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GR 144.082"*" ""'""■"•>' ^'"""V 
^i»ii™,l,!l™,'.?*~'°™ °' "le north-east 

3 1924 009 599 212 

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The Right Honourable Earl Bbauchamp, F.S.A. 


H. C. CooTB, Esq., F.S.A. 

W. R. S. Ralston, Esq., M.A. 

E. B. Tylor, Esq., LL.D. F.R.S. 


Edward Brabrook, F.S.A. 
James Britten, F.L.S. 
Dr. Robert Brown. 
Sir W. K. Drake, F.S.A. 
G. L. Gomme, F.S.A. 
Henry Hill, F.S.A. 

A. Lang, M.A. 

F. Ouvry, F.S.A. 

The Rev. Professor Sayce, M.A. 

Edward Solly, F.R.S., F.S.A. 

William .J. Thorns, F.S.A. 

W. S. W. Vaux, M.A. 

DIRECTOR.— William J. Thorns, F.S.A. 

TREASURER.— Sir William R. Drake, F.S.A. 

HON. SEC— G. L. Gomme, F.S.A., 2, Park Villas, Lonsdale Road, Barnes, S.W. 

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This book, with the exception of parts of Chapters 
XVIII. and XIX., has been giathered by myself from 
the mouths of the folk. Much of it I have been in 
the habit of hearing and marking from my earliest 
years. To all kind friends from whom I have gotten 
lore I give my hearty thanks. I cannot name them 
all, but my thanks are specially due to Mrs. Forbes 
and Mrs. Coutts, Banff; to the late Mrs. Watson, and 
to Mrs. Cardno, Fraserburgh, for help in Chapters 
XVI. and XXIII.— "Riddles" and "Countings-out." 
As to references to parallel customs elsewhere, I have 
noted only those which occur in the Society's publica- 
tions, and a few very obvious instances in Russian 
and Italian folklore. These I thought would assist 
members of the Society without altering the character 
of my collection. 

Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire, 
April, 1881. 

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Personal, pp. 1-3. 



Wlio present — Wto not permitted to be present — Cnstoms if two women with 
child in same house — A woman giving suck not allowed to seat herself on 
the edge of the bed on which the woman in labour lay — All locks opened in 
house during the time of labour — ^Whoso entered the house bade the birth 
God speed — Gave a draught of water if labour difficult — Some had luck in 
doing this — When doctor called — The " merry-mehf — " The Cryin Keb- 
back" — "The Cryin Bannock" — A piece of it carried home — Fairies' 
liking for human milk — Fairies carried off unsained or unchurched women 
— Anxiety of fairies to get possession of infants — Mother and child "sained" 
— Bible with bread and cheese placed below pillow — Bible and biscuit — 
Bread and cheese given away to friends — A fir-candle or a basket contain- 
ing bread and cheese placed on bed — A pair of trowsers hung up — Mother 
watched till churched — ChUd, till baptized — Mother not allowed to work 
till churched — Not allowed to enter a neighbour's house — Why prevented—- 
Mode of churching in Scotland — If unable to go to church what she did — 
Water first fetched from well by mother in a thimble — Or in a vessel of 
small size, pp. 4-6. 



A male child wrapped in a woman's shirt — A girl, in a man's — If operation 
reversed boy or girl never married — Palms of hands not washed — Live coal 
thrown into water in which new-born infant washed — Poured under founda- 
tion of dwelling-house-^Child when dressed turned three times heels over 
head — To prevent " f orespeaking "—Excessive praise— Modes of finding out 
" f orespeaking " — To prevent "evil eye"— Cure in casting ill— How to 
find out a " fairy changeling " — How to bring back the true child—" Teethin 
Bannock " — " Teethin Plaster " — Suck not given to a child when once 
weaned— Nails of fingers not cut— Bitten— Child that speaks before walkfaig 


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a liar — Something given to child on first entering a neighbour's house — 
The cradle — A child not put into a new cradle — A borrowed cradle — Cradle 
not placed on ground till carried into house, pp. 7-10. 



Baptism early administered — Eeasons for so doing — Name not pronounced till 
after baptism — Written and given to minister— Unbaptized infants not 
taken into heaven — Baptizing a sick infant — Minister "kills or cures" — 
System of registration, effect of on early baptism — ^Baptismal dress — 
Ceremonies connected with baptism — Gifts given by guests — Child must 
sleep in baptismal dress — ^Effect of water of baptism entering the eyes — 
Child ought to cry when water fell on its face — What done with the water 
of baptism — Drunk to strengthen the memory — Ceremonies if child carried 
out of house for baptism — Girl baptized first, when boy and girl baptized at 
one time — A girl brought to church and not baptized never married — 
JBhmrag, pp. 11-13. 



Rhyme on the face — On the brow, eye, nose, and mouth — On the fingers — On 
the legs — On taking ofE the child's boots — On the legs and feet — On various 
parts of the body — On giving the child food— On being undressed for bed 
— On getting sulky — On mounting » stick as a " horse " — On dandling a 
child on the knee — On two children placing themselves back to back and 
alternately lifting each other — Various — On the numbers up to twenty — 
" The Souters' Grace," pp. 14-20. 



The rule of the ring — Of a race — Of bargain-making — Of making a gift 

Acting the informer — Lying — Asking sweetmeats — When anything is 
found, pp. 21-2i. 



Days of the week for birth — A child born with a caul lucky — Possession of a 
caul or "selly hoo" lucky — Health of one bom with it could be divined from 
it — Child born with feet first doomed to be hanged — " The Broon Coo's 
Lick"— Strong growth of hair on the body — To find out if a person is proud 
by the hair — The hair when cut must be burned— Meaning of long slender 
fingers— Of large hands and feet—" Lucken Toes" — Meaning of second and 
third toes in a man being equal — Of white spots on the finger-nails Why 

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marriage-ring on ring-flnger — A black speck on tooth — Kinging in the ears — 
A glow in the ears — An itching in the eyes — In the nose — In the palm of 
the right hand — In that of the left — In the soles of the feet — Sneezing — The 
deaf and dumb — Their faculty of knowing the future — Consulted about 
distant friends — In love afEairs— Those of weak intellect, pp. 25-28. 



To dream of a white horse — A horse — A swine — Eggs — ^Fresh fish — Butter — 
Emit in season — Out of season — Fire — Water — Loosing a tooth — Being 
bitten by dogs or cats — One dead — Being dead by one unmarried coming 
marriage— Loosing shoes— Seeing one smeared with blood — Throwing the 
staff to find out the success of a journey — Unlucky to turn back when setting 
out on a journey — Meaning of anything forgotten when paying a visit— Bad 
manners to stir the fire in a neighbour's house — Etiquette at table when with 
one of higher rank — Unwillingness to give name on making a call — Token 
of servant soon leaving her situation — Her first work in her new home — 
Sudden hunger — " Hungry Hillock " — "Hungry folks' meat" in pot — In 
cooking stirring food from left to right, effect of — How cakes served up — 
On " the Right Side " — To whom served up otherwise — Straw in brogue — 
" Shee wisp " — Burned — Right stocking put on first — " Hansel " given on 
putting on a piece of new dress — A kiss given, " Beverage of New Claes " — 
Something given to a boy or girl on entering a neighbour's house — All sewing 
done on Sunday undone by the devil — Crooked sixpence in purse lucky — A 
present of a knife unlucky — Unlucky to sing before breakfast — Tea-stalk 
floating in cup — A black speck on a burning candle — A film of carbon on 
rib of grate— Fiery spots on the bottom of a pot, " Sodgers " — Theft of a 
five-pound note — How recovered — A nobleman's horses stopped— How 
relieved — Theft— Unwillingness to take back stolen property, pp. 29-33. 



Causes of Disease— Casting ill — " The 111 Ee"— Prayers— Forespeaking — ^Hidden 
grave — Sudden news — Fright— Cures — Men and women famed for secret 
wisdom — In certain families the power of curing certain diseases — Power 
went down — One family had power of extracting motes from the eye — 
Another, that of setting broken bones — Charming diseases forbidden by the 
Church — A lucky hand in dressing boils — Power of a posthumous child — 
Ability to show in a mirror the face of the one that cast ill — Cure of a man 
at Broadford, in Skye, by a wise woman — Woman's daughter would not 
receive the gift of healing — Some articles have in them a healing virtue — 
Willox "ball and bridle "— " The Ball"— "The Bridle "—Others cured only 
certain diseases — An " Ee-stehn " — An amber bead — Wells having curative 
powers — At Althash, near Fochabers — Pilgrimages to it first three Sundays 
in May— Fergan Well— Wallak Kirk— Pilgrimages to it forbidden by the 

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Chnrch— Chapels resorted to for cures— Forbidden by the Church— Clach- 
na-bhan— Cure of the "111 Ee"— Of Forespeaking— Casting the heart — 
Cure of sleepy ferer — Of epilepsy — Of rickets— Of lumbago, rheumatism, 
sprains—Of whooping-cough— Of eye disease — Of erysipelas or " rose " — 
Of sting of nettle— Of ringworm— Of toothache— Of warts— Of hiccup, pp. 



Building materials— Walls— Couples— Roofs— "Foonin pint"— Laying founda- 
tion—Refusal to give "foonin pint" avenged-" Hoose-heatin " — "Fire- 
kinlin " — Feast on entering a new house — Arrangement of apartments — 
Kitchen— Hearth— " Crook "— " Rantle-tree "— " Bole "— " Canle gullie "— 
" Saat-backet" — "Bench " — " Settle "—"Box-bed " —Windows—" Dog- 
jiole" — Hole for going in and out of hens — " Trance"— "But ein"— 
Furniture— Houses of fishing population — ^Houses with but one door for 
men and beasts — Ceremonies on leaving a house — How to take away the 
luck from next occupier — Throwing cat into house carried off disease if any 
left, pp. 50-5.S. 



The hearth — " The bait-pot " boiling over the fire — " The lit-pot " — Means of 
light — " Fir-ean'les " — Candle-stick — "The Peerman " or "Peer-page" — 
Oil-lamps — " Eely-doUy " — How evening passed — Women knitting, spinning, 
sewing — Men making candles from bog-fir, manufacturing harrow-tynes, 

&c. Scholars preparing school-lessons — Singing songs and ballads — Telling 

stories — Riddles — Visitors — Amusements — Beggars — " Quarterer " — The 
chapman — The tailor, pp. 54-58. 



Belief in fairies— Who they were— Fallen angels— Their abodes— Fairy-wells— 
Ruled by a queen — ^Dressed in green— Dislike to the name of fairy — Called 
" The Fair Folk " or " The Gueede Neebours " — A stone arrow a safeguard 
against their power — The imnates of a house built over their dwelling liable to 
annoyance from them — Came out in thegloamin — Spinning-wheels and meal- 
mills had to be thrown out of gear — They had to pay the teind to hell every 
seven years — Stole children to do so — ^How to get back a stolen child — Story 
of a fisherwoman — Of another in Tyrie — Of another — Liking for human milk 

Carried off nnsained mothers — Traditions of their doing so — Alluring 

men and women into their abodes — ^If such tasted food or drink with them 
they were detained for seven years — When they returned they avoided 
the dwellings of men — Grateful for kindness — Had a habit of borrowing 

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from men — Particularly meal — A fixed measure of it — A tradition — 
Ayenged a slight — Animals fell under their anger — A tradition — Their 
musical skill — Took to fishing — Baked during sunshine in rain — Ate 
counted cakes — " A furl o' fairies ween,'' pp. 59-65. 



Lived in deep pools of rivers and streams — Had the appearance of a black horse 
— Enticed the traveller to destruction — Caused annoyance to farms — Could 
be caught — Mode of capture — Made to do hard work — Could be killed — 
Traditions — Guardian demons in pools — Danger of going into such pools — 
A tradition — Blood-thirstiness of streams and rivers, pp. 66, 67. 



Mansions haunted by ghosts — Traditions — How to get rid of them — ^Excessive 
grief brought back the spirit — Spirit of the murdered one returned till the 
murderer was brought to justice — Spirit itself the executioner of justice — 
Woods, bridges, graveyards haunted, pp. 68-70. 



Belief in witchcraft — The witch an old woman — Her power derived from Satan 
— What she could do^Her revenge — A tradition — Men had the power — It 
went down in families, pp. 71, 72. 



Belief in " Black Airt " — Professors of it in communion with Satan — What it 
was — Taught in Spain and Italy — A tradition — Devil compacts — How made 
— Price of contract — Power of those who made such compacts — Time of 
contract prolonged — ^A tradition — " Hell-Eire Club " — Life of its members 
—Their fate, pp. 73-75. 



