who lived under bridges, fairies that gambolled in the woods could be either good or bad. All, however, had to be approached with great caution and considerable trepidation!
The River Lednock sources itself from the catchment area around Bowalker at the head of the glen and many of its feeder streams met just before the first major waterfall at Spout Rolla. In spate it was a sight to behold, but at all times a place where much caution was exercised, and to be avoided. It was the home to a water sprite that had lived there since time began and he was related to others who lived further down at the Deil’s Cauldron.
Spout (Sput) Rolla
Below Kingarth the river narrows and picks up momentum and is fluted into a gorge and then pours over a precipice into a pool called the Deil’s (Devil’s) cauldron. The spill is about thirty feet and the main flow of water does not really touch the rock sides. It is a noisy place and one can hardly hear another voice. It’s a place of natural power! And it contained a most unnatural power too in the form of an Urischidh - a real water sprite!
Standing close by the summit of Ben e Hone one day a long time ago there stood a man surveying the beauty all around. He was no ordinary man but was a brigand of the first order. His name was Stalker who came from Loch Tay and he was a freebooter par excellence. He was renowned throughout the area as being the best archer in Perthshire, and would not hesitate to kill at the drop of a hat.
On a previous occasion a party of men had been sent out by the Campbells of Breadalbane to kill or capture him. The instruction was loose as it did not matter which form occurred first! The party came across him chopping down a Birch tree and as he worked his way through the trunk he would wedge it so that when the time came he would remove the wedges and the tree would fall. The leader of the party of six men not knowing what Stalker looked like stopped and asked for directions. Stalker said he would help them if they helped him wedge the tree. They did so and were all gathered round the tree when Stalker pulled out the wedges already in place. This caused the tree to collapse on them and he killed them all with his claymore and dirk. He was, what is lightly referred to as...a fearsome man!
Below him and close by the Deil’s Cauldron another man was lingering. He was Evan Rhuadh (the red) Campbell of Lawers. By all accounts, which is strange for a Campbell, he was much loved, a champion swordsmen in his own right, and a good soldier. He was incredibly strong and it was said that he could move the standing stone called “Clach Eigrol” which stands on the straight road between Comrie and Cultibraggan! Both men knew each other and based their relationship on perfect hatred. Stalker drew an arrow, strung his bow and fired at poor Evan killing him on the spot with his body falling in to the Lednock. Perhaps the moral of the tale should be never to take a sword to an arrow fight! Strangely the Scots never learned this as was seen at Flodden and other fields!
Meanwhile back at Lawers there lived an old retainer of Campbell of Lawers, Ioin McIvor. He was an old soldier and was gifted with the second sight. He had seen Evan off in the morning warning him of impending danger, but the warning had fallen on deaf ears. When nightfall came and Evan had not returned the alarm was raised. A search party was put together and set out. Shortly thereafter the body was discovered and brought home in great sadness and deposited at the feet of Evan’s father. In great anguish Campbell demanded to know who was responsible for his son’s death.
The party that had found the body said that he had been found at the Deil’s Cauldron and that one of them, a retainer of Stewart of Ardvorlich, who had been fishing in the river, had seen a lady dressed in green who appeared to be guarding something. She beckoned to him and as he approached her she vanished and there at that very spot he found the body of Evan Rhuadh Campbell. Going down the river, no doubt at great haste, he met the search party and together they recovered the body and carried it to Lawers.
Years later Stalker, who had continued making a name for himself, returned on other business to the scene of the action. It was a cold winter’s day and the wind was howling around the glen and on passing the very spot that Evan had died at, he paused for a moment, perhaps reflecting on his steadiness with the bow. In the river a green lady appeared and beckoned him to approach. Paralysed with fear he became caught in her spell. She drew him to her into the water and there he drowned with his spirit mingling with that of his victim! And so ended the career of Stalker of Breadalbane!
According to legend the green lady never returned to the spot although her place was taken by another male sprite, an Urischid. He was a malevolent sod who destroyed whatever he could get his hands on. It was said that “when he had been successful in seizing anything fitted to cram his capacious maw, he was wont to cry out with a voice of thunder, to his kindred spirit at the fall in the upper glen – “Spirit of Rolla, send home my cauldron, that I may dress this prey that I have taken.” Many years later and after creating mayhem to passersby and the unwary, the Urischid met his match. Periodically plagues of one sort or another hit the land and as pickings by way of passers-by became limited our sprite wandered further afield. One cold day he approached a house in which lived an old woman who immediately recognised him for what he was. Old ladies sometimes can be quite fearsome and this one was no exception!” She invited him to sit beside the fire and when he was relaxed and comfortable she stirred the embers in the fireplace as if to put on a log. Gathering the red-hot ashes in a pan she threw it over his legs and not unexpectedly the sprite screaming jumped up and disappeared out the door...and was never seen again!
It is small wonder that sailors are anxious about mermaids and others about water sprites! In a farm purchased in Comrie at the turn of the century a spray of Rowan hung above the lintel on the door of the barn. This was designed to keep evil spirits out. Many know the little poem "rowan trees and red threed (thread), to gar (make) the witches tak (take) their speed.”
Underneath a floor in “Chattan” the bones of a dead pony were discovered. The house had at one time been used as a school and the carcass of the beastie had been placed there to keep spectres and the like away. When one adds on our feelings about Mistletoe, Rowan, Foxglove, Ivy and other plants, as well as not walking under ladders or crossing the path of a black cat or breaking a mirror...are we so different?
Any time I see a lady in green, however, I get a shiver down my back...she’s probably a parking warden...but she might be something else!