Jonah in the whale's belly — Lot's sons — The hair of the head — A bottle — A 
bottle of whisky — Ann — Andrew — Bean — That — Was — The letter m — John 
Lamb — The piper's wife — A fiddle — Hunger — An egg — Wood — A cofSn — 
A tub — A boy with a pot on his head — ^A man with a pot on his head — ^A 
pot with a wooden cover — The bars of a grate — The tongs — Smoke — A "ten- 

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onsen plench " — A hairy rope — A ship — ^A cherry — ^An onion — A nettle — A 
magpie — A worm — The town clock — A watch — The moon — ^A snowflake — 
Mist — A murdered lady — A woman fetching water in wooden pails — A 
black cow in a snowy day — Scatterty's cat — Time when most holes in the 
ground — ^Hay — A window — The cock — A nail in a horse's shoe — Noah 
striking the first nail of the ark — One's shoes — One's shadow — ^Hell — The 
whiting — Tod's tails to reach the moon — ^An icicle, pp. 76-82. 



Means taken to find out future husband or wife— Sleeping in a strange bed- 
Reading 3rd verse of 17th chapter of Job — ^First time cuckoo is heard — Rib- 
wort — Incantations on Halloween — Pulling the castoc — Sowing lint-seed — 
I'athoming a rick — Win'ing the bine clue — ^Winnowing com — Washing the 
sleeve of the shirt — ^Roasting peas — Eating an apple in front of a looking- 
glass — By three caps or wooden basins — Incantation by young women of 
Fraserburg-h — ^How to divine the number of the family — How to gain love 
— By orchis-roots — By two lozenges — ^Marriage dissipated love so gained — 
A live coal tumbling from the fire portended marriage — Apron-string or 
garter loosed with a young woman, meaning of — ^Effect of mending clothes 
on her back — ^Psabn CIX. — ^Rhymes — Colour rhyme — How courtship carried 
on — How marriage arranged — Tuesday or Thursday common marriage day — 
More rarely Saturday — Unlucky for two of a family to be married in the 
same year — Making ready the " Providan " — " Thigging " wool by bride — 
Buying the " Bonnie Things " — " Providan " sent home unlocked and un- 
bonnd — Invitation of guests — Minister asked after the invitation of the 
guests — A hat presented to minister — A present made by each guest — Re- 
served till morning of marriage day — " Hansel " — Marriage feast — Bridal 
ale — Bridal cakes — Omens drawn from the brewing of the ale — ^From the 
baking of the bread — " Beuckin nicht " — Proclamation of banns — Rubbing 
shoulders — Feet-washing — Omens drawn from weather on marriage day — 
Rhymes — ^Bridal dress — Bridal shoes — Something borrowed worn — Green 
garters presented by a younger sister to an elder unmarried — Arrival of 
guests — Marriage breakfast — " The sens " — The demand for the bride by the 
" sens " — ^Bride and her party arrived first at church — Bride led by bridesmen 
— Bridegroom led by two young women — Both parties carried whisky with 
bread and cheese — " First fit " observed by both — Attention to " first 
fit " — Best, a man on horseback — Or a horse drawing a, cart — Each party 
headed by a piper — Firing of guns—" Bride-steel " — Great care to place the 
bride properly — Place of " best maid " — Danger of being best maid — Bride 
and bridegroom should not meet on the day of the marriage till they met to 
be married — Ceremonies after marriage —Beadle received his fee — Procession 
home — The welcome— Bride lifted over the threshold— Bread and cheese in 
a sieve placed on her head — Sometimes scattered — Gathered by young folks 
— The bride cake — Distributed — Installation of bride as mistress — " Ba- 

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siller " — Beggars -The marriage feast — " Penny weddings " — Forbidden by 
the Church — Bridegroom did not take his seat at marriage feast — Dancing 
— " Shaim-spring" — " Shaimit-reel " — Marriage favours — Male dancers paid 
musician — Ceremony of " Beddan " — First asleep first dead — Who carried 
pains of labour — The "Kirkin" — No bye-road taken to Church — Service 
begun before entrance — Two bridal parties in church at once — Kirkin feast 
— In change-houses — Such forbidden by the Church — Marriage among the 
fishing population — Early marriages — Arranging marriage — " Nicht o' the 
Greeance" — Guests invited by the bride and bridegroom in company — 
Customs on morning of marriage day — ^Where marriage celebrated — Six- 
pence put into bride's shoe — The heel of bride's shoe put down — Bride- 
groom's put down — Marriage party sometimes makes the circuit of village 
after marriage ceremony — " First Fit " — Sailor's marriage — Ceremonies on 
entering her home — What the bride provides — What the husband provides 
— Taking home of the" Plinisan" — ^Marriages in Crovie — ^In Eosehearty — 
Bridal bed in Gardenston — The " Beddan " — Custom in Boddam — Presents 
to newly-married pair, pp. 83-101. 



Aikybrae — Aberdour — Avon — BanfE — Boyne — Buchan — Strila — Buck — Bel- 
riunes — Tap o' Noth — Bennochie — Cabrach — Rushter — Caimmuir — Caim- 
byke — Eumblin-Steens — Stoney Dyke — Carnousie — Comcairn — Cruden — 
Culblean — Cromar — CuUen — CuUycan — ^Daach — Sauchin — ^Keithock Mill — 
Tam o' Eivven — ^Balveny — Cults — Clunymoire — Auchindroin — Dee — Don — 
TJrie — Bass — Deer — Tillery — Dipple — Dindurcas — Dandilieth — Delvey — 
Brig o' Balgownie — Eden — Fochabers — Fraserburgh — Fy vie Castle — St. 
Fergus — Kilbirnie — ^Keith — ^Marua — Mormond — Mount Mar — Lochnagar — 
Clochnaben — Bennochie — Pitf odels — Mearns — Pittentyoul — Pittendrum — 
Aberdour — Eattrayhead — Eivven (Euthven) — St. Brandon — St. Olav's 

Well — Brig o' Tnrra Little Ugie — Druidical circles — The Helliman Eig 

at Killishment— The " Gudmahns' Craft "—Caves, pp. 102-116. 



Aberdeen — Drum — Duff — Fraser — Gordon — Hay^Earl of Mar — Ogilvie — 
Strathbogie— Towie Barclay, pp. 117-122. 



Section L— Four-footed animals — The mole— The cat— The dog— The porpoise 
— The mouse — The field-mouse — The rat — The hare — The pig — The horse 
— How to find water by a mare — The ass — The sheep — Cattle — Cow 

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rhymes. Section II. — Birds — Bird rhymes — The crow — Crow rhymes — 
The rayen — The magpie — The redbreast — The lark — Lark rhymes — The 
yellow-hammer — The cook — The hen — Setting a hen — Time of day for so 
doing — Months for so doing — Hen hatching afield — Hand not to touch wild 
ducklings — ^Bird's eggs not to be touched in nest — Hens and ducks preening 
themselTes — The dove — The golden ployer — The moor-hen — The lapwing — 
The wild-goose — The Swan. Section III. — Eeptiles, fish, and insects — 
Eeptileg — The frog — The toad — Kshes — The dog-fish, part of backbone a 
cure of toothache — The herring — The haddock — The fluke — The salmon and 
the trout — ^Insects — ^The burying-beetle — The ladybird — The Ant — Bees — 
Moths — Spiders — The green crab — The hairworm — The black snail. Section 
IV. — Trees and plants — The aspen — The bluebell — Broom — Whin — Tnmip 
blossom — WUd fruits — Omens from first dug potatoes — The puff-ball, pp. 



Days of the week — Monday — Tuesday — Friday — Saturday — The months — Febru- 
ary — ^March — April — The borrowing days — ^May — June — Candlemas — Rood 
day wind — Wind on first day of quarter — The moon — Unlucky to see new moon 
through a window — With empty hands — Luck to have something in the hand 
— Money in the pocket must be turned — Kiss one next you — " Mairt " killed 
when the moon increasing — Fish hung in moonlight poisonous — Sleeping in 
moonlight dangerous — Influence in ripening grain — " A broch " — " A cock's 
, eye " — Moon seen soon after its coming in indicates bad weather — " Lying on 
her back " the same — Old moon lying in new moon — Mist — Mock sun — The 
rainbow — Thunder — Snow — Snow rhyme — Snow — Rain rhyme — Rain before 
seven A.M. — A " Borie " — Rain from south-west — ^Dust blowing — Mist — 
Clouds^The wind—" The song of the sea" — " The dog afore his maister" — 
" The dog ahin his maister," pp. 149 — 155. 



Preparations for keeping them — Three days observed — Blacksmith would not 
work unless by necessity — Every piece of work finished before Christmas — 
Time about Christmas and New Year given to festivity-^Food of all kinds 
for man and beast prepared — Omen drawn from baking the cakes — Yeel 
cakes kept as long as possible — Fish — Kebback— A piece of new dress — 
" Yeels Jaad " — A child must not cry on Christmas morning — " Yeel sones"' 
Divination from them — A small quantity of the dish left — Requiring a long 
time to cook indicated a late harvest or some disaster — Christmas breakfast 

— Dinner— Gysers — Balls — Masonic walks — Cattle got unthreshed com 

" Clyack Sheaf " given to mare in foal — A fire in each byre — Creaming the 
well— How such water used — Well creamed last night of year in some districts 
— Something must first he carried into the house on Christmas morning 

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A lue coal not given out — First fire watched, and omens drawn from it — 
"Ristin" fire on last night of year — Examined in morning — Omens drawn, 
from it — Appearance of stars — Wind on New Year's day — Thigging — 
Thigging song — " Hogminay " — Hogminay ditty — Raffles — Shooting-matches 
— "Dambrod" — Children's games of chance — Totum " Nivey, neeck-nack " 
— " Headocks or Pintacks " — " Yeel-preens "—Card playing— Playing in 
roadside inns and public houses — "Hansel Monday" — Faster Even — Brose 
day — Bannock nicht — A beef dinner on that day — Beef brose — Ring among 
brose — Omen drawn from dreaming over the ring — Bannocks — Fortune- 
telling from eggs that partly composed the bannocks — The " Sautie bannock " 
— How prepared — How used — No spinning on that day — Playing the ball — 
Cock-fighting — Valentine Day — Peace Sunday eggs — Beltane fires — Hal- 
lowe'en fires near villages — Near farm-steadings, pp. 156-168. 



In use in Fraserburgh — Tyrie — Pitsligo — Rathen — Portosy — Keith — ^Banfi, 
pp. 169-175. 



Little or no soap — Cow-dung as a detergent — "Book"' — "Hen-pen" — Yearly 
washing — "Washing rhyme, pp. 176-177. 



Aid given to one entering on a farm — By ploughing — By giving seed — 
Crofter with bad crop " thigged " — Parts cultivated — No fixed rotation of 
crops — A " Rig " left to grow wild oats — Comers left uncultivated " for the 
aul' man" — The plough — The harrows — Ropes — "Twal onsen plew" — 
"Gaadman" — A proverb — How oxen yoked — A tradition — Ceremony on 
putting the plough into the ground for the first time during the season — 
Mode of harvesting— A mysterious animal — "Clyack" sheaf — Divining 
about next harvest by the reapers— Firing shots into a neighbour's field by 
those first finishing — " Clyack " feast — The " winter " — How treated — " Meel 
an ale " — Part of grain left to feed birds— Mode of winnowing grain — 
Prejudice against fans — A tradition — Produce of land consumed within 
seven years — Mills — ^Mode of stopping mills — Cattle — Injured by fairies — 
Shot by their darts— " Thunderbolts "—The "111 ee"— "Hackit flesh" 
buried in the dungpit to work ill among the cattle— If found it was burned — 
Carcass of dead animal burned if it was supposed that the disease was caused 
by a witch or a warlock — An example — A tradition — Sacrifice of a pig to 

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stop disease among cattle— Diseased animals sacrificed — Byres purified with 
virgin fire in cases of " Quarter 111 ''—Fumigating with juniper—" Need- 
fyre " — Forbidden by Church — Forelegs of dead animal cut off and kept — 
Liver and lungs, parts of, hung over the fireplace — Sometimes boiled — 
Transferring the disease — Modes of doing so— Place of burying the animal 
stopped the disease — Cures by draughts — Off a new shilling — " Willox stone 
and bridle " — Modes of keeping witches at » distance — The rowan tree — 
Woodbine — Throwing besom after animal when led to market — Halter went 
along with animal when sold — Thrown on roof of byre when animal taken 
home — Making sign of cross on animal when bought — " Blockan ale " — The 
dairy — Chief enemies — Witch and warlock — Modes of taking away milk — 
By witch — Turning herself into a hare — Mode of taking it away when cow 
was calving — ^Mode of preventing this— First milk through a finger-ring — 
On a " crosst shilling '' — On a horseshoe nail — By curdling the first milk — 
By a rope plaited the contrary way round the cow's neck — By first draught 
of water ofE a shilling — Driving the newly-calved cow from the byre over 
fire and iron — Or over fire and salt — Same done to all the animals — " Seal " 
on cow's neck kept witch at a distance — Modes of bringing back milk when 
taken from cow — Boiling milk with pins, &c. — Corking up cow's urine in a 
bottle — Traditions — Pour milk on «, boulder between lichen and stone — By 
ceremony with churn — Mode by selling — Mode of preventing a cow being 
"forespoken " — Mode of finding out whether " forespoken " — Mode of cure — 
Modes of finding out who took away milk — Cure of lumps in ndder — How 
to increase quantity of milk— Milk boiling over pot into fire — Milk utensils 
washed indoors — If washed in a stream or pond washings thrown on bank — 
Eeason of such — "Eeam-pig" — "Eeam-bowie" — The " paddle-doo " — 
" Gueede butter gaitherer " — Frog kept amongst cream — A tradition — 
Cream — Crooked sixpence or cross of rowan tree or horseshoe put below 
chum when butter was being made — One entering the house when the butter 
was being churned churned a short time — How to make cow calve during 
the day-time — Calf as it fell from the cow not touched with hand — Cow not 
milked on the morning when taken to market — " Seal " went along with 
milch cow when sold — The " Hird " — His club made of ash— Keason for so 
doing — " Jockies plew " — Number of cattle notched on club — A tradition — 
Each animal had a name — " Hird " Rhyme, pp. 177-196. 



Boat launched to a flowing tide — Whisky, &c., given at launch and naming — 
Rhyme — Ceremony by skipper's wife on arrival of a new boat — Horseshoe 
nailed to boat — On going a-fishing new boat allowed to take the lead — 
Reason — Ceremony on returning from fishing — A boat wrecked with loss of 
life not afterwards used — White stone not used as ballast — Stone bored by 
pholas not used — Village awakened by an old fisherman — Men with an "111 
Fit "—Traditions — Mode of drawing down the boats on going to sea — Re- 

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pnguance to go to sea if asked where they were going — Words not uttered 
when at sea — Swine — Salmon — Trout — Dog — Minister — Kirk — Fish 
" glowered oot o' the hoat " — Mode of taking off the spell — Boats at sea not 
to be pointed at with finger — Nor counted — Nor women counted when 
travelling to sell fish — Certain family names not pronounced in Buckie — 
Anecdote — Whyte an unlucky name in other villages — Mode of curing 
haddocks — Different kinds of cured haddocks — Other fish — Mode of selling 
— Ceremony on New Year's Day, pp. 197-202. 



Omens — Three knocks — The "Dead-drop "—" Chackie Mill" — Heavy sound 
outside door of house — Murmur of human voices — Mirror or picture falling 
— " Dead-can'le " — A " J?ey-crap " — " Coflin-spehl "—Apparition of person 
doomed to die-^Three drops of cold blood falling from nose — Unusual joy — 
Sneezing a sign of recovery — Dead and living grave — Forbidden by Chmch 
— Mysterious sound — A tradition— Break rock over head of the dying — 
Dying one removed from bed — Eeason for so doing — Doors and windows 
opened in hour of death — Iron stuck into butter, &c., on the death taking place 
— Milk in house thrown out — Onions and butter in some fishing villages 
thrown out— Chairs, &c. sprinkled with water — Clothes of dead sprinkled with 
water — Had a peculiar smell — Clock stopped — Mirrors, pictures, &c., covered 
— Hens and cats shut up — Eeason for so doing — Neighbours did not yoke 
their horses unless a running stream between dwellings — Earth not dug in 
one village — Wright sent for on death to make coffin — Laying out of body 
— A penny or halfpenny put on eyelids if they did not close— Salt laid on 
breast — Green turf laid on breast to prevent swelling — Candles kept burning 
— A tradition — Time of death — Drowning — ^Body fioated on ninth day — 
Eeason — Mode of finding body — Body of suicide — Murder — Murderer 
touching body causes blood to flow — The lyke-wake — The"Kistan" — The 
" Waukan " — How time employed — Sometimes practical jokes— " Tobacco 
Nichts," pp. 203-209. 



Reception of funeral guests — ^Hospitality — Looking at the dead body — Touching 
it — Body soft, meaning of — Part of winding-sheet cut off and kept — Mode 
of carrying the coffin to the graveyard — A young woman carried by young 
women in Buckie — Chairs, on which coffin rested before moving away from 
the door, overturned — Allowed to lie for a time — Washed — All animals 
about the farm loosed from their stalls and driven forth — The funeral must 
go by the common road — Bellman went before funeral ringing a bell in some 
places — Church-bell rung in others — Whisky, carried if graveyard distant — 
Partaken of at the " ristin stehn " — Tradition — Whisky partaken of when 
grave covered — Eeast after funeral — A shower on the open grave — A 

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hurricane — Bread and water put beside the dead body the night after the 
funeral — A funeral not to be looked at from a window — Suicides— Not burled 
in graveyard— A tradition— "Where buried^ Why not buried in graveyard — 
The knot of a suicide's hanging rope — A criminal's — Still-bom children — 
TJnbaptized children— Graveyards— Reluctance to put first body in a new 
graveyard— A tradition— The "Meels"— The mortcloth— Coffins— Grave- 
yards haunted — Mode of making contract with the devil— Mode of " arrest- 
ing " a man or a beast — Mould of graveyard used in sorcery — ^Forbidden by 
the Church, pp. 210-216. 

GLOSSARY, pp. 217-225. 

INDEX, pp. 227-238. 

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" Homo sum: nihil humani a me alienum puto." 

HA YE paidlt in its bums and tumbled on its fairy 
hillocks. I have wandered through its woods by 
day and by night. I have trudged over its moors 
and mosses. I have lain below its rocks, dreaming 
with open eyes of the past. I have climbed its hills in sunshine 
and in mist, in calm and in storm ; in fair and in foul, when 
the tiny stream that flowed down the hill-side was swollen into 
a roaring torrent of foam, and " deep was calling unto deep." 
I have seated myself on the hill-top, and looked out on the 
great sea of hills, billow on billow, with their grey, broken 
crests and purple sides streaked with patches of glittering snow, 
with many a tarn looking out from below the rugged brows of 
the hills — eyes gazing with calm, steadfast gaze to Heaven ; 
with here and there a lake shining as molten gold, fringed with 
black from the dark fir wood, with here and there a stream 
dancing and sparkling in the sun, now shut out from view by 
an intervening hill, now coming into sight round the base of 
another ; the sea in the distance, calm and grand, glancing 
in the summer-sun, beautiful as a child at play, and carrying 
on its breast many a brave vessel, round which floated mothers' 
and wives' and children's prayers, and lovers' vows, and mer- 
chant-men's hopes and fears ; and between the hills and the 
sea, fair, fruitful fields, and villages and towns, with all 


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their joys and hopes, with all their earnest endeavour and 
honest work, with all their devotion and self-denial, with 
all their loves and hatreds, with all their pain and misery. 
I have seen the sun go down, and the darkness creep over 
the lowlands and up the hill-sides, inch by inch, till only the 
hill-tops shone in purple splendour for a few minutes, and 
they too, then, were clad in darkness, and the stars came 
out one by one, larger and brighter than when seen from 
the plains. I have stood at midnight on the mountain-top, 
and heard only the dull sough of the wind, broken by the bark 
of the fox or the croak of the ptarmigan. I have guided my 
steps over its ridges by the midnight stars. Wrapped in a plaid, 
I have crouched beneath a stone on a bed of fresh heather, and 
have fe,llen asleep with the music of a Gaelic song and the murmur 
of the streams falling over the mountain side — the one the 
counterpart of the other — sounding in my ears. I have sat in 
the hut beside a blazing fire, and, amidst the roar of the tempest 
and the rush of swollen waters, listened at midnight to tales 
of witchcraft ; of compacts with the Devil, of fightings with the 
same dark being, of the same being blowing to the four winds 
of Heaven wicked men, with their hut, their guns, and their 
dogs ; of fair women and infants carried oif by the fairies ; of 
dead-candles, of death-warnings, of ghosts, and of all the terrible 
things of the realm of spirits, till an eerie feeling crept over 
me, and I began to question with myself whether such tales 
might not be true. I have taken my seat beside the reputed 
witch, in her dark turf hut, and, with the faint glimmering 
light of a small candle, witnessed her perform with her long 
skinny fingers her incantations. I have sailed the Firth in 
boat and in vessel, in sunshine and in storm, and I have listened 
to the tales of the fishermen and sailors as the ship rocked lazily 
under the falling darkness. The North, with its hills, and vales, 
and woods, and rocks, and streams, and lochs, and sea-^— with its 
fairies, and waterkelpies, and ghosts, and superstitions — with its 
dialect, and customs, and manners, has become part of myself 
Everything is changing, and changing faster than ever. The 
scream of the railway whistle is scaring away the witcli. 

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and the fairy, and the waterkelpie, and the ghost. To give 
an account of the olden time in the North, as seen by my- 
self and as related to me by the aged, is the task I have set 
before me. It is true some of what is related has not yet passed 
away. If I fall into error, I can only say, with the Roman 

" Si id est peccatum, peccatum imprudentia'st," 

and with Eichard RoUe de Hampole : — 

•' And if any man that es clerk 
Can fynde any errour in this werk, 
I pray hym he do me that favour 
That he wille amende that errour; 
And if men may here any erronre se. 
Or if any defaut in this tretice be, 
I make here a protestacion, 
That I will stand til the correcc.ion 
Of ilka rightwyse lered man, 
That my defaut here correcte can." 

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N the occasion of a birth there were present a few of 
the mother's female friends in the neighbourhood, 
besides the midwife. 

But it was not every woman that was permitted to 
attend. A woman with child was not allowed to be in the room ; 
and if two women with child happened to be living in the same 
house when the one felt the pains of labour, they took a straw, or 
a stalk of grass, or some such thing, and broke it, each repeating 
the words, " Ye tak yours, an I tak mine." Neither could a 
woman giving suck seat herself on the edge of the bed of the 
lying-in woman, from the belief that such an action stopped the 
flow of the milk of the lying-in woman. If a woman in this 
condition did do so unwittingly, and the milk ceased, the 
lying-in mother whose milk had departed had to get secretly 
the child of her who had been the cause of the disappearance of 
the milk, and, with the aid of a friend, to pass it under and over 
her apron to bring back her milk. 

While the woman was in labour all locks in the house were 
undone. One who might enter the house during labour spoke 
to the woman, and wished God speed to the birth. If the labour 
was difficult, the first who chanced to enter gave her something, 
as a little water to moisten the mouth, and there were those 
whose giving was reputed as of great virtue in easing and has- 
tening the birth. A doctor was called only in cases of danger. 

When the child was born there was a feast called ilie merry 
meht, part of which was the indispensable cheese, or cryin 
kebback. In some districts a bannock made of oatmeal, milk, 
and sugar, and baked in a frying-pan, called the cryin bannock, 
was served up. Each one present carried off a piece of the 
cheese to be distributed among friends, and every one who 

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came to see the mother and baby alsf) carried away a piece for 
the same purpose.* 

The belief in fairies was universal, and their power was 
specially dreaded in the case of women in childbed and of 
unbaptised infants. These beings were believed to have a great 
liking for human milk, and to be constantly on the watch for 
opportunities to gratify their liking, which could be done only 
by carrying off unsained or unchurched mothers. Nor did they 
show less anxiety to get possession of infants. Every seven 
years they had to pay '' the teind t<j hell," and this they endea- 
voured to do by a human being rather than by one of themselves. 

On the birth of the child, the mother and offspring were 
sained, a ceremony which was done in the following manner : — 
A fir-candle was lighted and carried three times round the bed, 
if it was in a position to allow of this being done, and, if this 
could not be done, it was whirled three times round their heads; 
a Bible and bread and cheese, or a Bible and a biscuit, were 
placed under the pillow, and the words were repeated, " May 
the Almichty debar a' ill fae this umman, an be aboot ir, an 
bliss ir an ir bairn." When the biscuit or the bread and cheese 
had served their purpose, they were distributed among the un- 
married friends and acquaintances, to be placed under their 
pillows to evok;e dreams, f 

Among some of the fishing population a fir-candle or a basket 
containing bread and cheese was placed on the bed to keep the 
fairies at a distance. A pair of trowsers hung at the foot of the 
bed had the same effect, f 

Strict watch was kept over both mother and child till the 
mother was churched and the child was baptised, and in the 
doing of both all convenient speed was used. For, besides 
exposure to the danger of being carried off by the fairies, the 
mother was under great restrictions till churched. She was not 
allowed to do any kind of work, at least any kind of work more 

* Cf. Henderson's FoUt-Lore of tlie Nortlwrn Counties (published by the Folk 
Lore Society), pp. 1 1, 12. This book will be referred to hereafter as " Henderson," 
t Ibid. p. 14. 
% Ibid. pp. 14, 15, and The FoVirLore Record, vol. ii. p. 197. 

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than the most simple and necessary. Neither was she permitted 

to enter a neighbour's house, and, had she attempted to do so, 

some would have gone the length of offering a stout resistance, 

and for the reason that, if there chanced to be in the house a 

woman great with child, travail would prove difficult with her.* 

The Kirk of Scotland has no special service for the churching 

of women, and churching was simply attending the ordinary 

service. The mother put on her very best attire, and contrived 

if possible, however poor, to have a piece of new dress ; and 

generally a larger contribution was given for the poor. On her 

journey home a neighbour by the wayside took her in, and set 

before her both food and drink. If the distance from the church 

and the state of the mother's health delayed the churching too 

long, she betook herself to the ruins or to the site of some old 

chapel that chanced to be near, and on that hallowed ground 

returned thanks to God for His goodness. The site of the chapel 

of St. Bridget, with its little churchyard and a few nameless stones, 

near Tomintoul, was the resort of many a mother ; and under 

the dome of Heaven, with the hills for temple walls, and the 

green grass for a carpet, above the long, long forgotten dead, in 

a temple not made with hands, 

" Kneeling there, 
Down in the dreadful dust that once was man. 
Dust . . . that once was loving hearts,'' 

did she pour forth her heart for two human lives. Despite of 
all superstition, it was a grand sight. Such mothers have 
made Scotland what it is. 

The first time after childbirth the mother went to fetch water, 
she did so, not. in a pail, but in her thimble or in a vessel of 
very small content, to prevent the child's mouth from con- 
tinually running saliva. If possible she ought first to go upstairs 
rather than downstairs.j 

* Cf, Henderson, p. 16, -f Cf. F. L. Record, vol, i. p. 11 (36). 

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" Honour, riches, mamage-Uessing, 
Long oontinnance, and increasing 
Hourly joys be still upon you," 

j HEN the child was born, if it was a boy it was wrapped 
in a woman's shirt, and if it was a girl it was 
wrapped in a man's. If the operation was reversed 
the luckless victim of such an untoward act never 
entered into the joys of married life. 

In washing the new-born infant great care was used not to 
let the water touch the palms of the hands, and this care was 
continued for a considerable length of time, under the belief 
that to wash the palms of the hands washed away the luck of 
this world's goods.* By some a live coal was thrown into the 
water in which the new-born infant was washed. By others it 
was carefully poured under the foundation of the'dwelling-house, 
to prevent it from coming in contact with fire, and thus to pre- 
serve in coming years the child from the harm of burning. 
When dressed it was turned three times heels over head in the 
nurse's arms, and blessed, and then shaken three times with the 
head downward. These ceremonies kept the fairies at a dis- 
tance from the infant, and prevented it from being frightened 
when suddenly awaked from sleep, as well as from growing in 
a knot. The same ceremonies were gone through every time the 
child was dressed. When it was laid out of the arms, as to bed, 
the words, " God be with you," or " Grod bless you," were 

To guard the child from he'mg forespoken, it was passed three 

times through the petticoat or chemise the mother wore at the 

time of the accouchement. It was not deemed proper to bestow 

a very great deal of praise on a child ; and one doing so would 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 16. 

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have been interrupted by some such words as " Gueede sake, 
haud yir tung, or ye'U forespyke the bairn." Such a notion of 
forespeaking by bestowing excessive praise was not limited to 
infants, but extended to full-grown people, to domestic animals, 
and to crops. If the child was sickly, and there was a suspicion 
that it had been forespoken, recourse was had to the well- 
approven modes of discovering the truth or the untruth of the 

Here are two modes. A new shilling, after being put three 
times round the crooh, was placed on the bottom of a wooden 
cap. The cap was filled with water, which was immediately 
poured off. If the shilling came off with the water, the child 
had not been forespoken. Three stones — one round, to repre- 
sent the head, another as near the shape of the body as possible, 
and a third as hke the legs as could be found — were selected 
from a south-running stream, that formed the boundary between 
twa lairds' laan, heated red hot, and thrown into a vessel con- 
taining a little water, A new shilling was laid on the bottom 
of a wooden cap, and this water was poured over it. The 
water was then decanted, and if the shilling stuck to the bottom 
of the cap. the sickness was brought on by forespeaking. The 
water used in the ceremony was administered as a medicine. 

To turn off the evil eye, and to preserve the child from the 
power of the fairies, a small brooch, of the shape of a heart, was 
worn on one of the petticoats, usually behind. 

There were those who had the reputation of having the power 
of showing to the parents or relatives the face of the one who 
had been guilty of casting ill upon the child. If iU had been 
cast upon the child it was cured by taking its own first shirt, 
or the petticoat the mother wore before confinement, or the 
linen she wore at the time of delivery, and passing it through 
it three times, and then three times round the crook. 

If the child became cross and began to dwine, fears imme- 
diately arose that it might be a " fairy changeling," and the 
trial by fire was put into operation. The hearth was piled with 
peat, and when the fire was at its strength the suspected change- 
ling was placed in front of it and as near as possible not to be 

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scorched, or it was suspended in a basket over the fire. If it 
was a " changeling child " it made its escape by the lum, 
throwing back words of scorn as it disappeared. 

One mode of bringing back the true child was the following. 
A new skull was taken and hung over the fire from a piece of a 
branch of a hazel tree, and into this basket the suspected 
changeling was laid. Careful watch was kept till it screamed. 
If it screamed it was a changeling, and it was held fast to pre- 
vent its escape. When an opportunity occurred, it was carried 
to a place where four roads met, and a dead body was carried 
over it. The true child was restored. 

On the first symptoms of the child's cutting teeth, a teeiliin 
bannock was made. It was baked of oatmeal and butter or 
cream, sometimes with the addition of a ring, in presence of a 
few neighbours, and without a single word being spoken by the 
one baking it. When prepared, it was given to the child to 
play with till it was broken. A small piece was then put into 
the child's mouth, if it had not done so of its own accord. 
Each one present carried away a small portion. Such a bannock 
was supposed to ease the troubles of teething. It went also by 
the name of teething plaster. 

When once a child was weaned, suck was not on any account 
again given. Thieving propensities would have been the result 
of such an action. Neither was it lawful to cut its nails with 
knife or scissors.* That, too, begot a thieving disposition, 
Biting off was the only mode adopted. 

If a child spoke before it walked, it turned out a liar. 

When a child entered a house something was given it. Its 
hand was crossed with money, or a piece of bread was put into 
its hand. If this was not done, hunger was left in the house. 
It was sometimes a custom to put a little meal into the child's 
mouth the first time it was carried out and taken into a neigh- 
bour's house.f 

The cradle was an object of much care. A child was never 
put into a new cradle, A live cock or hen was first placed in 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 16, and F. L. Record, vol. i, p. 11 (30). 
t Cf. Henderson, p, 20. 

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it ; and the firstborn was never put into a new cradle, but into 
an old one, borrowed. In sending the cradle it was not sent 
empty. In some districts, if it was borrowed for a girl's use, a 
live cock was tied into it, and if for a boy's, a live hen. In 
other districts it was filled with potatoes, a bag of meal, or such 
like, respect being commonly had to the state of the borrower. 
It was not allowed to touch the ground till it was placed on the 
floor of the house in which it was to be used. 

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tender gem, and full of heaven ! 

Not in the twilight stars on high, 
Not in moist flowers at even. 

See we our God so nigh. 

Sweet one, make haste, and know him, too. 

Thine own adopting Father lore, 
That, like thine earliest dew. 

Thy dying sweets may prove." 

APTISM was administered as early as circumstances 
would permit, and for various reasons. Without 
this sacrament the child was peculiarly exposed to 
the danger of being carried off or changed by the 
fairies.* It could not be taken out of the house, at least to any 
great distance, or into a neighbour's, till it was baptised. It 
could not be called by its name till after it was baptised. It 
was unlawful to pronounce the name, and no one would have 
dared to ask iif At baptism the name was commonly written 
on a slip of paper, which was handed to the minister. Death 
might come and take away the yoimg one, and if not baptised 
its name could not be written in the " Book of Life," and 
Heaven was closed against it. Many a mother has been made 
unhappy by the death of her baby without baptism ; and, if the 
child fell ill, there was no delay in sending for the minister to 
administer the holy rite, even although at a late hour at night. 
It was a common belief that in such cases the minister either 
"killed or cured.',' $ There was an undefinable sort of awe about 
unbaptised infants, as well as an idea of uncanniness in having 
them without baptism in the house. 

The system of registration has in a great measure put an end 
to this anxiety for having the child early baptised. 

" Oh, Sir," said the wife of a working man to the minister, 

» Cf. Henderson, p. 16. f Cf. -f. L. Mecord, vol. i. p. 11 (37). 

J Cf. Henderson, p. 15. 

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on asking him to baptise her child along with others, whose 
mothers were present, "this registration's the warst thing the 
queen try ever saw; it sud be deen awa wee athegeethir." 

" Why ? " asked the minister, in astonishment at the woman's 
words and earnestness of manner. 

" It'll pit oot kirsnin athegeethir. Ye see the craitirs gets 
thir names, an we jist think that aneuch, an we're in nae hurry 
sennin for you." 

Baptism was administered sometimes in private and some- 
times in public. The child was dressed in white, and wore a 
fine cap. It was commonly the sick-nurse that carried in the 
infant, handed it to the father, and received it from him after 
baptism. On the conclusion of the rite in private, bread and 
cheese, with whisky, were set before the guests. It would have 
been regarded as an utter want of respect, and unlucky, not to 
have partaken of the bread and cheese, and not to have put the 
glass with the whisky to the lips. In doing so there were 
repeated the words — " Wissin the company's gueede health, an 
grace an growan to the bairn." Sometimes, instead of the latter 
phrase, were substituted the words, " Fattenau an battenan t' 
the bairn." A feast usually followed. 

Each guest gave a small gift in money to the child, and the 
sum so given was the nurse's fee. 

The child must sleep in its baptismal dress. 

In sprinkling the water of baptism all care had to be used 
to keep it from entering the eyes, as it was believed that the 
least drop of it entering the eyes opened them to the seeing of 
ghosts in the journey of life. 

When the water fell upon the child, unless it cried it was 
augui'ed that it would be shorWived, and it is said that, if it did 
not cry, the woman who received it from the father handled it 
roughly, or even pinched it, to make it utter the desired cry.* 

The water was carefully kept for a time — at least eight 
days — and then reverentially poured below the foundation of 
the dwelling-house ; or it was drunk, under the belief that it 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 16, and F, L. Record, vol. i. p. 11 (39). 

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strengthened the memory. Alongside the basin, with the water 
needed for the rite, some placed bread and a Bible. 

If the child was taken to a neighbour's house at a distance, 
or to church to be baptised, the woman who carried the child 
carried also some bread and cheese, and another of the party- 
was provided with a bottle of whisky and a dram glass. The 
person first met received bread and cheese and a dram, and 
usually turned, and walked a short distance.* If it was a woman 
that was first met, she carried the baby as far as she went. One 
of the cloths indispensable to a baby was also carried, and cast 
away by the road. 

If a boy and a girl were to be baptised together, the greatest 
care was taken, to have the parents so placed that the minister 
must baptise the girl first. If there was the least suspicion of 
the minister reversing the order, great uneasiness was manifested, 
and, if he did proceed to baptise the boy first, the girl was put 
forward, and when baptised first a gleam of satisfaction lighted up 
the faces of the girl's friends. This procedure was followed 
under the belief that, if the boy was baptised before the girl, 
he left his beard in the water, and the girl got it.f 

If it happened that a girl was brought to church to be baptised, 
and returned without baptism, she died unmarried. 

In returning home a neighbour by the wayside took the party 
in, and prepared a dish called in Gaelic fuarag. It was made of 
oatmeal and cream, or of oatmeal and whisky. Each of the 
party received a spoonful, and a small portion was put into the 
bhild's mouth. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 12. f -^*i<^- P- 16- 

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" Fond father and mother, 
So guide it and feed it, 
Give gifts to it, clothe it: 
God only can know 
What lot to its latter days 
Life has to bring." 

ANY of the members of the human body were em- 
bodied in rhymes, commonly nursery rhymes. Here 
is one about the face; and as the nurse repeated 
each line she touched with her finger the part of the 
face mentioned in the line : — 

" Chin cherry, 
Moo merry, 
Nose nappie, 
Ee winkie, 
Broo brinkie, 
Cock-up jinkie." 

There is a variation of the last line : — 
" Our the hill an awa'." 

The following refers to the brow, the eye, the nose, and the 
mouth : — 

" Knock at the doorie, 
Peep in, 
Lift the latch, 
An walk in." 

Here is one about the fingers, beginning with tlie index 
finger : — 

" Here's the man it brook the barn, 
Here's the man it staa the corn, 
Here's the man it taul a', 
Peer creenie-crannie paid for a'." 

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The nurse took hold of each finger as she repeated each Ihie. 
There was another form of the rhyme, in which the thumb 
played the part of breaking the barn : — 

" This is the man it brook the bam, 
This is the man it staa the com, 
This is the man it tanl a'. 
This the man it ran awa". 
Peer creenie-crannie paid for a'." 

Another form of the last line is : — 

" An puir wee crannie doodlie paid for a'." 

The legs and feet were utilised by the nurse as a means of 

amusement. Here is what she repeated while she held a leg 

in each hand and kept crossing them, slowly at first, and then 

with greater rapidity when the dogs were supposed to be on 

their homeward journey : — 

" There wiz twa doggies, 
An they geed t' the mill, 
An they got a lick oot o' this wife's pyock, 
An anither oot o' the neesht wife's pyock, 
An a leb oot o' the dam, 
An syne they geed hame, 
Loupie for loup, lonpie for loup." 

Another version runs thus : — 

" Twa doggies geed t' the mill. 
They took a lick oot o' this wife's pyock. 
An a lick oot o' that wife's pyock, 
An a leb oot o' the mill dam ; 
Hame again, hame again — loupie for loup — 
Hame again, hame again — ^loupie for spang." 

The following rhyme was repeated to the child by the nurse 
while she took off the child's boot and imitated the blacksmith in 
nailing the shoes on the horse's foot : — 

" John Smith, a fellow fine, 
Cam t' shee a horse o' mine. 
Pit a bit upo' the tae, 
T' gar the horsie dim' the brae ; 
Pit a bit upo' the brod, 
T' gar the horsie dim' the road; 
Pit a bit upo' the heel, 
T' gar the horsie trot weel." 

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Here is another version : — 

" John Smith, a fellow fine, 
Cam t' shoe a horse o' mine — 
Shoe a horse, ca' a nail, 
Ca' a tackit iu's tail — 
Hand him sicker, hand him sair. 
Hand him by the head o' hair." 

Another rhyme about the legs and feet is as follows : — 

" Hey my kittin, my kittin — 
Hey my kittin, my dearie; 
Sic a fit as this 
Wiz na far nor nearie. 
Here we gae up, up, up; 
Here we gae doon, doon, doonie; 
Here we gae back an fore; 
Here we gae roou an roonie; 
Here's a leg for a stockin. 
An here's a fit for a shoeie." 

Various members of the body were celebrated in the following 

" This is the broo o' knowledge, 
This is the ee o' life, 
This is the bibblie gauger, 
An this is the pen-knife, 
This is the shouther o' mutton, 
This is the lump o' fat." 

The next two lines must be left untold. 

When the child was being fed, to keep it in good humour 
and induce it to take its food, the nurse kept repeating : — 

" Sannie Kilrannie, the laird o' Kailcrack, 
Suppit kale brose, and swallit the cap." 

A fuller version of the same was : — 

" Sandy Kilh-annie, 
The laird o' Kilknap, 
He suppit kail brose 
Till his wyme it did crack. 
He suppit the brose 
An swallit the speen. 
" IIo, ho," quo' Sandy, 
" The brose is deen." 

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When the child showed signs of being satisfied, the following 
words were repeated : — 

" Gouckit Geordie, Brig o' Dee, 
Sups the brose an leaves the bree." 

When the child was being undressed for bed, the nurse kept 
repeating : — 

" Hey diddle damplin, my son John 
Went to his bed an his trousers on; 
One shoe off, an the other shoe on, 
Hey diddle dumplin, my son John." 

When the child got into the sulks it was called : — 
" Grinigo Gash, the laird's piper." 

Children in their amusements often repeated rhymes. 
The following one was repeated when a child mounted a 
walking-stick or a piece of stick as a " horse" : — 
" Hirple Dick upon a stick, 
An Sandy on a soo, 
We'U awa t' Aiberdeen 
T' buy a pun o' oo." 

Another version is : — 

" Cripple Dick upon a stick. 
An Sandy on a soo, 
Ride awa t' Galloway 
T' buy a pun o' oo." 

This rhyme was repeated to the child when dandled on the 
knee in imitation of the modes of riding indicated in the lines : — 

" This is the way the ladies rides, 
Jimp an sma, jimp an sma; 
This is the way the gentlemen rides, 
Spurs an a', spurs an a'; 
This is the way the cadgers rides. 
Creels an a', creels an a'." 

Another rhyme of the same kind is : — 

" Ride, dide, dide, 
Ride awa t' Aberdeen, 
An buy fite bread, 
• She fan ere she cam back 
The carlin wiz dead. 

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Up wi' her club, 
Gie her on the Ing, 
An said, ' Rise up, carlin, 
An eat fite bread.' " 

Two children placed themselves back to back, locked their 
arms together, and alternately lifted each other, repeating the 
words : — 

" Weigh butter, weigh cheese. 
Weigh a pun a' caunle grease." 

Here follow various rhymes current among the young : — 

" A, B, bufe. 

The cattie lickit snuJEE, 

An the monkey chawed tobacco,'' 
" A, B, buff, 

Gee the cat a cuff, 

Gee her ane, gee her twa, 

Eap her hehd t' the stehn wa'." 
" Charlie Chats milkit the cats, 

An Gollochy made the cheese, 

An Charlie steed at the back o' the door. 

An heeld awa' the flees." 
" A for Annie Anderson, 

B for Bettie Brown, 

C for Cirstie Clapperton, 

It danced upon her crown.'' 
" A for Alexander, 

B for Bettie Brown, 

C for Kettie Clatterson, 

It clatters throo the town." 
" John Prott an his man 

To the market they ran; 

They bonght, they sold, 

Muckle money down told. 

Till they came till a plack, 

Steek your neive on that." 
" ' Hielanman, Hielanman, 

!Fahr wiz ye born ? ' 

' Up in the Hielands, 

Amou the green com.' 

' Taht got you there 

Bit green kail an leeks ? ' 

Laugh at a Hielanman 

Wintin his breeks." 

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" The little lady lairdie 

She longt for a baby, 

She took her father's grey hunn 

An row'd it in a plaidy. 

Says ' Hishie, bishie, bow, wow, 

Lang leggit now ow 

In't warna for yir muckle baird 

I wud kiss yir mou-ow.' " 
" Your plack an my plack, 

Yonr plack an my plack, 

Your plack an my plack an Jennie's bawbee, 

We'll pit them i' the pint stoup, pint stonp, pint stonp. 

We'll pit them i' the pint stoup, 

An join a' three." 
" Matthew, Mark, Luke, an John 

Hand the horse till I win on ; 

Hand him sicker, haud him sair, 

Haud him by the auld mane hair." 
" I'ye a cat wi' ten tails, 

I've a ship wi' saiven sails. 

Up Jack, down Tom, 

Blow the bellows, old man." 
•" A bawbee bap, 

A leather strap. 

An a tow t' hang the baker." 
" Four-an-twenty tailors 

Chasin at a snail, 

The snail shot oot its horns 

Like a hummil coo. 

' Ah,' cried the foremost tailor, 

' We're a' stickit noo.' " * 
" Wallace wicht 

Upon a nicht 

Took in a stack o' bere, 

An or the moon at fair daylicht 

Hid di-aff o't till's mere." 
" That's the lady's forks an knives. 

An that's the lady's table. 

An that's the lady's looking-glass. 

An that's the-baby's cradle." 

This rhyme was repeated on placing the fingers in such 

positions as to imitate knives, tables, &c. 

* Of. Henderson, p. 26. 

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The following is a rhyme on the numbers up to twenty :— 

" One, two, 
Buckle my shoe ; 
Three, four. 
Open the door ; 
Five, six, 
Pick up sticks ; 
Seven, eight, 
Lay them straight ; 
Nine, ten, 
A good fat hen ; 
Eleven, tvpel'. 
Gar her swell ; 
Thirteen, fourteen, 
Draw the curtain ; 
Fifteen, sixteen, 
Maid in the kitchen ; 
Seventeen, eighteen, 
I am waitin ; 
Nineteen, twenty. 
My stomach's empty ; 
Please, mother, give me my dinner." 

" Steal a needle, steal a preen. 
Steal a coo or a' be deen." 

This sensible rhyme was often repeated to children when they 
were guilty of pilfering, or began to show any inclination to 
do so. 

The following is called the " Souter's Grace ": — 

" What are we before thee, O King Crispin? Naething bit a parcel o' easy 
ozy sooter bodies, nae worth one old shoe to mend another. Yet thou hast given 
us leather to yark, and leather to bark, oot-seam awls, and in-seam awls, pincers 
and petrie-balls, lumps o' creesch and balls n' rosit, and batter in u, cappie. 

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iOYS seem to fight at times for the fun of fighting, 
and it is not at all difficult to get up a fight at any 
time. One will say to his companion, " Jock, will 
ye faicht Tam ? " " Aye, will a," is at once the 
answer. Away the fighter, with a few companions, sets out in 
search of Tam. Tam is soon found. " Eh, Jock says he'll try 
a faicht wee ye, Tam," cries out one of Jock's companions. 
" Will ye dee't ? " Another shouts out, " Eh, Tam, man, ye're 
fairt at Jock." " A'm nae fairt at Jock, nor at him an you 
athegither," is the indignant answer. " Come on, Jock," shout 
two or three voices. Jock and his opponent meet, and look each 
other in the face. A third steps in between the two, holds out 
his arm between them and says, " The best man spit our that." * 
Jock spits. Then all cry, " Follow yir spittle," and Jock rushes 
on his opponent, and the two fight till they are tired. Some- 
times, when one wishes to get up a fight with a companion who 
does not wish to fight, he challenges him by striking him a 
blow, which is called the " coordie blow." If he does not accept 
the challenge he is set down as a coward, and all who see the 
blow struck cry out, " coordie, coordie." 

It was always accounted cowardly for two boys to attack one, 
hence the saying : — 

" Ane for ane may compare, 
Bit twa for ane is raither sehr." 

In starting on a race, or in doing anything that required a 
little space to do it, when the onlookers were pressing too near, 
the cry was, " Gie 'im Scots room," which seemed to mean 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 32. 

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about as much space as enabled him to toss both his arms at full 
length around him. 

In parts of Banffshire boys, on concluding a bargain, linked 
the little fingers of their right hands together, shook the hands 
with an up-and-down motion, and repeated the words :— 

" Ring, ring the pottle bell; 
Gehn ye brak the bargain, 
Ye'U gang f hell." 

This ceremony was called " ringing the pottle-bell," and to 
break a bargain, after being sealed in this fashion, was regarded 
as the height of wickedness. 

The following was current about Fraserburgh : — 

" Ring a bottle, ring a bell, 
The first brae it ye cum till, 
Ye'U fa' doon an brack yer neck, 
An that 'ill the bargain brack." 

Here is another solemn formula of bargain-making. When 
the bargain was struck the one said to the other, " Will ye brak 
the bargain ? " " No," was the answer. " Swear, than," said 
the first. Then came this oath : — 

" As sure's death 
Cut ma breath 
Ten mile aneth the earth, 
rite man, black man 
Bui'n me t' death.'' 

If the bargain was broken, the doom of the breaker was looked 
upon as sure, and with awe. 
Here is a shorter formula : — 

" As snre's death 
Cut ma breath." 

With these words the buyer and seller drew the forefinger across 
the throat. 

It was a maxim in the code of honour that if one made a gift 
of anything to a companion it was not to be asked back. If 
such a thing was done the taunt was thrown at him — " Gie a 
thing, tack a thing, the ill-man's bonnie thing." 

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The following are more explicit : — 

" Tack a thing an gee a thing, 
The aul' man's gond ring. 
Lie but, lie ben, 
Lie amo' the bloecly men." 

And :— 

" Tack a thing an gee a thing 
Is the aul' man's byename, 
Kow but, row ben, 
Kow amo' the bleedy men." 

Here is a shorter version :— 

" Lie but, lie ben. 
Lie amo' the bleedy men." 

To act the informer was and still is looked upon as something 
very mean and cowardly, and one who was guilty of such an 
action led no pleasant life among his companions. Whenever 
he appeared for a time after giving the information he was 
hailed with the words : — 

" Clash-pyot, clash-pyot. 
Sits in the tree. 
Ding doon aipples 
Ane, twa, three; 
Ane for the lady, 
An ane for the laird, 
An ane for the clash-pyot 
It sits in the tree." 

One convicted of lying was received among his fellows with 
the words of welcome : — 

" Leearie, leearie, lieht the lamps, 
Lang legs and crookit shanks; 
Hang the leearie o'er a tree. 
That 'ill gar the leearie never lee." 

This shorter form was repeated again and again : — 
" Leearie, leearie, lick stick." 

If a boy or girl wished to get a share of any bit of sweetmeat 
or fruit from a companion, the eyes were shut, the hand was • 
held out, and the words were repeated : — 

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" Fill a pottie, fill a pannic, 
Fill a blin' man's hannie. 

When one boy or girl made a present of " sweeties," lozenges, 

or such like, to another, if only one or two were given, the 

following words were repeated : — 

" Ane 's nane, 
Twa 's some, 

Three 's a birn, ^ 

Four 's a horse laid." 

A boy, when he finds anything that has been lost, cries out, 
" The thing it's fun's free," and, if he has a companion, he cries 
out " Halfs." It is considered that, unless the two cries are 
uttered almost at once, the boy who first speaks is entitled to 
the whole of the found property. 

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" A Monanday's child 
Hiz a bonnie face, 
A Tyesday's child 
Is fou o' grace, 
A Wednesday's child 
Is the child of TToe, 
A Feersday's child 
Hiz far to go, 
A Friday's child 
Is levin an givin, 
A Saitirday's child 
Works hard for his livin, 
Bit them it's bom on Sunday 
Is happy, blithe, «jid gay." * 

HE child that was born with a caul was said to be 
successful in life.f The caul, or " silly hoc," was 
much prized. It brought success to the possessor, 
and the smallest part of it was a sure guard against 
drowning. Many an emigrant has gone to the possessor of 
such a powerful charm, got a nail's breadth of it, sewed it with 
all care into what was looked upon as a safe part of the clothes, 
and worn it during the voyage, in the full belief that the ship 
was safe from wreck, and would have a prosperous voyage. 

It was believed that the possessor of the caul could divine from 
it the state of health of the one who was born with it. If it was 
hard and crisp, the one who was born with it was in health ; 
but, if it was soft and flabby, the health was weak. 
■ It was a belief in some districts that the doom of the child 
that came into the world feet first was to be hanged. A good 
many years ago a boy was born in this way in Banff. He grew 
up a fine lad, but the terrible idea always haunted the mother, 
and she was miserable. He fell ill and died. The mother told 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 9. t ^i^- P- 22. 

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my informant how great a relief the death was to her. A load 
was taken off her, she said. 

The hair on one side of the forehead in some children stands 
nearly erect, somewhat in the shape of the marks cattle make on 
their skins by licking them. It goes by the name of " the broon 
coo's lick." 

A strong growth of hair on the chest, arms, legs, and hands 
of a man, was accounted a sign of strength as well as of a con- 
tented mind. Hence the saw : — 

" A hairy man's a happy man, 
A hairy wife's a witch." 

To find out if a person is proud. Take a hair of the head and 
pull it tightly between the nails of the first finger and thumb. 
If it curls, its owner is proud ; and the amount of curl it takes 
is the measure of pride. 

When one's hair was cut, it must be all carefully collected 
and burned to prevent it from being used by birds to build their 
nests. If used for that purpose headache was the result. * 

The child who had long slender fingers was believed not to 
have to make a living by any handicraft or manual toil, but by 
merchandise, or at the desk, or by one of the learned pro- 

Large hands and feet were looked upon as indications of 
bodily strength. 

" Lucken toes," that is, toes joined by a web, indicated luck. 

The man, who has the second and third toes of nearly equal 
length, proves unkind to his wife. 

White spots on the nails are called " presents." The nearer 
the spots are to the points of the nails, the nearer are the gifts.f 

It was the notion that the marriage ring was put on the ring- 
finger because there goes a vein directly from that finger to the 

A black speck sticking to a tooth indicated that the one, on 
whose tooth it was, had been telling lies. Such black specks 
were called "lies." 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 112. t ^^^- P- 113- 

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Almost every sensation of the human body was endowed with 
a meaning. Ringing in the ears was called the " dead bell." 
A glow in the ears indicated that the tongue of calumny was 
busy. Bite the corner of the neck-tie, and the calumniator bit 
the evilspeaking member. 

An itching in the eyes indicated tears and sorrow ; in the 
nose, that a letter was lying in the post-office for you ; in the 
palm of the right hand, that the hand of a friend was soon to 
be shaken ; in that of the left, that money was to be received 
in a short time ; in the soles of the feet, that a journey would 
shortly be undertaken.* 

Sneezing held an important place in the fancy of the folk. 
Here is the rhyme about it: — 

" Sneeze on Monday; sneeze for a letter. 
Sneeze on Tyesday; something better. 
Sneeze on "Wednesday; kiss a stranger. 
Sneeze on Feersday; sneeze for danger. 
Sneeze on Friday; sneeze for sorrow. 
Sneeze on Saiturday; kiss your sweetheart to-morrow." f 

The Deaf and Dumb. 

The deaf and dumb were looked upon with particular awe. 
It was believed that they had the faculty of looking into futurity, 
and of discovering what was hidden from their more fortunate 
fellow-men. This faculty was given them to make up for the 
loss they suffered. All, however, had not the faculty alike. 
Such as had the repute of seeing into the future and of penetrat- 
ing into secret things were consulted by those who wished for 
light on any matter that was beyond their ken. If anything 
was lost and could not be found, if anything was stolen and the 
thief could not be traced out, if any matter was in dependence 
and the issue anxiously looked for, the durnmy's skill was called 
into requisition. If friends were absent and had not been heard 
of for a time, a consultation was held with the dummy whether 
they were well or ill, whether they were dead or alive, or 
* Cf. Henderson, pp. 112, 113. f lUd. p. 137. 

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whether they -would return. Mothers through them read tlieir 
children's lot in life, young women took them into their con- 
fidence in their love affairs, and young men tried to find out 
what was before them in their course through life. Wonderful 
were the stories current, how this young man was predicted to 
go abroad, and how he did go ; how this young woman was to be 
married, and how she did marry accordingly ; how this friend 
never returned, for the dummy always blew him away, and shook 
the head with a look of sorrow when his return was spoken of ; 
how this one died, for when consulted by anxious friends about 
recovery the dummy showed signs of sorrow, scraped a little 
hole in the earth or in the ashes on the hearth, put a straw or 
a chip of wood, or some such thing into it, and covered it up. 

Those of weak intellect were generally treated with tenderness. 
The common belief was that the father and mother of such a 
child would always have a sufficiency of the good things of 
time — that it was rather lucky than unfortunate to have such a 

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dream of a white horse fortells the coming of a 

To dream of a horse forewarns the arrival of a 

To dream of swine indicates something is coming to cause 
much annoyance. To dream of eggs has the same meaning. 

To dream of fresh fish means the arrival of children into the 

To dream of butter indicates coming luck. 

To dream of fruit or any sort of crop in season has the same 
meaning, but dreaming of such out of season means bad fortune. 

To dream of fire is a prelude to the reception of " hasty 
news," often of a distressing kind. 

To di'eam of water means coming disease. 

To dream of losing a tooth forewarns of the loss of a friend.* 

To dream of being bitten by dogs or cats is interpreted as 
the plotting of enemies. 

To dream of one who is dead has the meaning that unsettled 
weather is at hand. 

For one unmarried to dream of being dead is looked upon 
as approaching marriage. 

To dream of loosing the shoes is indicative of coming mis- 
fortune, but to dream of receiving a pair of new shoes means 
gaining a new friend. 

To dream of seeing one smeared with blood is looked upon 

as a warning that an accident is to happen to the person, or 

that death is at hand. 


When one is setting out on any undertaking the stajfF was 
thrown to find out whether there would be success or not. The 
statf was taken by the end and thrown as high as possible, and 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 111. 

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in such a way as to turn over and over lengthwise. If the head 
of tlie staff fell in the direction in which the journey was to be 
undertaken, there would be success. Servants, on setting out to 
a feeing market, threw the staff to divine in what direction they 
were to go for the next half-year. They were to go in the 
direction in which the head of the staff lay when it fell. 

It is accounted unlucky to turn back to the house when you 
set out on any business.* 

When one is on a visit, if, on leaving, anything is forgotten, ■ 
the saying is that the guest will soon return. 

It is a common saying that it is only after a seven years' 
friendship one ought to stir the fire in a fi'iend's house. To do 
so without being asked is looked upon by many as bad manners. 

It is quite the etiquette with many of the common people, 
when sitting at table with one of a higher rank, not to begin 
eating till the one of higher rank has begun. 

Many, on calling at a bouse of the better class on business 
with the master or mistress, had a very strong dislike to tell 
their names, when asked by tlie servant who admitted them, 
that it might be given to the one on whom the call was made. 
Sometimes the name was positively refused, although there was 
no reason to suspect that admission would not be granted if the 
name were known. 

If the "byke o' the crook" or "the shalls " are turned 
towards the door when a new female servant makes her arrival, 
she will in no long time leave the service. The first work she is 
set to do is to fetch water from tlie well. 

If one was rather suddenly seized with a craving for food, 
accompanied with a feeling of faintness, or if one seemed to eat 
more heartily than usual, it was attributed to going over what 
was called " a hungry hillock." 

In cooking any dish, if the cooking seemed to require longer 
time Ijian usual, it was said that there was " hungry folk's meat " 
in the pot. 

In cooking, all the stirring must be done from left to right. 
Stirring food " the vrang wye " brought on bowel complaint. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 117. 

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The cakes, when served up, had to be laid on the trencher 
with what was called " the right side " uppermost. The x'ight 
side was the side that was uppermost when placed first on the 
" girdle " to be baked. To have placed cakes with the wrong 
side uppermost before any one was accounted an insult. Tradition 
has it that it was only to the traitor who betrayed Wallace to the 
English and to his descendants that cakes were served up in this 
way. Hence the proverb : — " Turn the bannock wi a fause 

Many had a habit of putting a little straw into the brogue, or 
shoe, or boot in later times, as a sole to keep the foot warm. 
When the " shee wisp," as it was commonly called, was used 
up, it was spit upon, and cast into the fire to be burned. On no 
account was it to be thrown into the dung-pit. 

In dressing, the right stoclcing must be put on first, as well as 
the right shoe. Many clung most scrupulously to this habit.* 

When one put on a piece of new dress, a coin of the realm, ' 
called " hansel," had to be put into one of the pockets, f When 
one put on a piece of new dress, a kiss was given to and taken 
from the wearer, and was called the " beverage o' the new claes." 
When a boy or a girl wearing a piece of new dress entei'ed a 
neighbour's house something was given as " hansel." 

If a button was sewed on to a piece of dress, or a single stitch 
put into it, on Sunday, the devil undid the work at night. 

It was accounted lucky to keep a crooked sixpence in the purse 
or pocket. $ 

It was unlucky to make a present of a knife or a pair of 
scissors, or any sharp or sharp-pointed instrument. It cut 
asunder fi'iendship and love. § 

It was accounted unlucky to sing before breakfast. Hence 

the saying : — 

" Sing afore breakfast, 
Greet aifter 't." || 

A tea-stalk floating in the cup indicated a stranger. It was 

taken from the cup and tested with the teeth whether soft or 

* Cf. F. L. Record,, vol. i. p. 12 (48). f Cf. Henderson, p. 119. 

X Cf. Henderson, p. 112. 

§ Cf. Henderson, pp. 117, 118, and F.. L. Record, vol. i. p. 12 (43). 

II Cf. Henderson, p. 113, and F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 11 (34). 

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hard. If soft, the stranger was a female ; if hard, a male. It 
was then put on the back of the left hand and struck three times 
with the back of the right. The left hand was then held up and 
shghtly shaken. If the tea-stalk fell off, the stranger was not to 
arrive ; if it stuck, the stranger would arrive. 

A small black speck on the wick of a burning candle portends 
the arrival of a letter. 

A film of carbon on the rib of a grate in which a fire is 
burning is regarded as the forerunner of a letter. 

The small fiery spots that sometimes appear on the bottom of 
a pot just lifted off the fire went by the name of " sodgers," and 
were looked upon as men fighting, and as indicative of war. 

The wife took from her husband's pocket a five-pound note. 
He missed it, and questioned the wife. She denied the charge, 
and at the same time cast suspicion upon a servant girl. The 
husband consulted a canny man. He wrote a secret formula on 
a slip of paper, folded it, tied it with a thread, and gave it to 
the man with instructions to kindle a fire after all the members 
of the household were fast asleep, and to hang the charm in the 
" crook " over the fire when it was burning brightly, and as near 
the flame as possible, so as not to burn it. The man faithfully 
carried out his instructions. No long time passed till his wife 
jumped in pain and fear from her bed, confessed the theft, and 
restored the note. She never enjoyed sound health afterwards. 
The charm took effect only if the note had not been changed. 

A nobleman was at one time driving in his carriage near 
Banff. The horses at first became restive, and then they stood 
stock-still, and no amount of lashing or coaxing would make 
them move. They had been arrested. The wise woman of the 
district was sent for in all haste. She came, and in a short 
time the arrestment was taken off, and the horses went on in 
their usual style. 


There was among many a strong reluctance to report a theft 
to the magistrate, or to give any clue to the detection of a thief. 
To do so was accounted unlucky. It was also loolied upon as a 
source of mishap to geP'?(^^f' ^K j!f fiTifg^iat had been stolen, and 


to keep it in possession. A five-pound note disajjpeared from a 
house. Suspicion fell upon a woman of somewhat doubtful 
honesty, and some of the members of the owner's household, 
much against his will, charged her with the theft. She denied. 
So manifest however was the crime that a friend of the woman 
paid back part of the money. This caused so much annoyance 
to the owner, that he could not rest in peace till he had given 
away in charity the whole sum that had been paid back. " I'll 
hae nae stoun faangs i' the hoose," said the man. 

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Causes of Disease. 
Casting III. 

I HE belief in "casting ill" on one was quite common. 
This power of " casting ill " was not in the posses- 
sion of all, yet in almost every district there was one 
or more in possession of this dreaded power. To 
such a one no one would have been fool-enough to have denied 
a request, however much it would have cost to grant it. 

There were two modes of working ill on an enemy. In the 
one mode, a small figure in human shape was made of wax and 
placed near the fire in such a position as to melt very slowly. 
As the figure melted, the man or the woman or the child that 
was represented by it wasted away by lingering disease. In the 
other mode, the figure was made of clay, stuck full of pins, and 
placed on the hearth among the hot ashes. As the figure di-ied 
up and crumbled into dust, slow disease burned up the life of 
the hapless victim represented by the clay figure.* 

Tlie 111 Ee. 

The power of the " evil eye " was possessed by some. It was 
supposed to be inherent in some families, and was handed down 
from generation to generation to one or more members of the 
families. The power was called into use at the will of the pos- 

* Cf . Henderson, p. 228. 
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sessors, and was exercised against tliose who had incurred their 
displeasure, or on behalf of those who wished to be avenged on 
their enemies, and paid for its exercise.* 


There was a class of people whose curses, or, as they were 
commonly called, " prayers," were much dreaded, and everyone 
used the greatest caution lest they might call forth their dis- 
pleasure. To do so was to bring down tlieir prayers; and 
disaster of some kind or other soon fell on those who had been 
so unfortunate as to fall under their anger, according to the 
nature of the prayer. 


Praise beyond measure — praise accompanied with a kind of 
amazement or envy — was followed by disease or accident. 

Hidden Grave. 
Passing over a " hidden grave " produced a rash. 

Sudden News, Fright. 

Sudden startling news, or a sudden fright, was supposed to 
dislodge the heart ; lingering disease followed. 


Here and there over the country there were men and women 
famed for their secret wisdom, by which they were able to cure 
almost every disease, both in man and in beast. Generally, 
when such a man or woman had to be consulted, one at a distance 
was chosen. 

In certain families was supposed to reside the power of curing 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 187, 188. 


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only particular diseases, and this power went down from one 
generation to another to one or more of the family. 

For example: one family had the power of extracting motes 
from the eye. When the operator was applying his skill, he 
wrought himself up into such a high state of muscular exertion 
and excitement, that the perspiration fell in drops from his face 
and hair, while he kept his hand passing over the affected eye, 
and repeating in Gaehc the following formula, which is given in 
Enghsh:— " The charm that the Great Origin made to the right 
eye of her good son ; take the mote out of his eye, and put it on 
my hand." 

In other families there was the gift of setting broken limbs, 
and in others of adjusting dislocated limbs, and of rubbing 
sprains. The thumbs and fingers of such were looked upon as 
especially made and fitted for their purpose. Wonderful were 
the stories current about this one's sprained ankle, and the next 
one's dislocated wrist, being made sound and strong in a short 
time, after being for months under this and the next doctor's 
hand, by the treatment of this " canny " man or that " skeely " 
woman who had " the gift." 

Some pretended to have the power of '' charming " diseases. 
On such the Church laid the bann, when their deeds were brought 
to light. 

'• Apryl 12, 1637, Issotell Malcolme, parishoner of Botarye, sumonded to this 
daye for charming, compeared, and confessed that she had beene in Tse of 
charmeing this twenty yeeres, and being requp'ed to name some of these whome 
she had charmed, she named Jeane Kudderfuird, spouse to James Gordonne, in 
Torrisoyle, and [ ] Innes, spouse to Johne Ogilvye, of Miltoune; she 

confessed that she had charmed both these gentlewemen for the bairne bed; and 
sicklyke, she confessed that she had charmed ane chyldes sore eye in Bade, within 
the parish of Ruven. The censure of the said Issobell was continued in hope 
that she should be found yet more gniltye. The moderator, Mr. Robert Jameson, 
reported that, he hearing that she vsed charmeing, he raised her from the table, 
she having a purpose to communicat." * 

Some women were supposed to have a lucky hand in di'essing 
boils, and if a boil was long in coming to maturity such a 

* Extracts from tlw Presbytery Booh of Strathhogie, p. 15. Spalding Club. 
Aberdeen, A.d. 1843. 

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woman was called in to dress it, in the full hope that, if it did 
not burst under her hands, it would do so in a very short 

A posthumous child was said to possess the gift of curing 
almost any disease simply by looking on the patient. 

It was a common belief that certain folks, commonly women, 
had the power of showing in a looking-glass the face of any one 
who had been wicked enough to " cast ill " upon an enemy, or 
upon an enemy's child. When such a one offered to do this, 
the offer was declined, and the cure only was sought. 

About thirty-eight years ago there lived near Broadford, in 
Skye, a wise woman famed for the cures she wrought. Here is 
one. A Highlander on the mainland fell ill, and wasted away 
very rapidly, so that he was at last scarcely able to move. No 
medicine was of any avail, and death looked not far off. At 
last it was resolved to take him to the wise woman. The patient 
was carried by his two brothers to the boat at Strome Ferry. 
When the boat reached Broadford, he was lifted from it, and laid in 
a cart, "and driven to the woman's house. When about a hundred 
yards from the house the company was met by the woman. 
She addressed the patient by name, although he and all his family 
were total strangers to her. At the same time she told him that 
he had been too long in coming, still that it would be all right 
with him, though three days more would have put an end to his 
earthly career. She conducted him and his two brothers to her 
house, and spread before them the best she had — new milk, 
bread, and butter. The patient, strange to say, ate heartily. 
Nothing was done, so far as the three men could see ; and all 
the woman said about a cure was that the sufferer would be able 
to walk home from the boat. On leaving, he asked the woman 
if she could tell who had wrought the evil on him. She replied 
that she could easily do so, and that it was a neighbour. She 
told him to ask his sister — caUing her by her name, although she 
had never seen her, neither had any of the brothers mentioned her 
name in the woman's hearing — to put all the milk they had into 
a pot, and to place the pot over the fire. " In a short time a 
woman will come and ask to be allowed to put her hand among 

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the milk. That's the woman who has wrought you the ill." 
The three brothers returned to Broadford, took boat, and sailed 
across the ferry. The patient walked home. The wise woman's 
order about the boiling of the milk was obeyed, and in a short 
time after the pot with the milk was hung over the fire a neigh- 
bouring woman came in with great haste, and asked to be allowed 
to put her hand among the milk. The patient soon regained his 
usual health, and lived to a good old age. 

The wise woman had a daughter. When on her death-bed, 
she one day called her, told her that her end was not far off, 
and said to her that she wished to leave her the secret power siie 
had. The daughter refused to take it, saying that she intended 
to live a single life, and that she would thus have no one to 
whom she could commit the gift, for she said she could entrust 
it to none but to one of our own body. So the power died. 

Some articles, that have been acquired by certain families, 
have the virtue of healing all manner of diseases in man and 
beast, and others, that of keeping prosperity in the families. 
The best known of the articles possessing curative powers are 
" Willox Ball and Bridle." 

The " Ball " is the half of a glass ball, whose original purpose 
it is not easy to divine. It was concealed for untold ages in the 
heart of a brick, and was cut from its place of concealment by a 
fairy, and given generations ago to an ancestor of the present 
owner as payment for a kind service. 

The " Bridle " is a small brass hook, said to have been cut 
from a kelpie's bridle. This kelpie had been in the habit of 
appearing as a beautifal black horse, finely caparisoned, on a 
well-frequented road in the Highlands. By his winning ways 
he allured unwary ti-avellers to mount him. No sooner had the 
weary, unsuspecting victim seated himself in the saddle than 
away darted the horse with more than the speed of the hurri- 
cane, and plunged into the deepest part of Loch Ness, and the 
rider was never more seen. For long had kelpie carried on this 
cruel game, bringing sorrow to many a household. His day 
however came to an end. A hardy HigUander was one nio-ht 
returning home. 

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" Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scot's sonnet- 
Whiles glowering round wi' prudent cares, 
Lest bogles catch him unawares," 

when he heard the footsteps of a horse. Shortly he found him- 
self beside a beautiful horse. He knew what this horse was, 
and what he had done. The horse used all his wonted wiles to 
make the man mount him ; he failed. Then he became enraged, 
and tried to bite the man and to trample him under his feet. 
The brave Highlander sprang from his enemy, drew his sword 
in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and struck with 
strong arm at the creature's head. The stroke took eflGect, and 
the small hook fell. It was observed, dark though it was, and 
picked up quick as lightning. Off rushed the man with his 
prize, for he knew that it was a prize, and fled for life. The 
kelpie followed, but somehow with greatly diminished speed. 
Diminished though kelpie's speed was, it was a terrible race. 
The man reached his house, opened the door, threw the 
" bridle " into the house, cried out to preserve it, and then fell 
exhausted on the threshold. It was too late for kelpie, and he 
disappeared for ever, leaving behind him what would be of so 
much use to man. The possessor of this " Ball and Bridle" 
has but to take water, put first the ball into it, turn it through 
it three times, repeating the words, " In the name of the Father, 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and then the bridle, doing 
the same thing, and repeating the same words, and a healing 
virtue is given to the water. The sword that did the good deed 
was sometimes waved over the water with the utterance of the 
same formula. 

Others of these articles had the power of curing only one 
disease. A small perforated ball, made of Scotch pebble, which 
has been in the possession of the present family for at least six 
generations, has the virtue of curing diseases of the eye. It 
goes by the name of the " ee-stehn," and is thought to contain 
all the colours of the eye. It must on no account be allowed to 
fall to the ground. When put into a mixture of milk and water, 
a lotion is formed capable of curing every kind of disease of the 

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An amber bead, vernacularly called " laamer," was commonly 
used to remove a chaff from the eye, both of man and beast. A 
necklace of amber beads was v\^orn as a cure for disease of the 

There vs^ere certain wells whose waters were reputed as 
possessing the virtue of curing all kinds of diseases. To some 
of them pilgrimages were made at any time, and to others the^ 
were made for the most part at certain seasons. Round some 
of these wells lay stones, resembling as nearly as possible the 
different members of the human body, and these stones were 
called by the names of the members they represented, as " the 
ee-stehn," " the hehd-stehn." The patient took a draught of the 
water of the well, washed the affected part of the body, and 
rubbed it well with the stone corresponding to it, when the 
disease was local. Something, — such as a pin, a button, or a piece 
of money, the property of the health-seeking pilgrim, — was left 
in the well, or a rag torn from the patient's clothing was hung 
on one of the neighbouring trees or bushes. No one would 
have been foolhardy enough to have even touched what had 
been left, far less to have cai'ried it off. A child, or one who 
did not know, was most carefully instructed why such things 
were left in and around the well, and strict charge was laid not 
to touch or carry any of them off. Whoever carried off one of 
such relics contracted the disease of the one who left it. 

On the farm of Altthash is situated such a well. It is situated 
at the bottom of a rugged brae in a deep ravine to the south 
of Fochabers. It was originally situated on the hill above the 
present farm-steading. An unscrupulous man one day com- 
mitted on the well a gross indignity. Before next morning it 
had changed its position, and was welling forth in full strength 
near the spot where it now is. 

It may be here remarked that the belief was that wells changed 
their position when an indignity was committed on them, and that 
it was a very rash act to change in any way whatever a well by 
deepening it, or by building it, or by leading its waters to a differ- 
ent site. The well sooner or later returned to its original condition. 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 145. 
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]:4EECnCRAIi'T. 41 

The first three Sundays of May were the great days of pilgrim- 
age to this well, and of these three Sundays the first was the 
greatest. On these days might be seen going from all corners 
of the surrounding country those who were afilicted with any 
ailment, or fancied so, to drink of the health-giving waters of 
the well, and to wash in them. Many, however, made the 
pilgrimage out of pleasure, particularly the young unmarried, 

Fergan Well, said to be so named because dedicated to St. 
Fergus, is situated on the south-east side of Knock Fergan, a hill 
of considerable height on the west side of the river Avon, opposite 
the manse of Kirkmichael. The first Sunday of May and Easter 
Sunday were the principal Sundays for visiting it, and many from 
the surrounding parishes, who were afiected with skin diseases or 
running sores, came to drink of its water, and to wash in it. The 
hour of arrival was twelve o'clock at night, and the drinking of 
the water, and the washing of the diseased part, took place before 
or at sunrise. A quantity of the water was carried home for 
future use. Pilgrimages were made up to the end of September, 
by which time the healing virtues of the water had become less. 
Such after-visits seem to have begun in later times.* 

" Wallak kirk " was a place of resort for the cure of disease. 
It was the church of the ancient parish of Dumeth, which now 
forms part of the parish of Glass. It was dedicated to St. 
Wolok. The church and churchyard lie on a haugh on the 
banks of the Deveron, just below the castle of Beldornie. The 
Saint's Well is near the church. Near the place are two pools, 
called baths, formed by the river flowing between two rocks. 
In them many bathed for the cure of their diseases, and mothers 
bathed their sickly children in them in the full faith that a cure 
would be brought about. May was the time when the water had 
efficacy. The Church interposed and forbade all superstitious 
worship at this church.. 

" Att Glas, 7th Junij, 1648. Ordained to restraine buriallis in the kirk, and 
to censure all superstition at Wallak Kirk."+ 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 230, 231. 

■f Mxtraots from the Presbytenj Book cf Strathiogie, p. 89. Spalding Club. 
Aberdeen, a.d. 1843. 

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Eosemarkie, a well a little to the south of Buckie, is famed 
for the healing powers of its water. The present tenant of the 
farm on which it is situated closed it up. Not long ago a few 
mothers from Buckie, whose bairns were dwinin, went to the 
former site of the well and scooped out a hole. It was soon 
filled with water. The children were well washed in it. No 
sooner were they placed on their mothers' backs to be carried 
home than they fell fast asleep, and "they battent like bauds aye 
sin syne." 

Chapels were also resorted to for the cure of disease. 

" Peter Wat snmonded to this daye for goeing in pilgrimage to the chappell 
beyond the water of Spey, compeared and confessed his fault. Ordained to 
make his repentance, and to paye fonr markes penaltye." 

" Agnes Jack snmonded to this daye for goeing in pilgrimage to the same 
chappell, compeared, and confessed that she went to the said chappell with ane 
diseased woman, but gave her great oath that she vsed no kynd of superstitions 
worship. She is ordained to mak her pnblike repentance, and to abstaine from 
the lyke in tyme comeing."* (1636.) 

Not merely wells and chapels were resorted to but rocks. 

Clach-na-bhan (stone of the women) is a huge granite rock on 
the top of Meall-ghaineaih (sandhill), a hill on the east side of 
Grienavon. Near the top of this rock a hollow has been scooped 
out by the influence of the weather, somewhat in the shape of 
an arm chair. Women about the time of their accouchement 
ascended the hill, scaled the rock, and seated themselves in the 
hollow, under the belief that such an act secured a speedy and 
successful birth. Unmarried women also made pilgrimages to 
it, in hopes that such an act would have the effect of bringing 
husbands to them. 

The III Ee. 

" The ill ee." Gro to a ford, where the dead and the living 

cross, draw water from it, pour it into a " cog " with three 

" girds " over a " crosst shilling," and then sprinkle the water 

over the victim of the " ill ee " in the name of the Father, the 

Son, and the Holy Ghost.f 

• Extracts from the Presbytery Booh of Strathiogie, p. 8S. Spalding Club. 
Aberdeen, A.D. 1843. 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 188. 

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Pour water over a " erosst shilling," let three draughts of it 
be taken, and the remainder of it buried, wiiilst the shilling is 
preserved. A cure follows. 

Casting tJie Heart. 

Tlie patient was seated. A sieve for sifting meal was put on 
the sufferer's head, and in it were laid, in the form of a cross, a 
comb and a pair of scissors, and over them a " three-girded 
cog," with the girds of wood. Into this cog water was poured. 
Melted lead was slowly dropped from a height into the water. 
Search was then made among the pieces for one resembling as 
nearly as possible a heart. If a piece of such a shape was found, 
it was carefully sewed into a bit of cloth and given to the suf- 
ferer, who had to carry it constantly. If a piece of the form of 
a heart was not found on the first trial, the pieces of lead were 
taken from the water and again melted. The melted lead was 
again dropped into the water, and search made for the heart- 
shaped piece. The process was repeated till the desired piece 
was cast. 

Another mode was somewhat more elaborate. The operator, 
who was generally an old woman renowned for her medical 
skill, set the sieve on the patient's head, and on the sieve she 
placed the " three-girded cog," for no other dish was of any 
virtue. The comb was placed on the bottom of the cog, and the 
water was poured through one of the loops of the scissors into 
the cog. Lead was melted and dropped through the same loop. 
After the heart-shaped piece was found, the patient took three 
draughts of the water in the cog, and washed the hands and face 
with the remainder, which was then thrown over a place where 
the dead and the living cross, that is, a public road. The patient 
might either bury the piece of lead on the boundary between 
two lairds' lands, or keep it most scrupulously under lock and 
key. During the process the operator kept repeating the words, 
"Ghen ony thing be oot o'ts place, may the Almiclity in's 
mercies fesst back." 

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Sleepy Fever. 

There was a disease that bore the name of the "sleepy fiwers." 
In this disease the patient was affected with a strong tendency to 
sleep, and had no inclination to engage in anything. Hence it 
was said of any one lazy at work that he had the " sleepy fiwers." 
The disease was supposed to be seated in some one of the mem- 
bers. Its detection and cure were as follows: — The patient's 
stocking was taken and laid flat ; a worsted thread was placed 
along both sides of it over the toe. The stocking was then care- 
fully rolled up from the toe to the top, so that the two ends were 
left hanging loose on different sides of it. This stocking was 
put three times round each member of the body contrary to the 
course of the sun, beginning with the head. The left of two 
members was taken first. When the stocking was passed round 
an affected member the thread changed its position from outside 
to inside ; but when the member was sound the thread kept its 
position. The process was gone through three times, and in 
perfect silence. The thread was afterwards burned. 

Another mode was as follows : — The one, commonly a woman, 
who was " to look for the fever," went to a ford or bridge, over 
which '' the dead and the living " cross, " atween the sin an the 
sky," commonly in the gloamin, and took up three stones. These 
stones were to represent the head, the heart, and the body, and 
were so named. They were placed overnight among the hot 
ashes on the hearth. In the morning they were taken from 
among the ashes, and dropped one by one into a basin of water. 
The stone, which it was fancied gave forth the loudest sound on 
falling into the water, indicated the part of the body in which 
the disease lay. The process was repeated for three nights in 
succession. The discovery of the disease proved also its cure. 


The cures of this disease were various. 

The first time the fit came, the clothes had to be stripped off, 
and burned on the spot on which the patient fell. 

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Let the sufferer get a shirt in which one had died, put it on, 
and wear it without its being first washed. 

To let blood from the left arm on the first attack brought a 

For a doctor to draw blood from the arm on the first attack, 
as his first patient, effected a cure. 

If any one, on seeing the disease for the first time, drew blood 
from the sufferer's little finger, the malady was cured. 


This disease was cured by " layan." There were two modes 
of operating on the child. The one was much more elaborate 
than the other. 

In the more simple of the two modes one blacksmith was the 
operator, and in the more complicated mode the services of three 
of the same name were required. 

In the more simple mode the rickety child was taken to a 
smithy. A tub was filled with water. This water, by plunging 
pieces of hot iron amongst it, was raised to as high a temperature 
as was comfortable for a bath. The blacksmith then received 
the child from the mother, and bathed it in this water. He also 
gave the child a little of the water to drink. 

The more elaborate process was in this manner : — 

The child was taken before sunrise to a smithy in which three 
blacksmiths of the same name wrought. One of the smiths 
bathed the child in the water-trough of the smithy. After being 
bathed the young patient was laid on the anvil, and all the tools 
of the shop were passed one by one over the child, and the use 
of each was asked. A second bath followed. If a fee was exacted, 
the virtue of the " lay " was lost. The three blacksmiths must 
all take part in the work. 

Lumbago, Rheumatism, and Sprains. 

Those who were born with their feet first possessed great power 
to heal all kinds of sprains, lumbago, .and rheumatism, either by 

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rubbing the affected part, or by trampling on it. The chief 
virtue lay in the feet. Those who came into the world in this 
fashion often exercised their power to their own profit. 

The water in which skate was boiled, " skate bree," was 
accounted an efficacious lotion for sprains and rheumatism in 
man, gout in pigs, and " crochles " in cattle. 

Whooping^ Cough, 

A decoction of sheep's " pushlocks," that is, the excrements 
of the sheep, was a cure for this disease. The same decoction 
was a cure for jaundice. 

Eating the food with a " quick-horn " spoon, that is, with a 
spoon made from the horn taken from a living animal, was con- 
sidered a very efficacious remedy. 

A draught of water from the hollow of a detached boulder 
effected a cure. 

Let the patient be taken to the house of a married woman 
whose maiden name is the same as that of her husband, and let 
her give the invalid something to eat — " a piece," — and a cure 
will speedily follow. If the i^atient be taken to and from home 
through a wood, so much more efficacious will the cure be. 

If the patient was taken to another laird's laud the disease was 
left there. 

Let the first man seen riding on a white horse be asked what 
the cure is. What he names, is the cure.* 

Passing the patient three times under the belly of a piebald 
horse put the malady to flight.f 

The milk of an ass was a "sovereign specific. 

The disease was cured by riding on an ass. 

lili/e Disease. 

Catch a frog and lick its eye with the tongue. The one who 
does so has only to lick with the tongue any diseased eye, and a 
cure is brought about. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. Ii2, and F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 38 (115). 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 142. 

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JEri/sipelas, or "Rose." 

One cure for erysipelas was to cover it with a piece of cloth 
of scarlet colour. Another cure for this disease Avas to apply to 
it the "Herb Robert" {Geranium Robertianum), whose stalks, 
leaves, and flower are of a purplish colour. This, no doubt, 
was on the principle of like colour to like colour. 

Sting of Nettle. 

A sovereign remedy for the sting of the nettle was the mucus 
that imbedded the petioles of the young leaves ' of the common 


The common cure for this disease was rubbing the diseased 
spot with silver. The modes of rubbing were various. 

Put a new shilling three times round "the crook," spit a 
" fastin spittle " on it, and with it rub the affected parts. Some, 
in addition, dropped the shilling through the patient's shirt 
before rubbing with it. 

Another method of cure was first to measure the diseased 
spot, and then rub it with a shilling. 

Another cure was to rub the part with a silver watch. 

A supposed cure for ringworm was a decoction of Sun Spurge, 
"little gueedie," or " mair's milk" (JEupJiorbia helioscopia). 

A seventh son, without a daughter, if worms were put into 
his hand before baptism, had the power of healing the disease 
simply by rubbing the affected part with his hand. The common 
belief about such a son was that he was a doctor by nature. 


Certain persons were believed to have the power of curing 
toothache by a summons to depart which could not be resisted. 
It was a common belief that toothache was caused by a worm 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 26, ancl F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 45 (148), 

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at the root of the tooth, and toothache was often simply called 
" the worm." The followmof, or very similar, words, written 
on a slip of paper and carried on the person, were esteemed a 
cure : — 

" Peter sat on a stone weeping. 
Christ came past and said, ' What aileth thee, Peter? ' 
' O, my Lord, my tooth doeth ache.' 
Christ said, ' Rise, Peter, thy tooth shall ache no more.' " * 

There were those who made a habit of selling this charm. It 
was kept ready, rolled up in a neat packet and sealed. 

Go to the churchyard when a grave is being dug, take a skull 
in whose jaw there are teeth, and with the teeth draw a tooth 
from it. A cure follows.| 

Go between the sun and the sky to a ford, a place where the 
dead and the living cross, lift a stone from it with the teeth, and 
the toothache vanishes. 

A cure for toothache was to go to a running stream, lift from 
it with the teeth a stone, put it into " the kist," and keep it. 
When the stone began to waste, so did the tooth, and continued 
to waste so long as the stone continued to waste. 

If an infant cuts its first tooth in the upper gum it would be 
short-lived. Hence 

" The bairn it cuts its teeth abeen, 
III nivver see its mairidge shcen."| 

Children were warned not to lick with the tongue the sockets 
of the first teeth when they fell from the gums. If they did so 
the new teeth would grow in twisted, " gammt." 

It was a belief, if a child had toothache with its first set of 
teeth, toothache would not attack the adult teeth. 


Go to a point •where four roads meet, lift a stone, rub the 
warts with dust from below the stone and let the words be 
repeated : — 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 172, and F. L. Itecord, vol. i. p. 40 (127). 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 145. % IhUl. p. 20. 

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" A'm ane, the wart's twa, 
The first ane it comes by 
Taks the warts awa." 

The warts vanish in a short time. 

Eub the wart with one of the comnaon snails.* 

Lick the wart witli the tongue every morning on awakening, 
and it will gradually vanish. 

Wash the wart with water that has collected in the carved 
parts that are found on some old " layer " stones, f 

Rub the wart with a piece of meat, bury the meat, and as it 
decays the wart disappears, f 

Let the wart be rubbed on a man who is the father of an 
adulterous child. The rubbing must take place without the 
man's knowledge. 

Cut as many nodes, or " knots," from straw-stalks as there 
are warts, roll them up in a packet, and bury them in the 
ground, " atween the sin an the sky." As the nodes decay, 
the warts waste, till they disappear. 

Wrap up in a parcel as many grains of barley as there are 
warts, and lay it on the public road. Whoever finds and opens 
the parcel inherits the warts. § 

Great care was used if a wart bled to keep the blood from 
spreading over any part of the hand. This was done under the 
belief that where the blood was left other warts sprang up.|| 


The following charm was repeated as a cure : — 

" My love's ane, 
The hiccup's twa; 
Gehn my love likes me, 
The hiccup 'ill gang awa." 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 138, and F. L. Reeord, vol. i. p. 218 (2). 

t Cf. F. L. Record, p. 223 (11). 

% Cf. Hender.son, p. 139, and F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 41 (130); p. 217 (1). 

§ Ibid. vol. i. p. 220 (7). 

II Cf. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 224 (13). 

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" Tcmpora mutantur." 

HE house was built of various kinds of materials, 
according to the means, and rank, and taste of the 
owner, and according to the supply of the materials. 
It might be of stones and clay ; of alternate courses of 
stone and turf; of rounded, water-worn stones, embedded in 
clay, mixed with chopped straw or heather ; of such clay alone, 
or of turf alone. The inside of the walls was plastered with 
clay, and whitewashed with lime. The couples were placed 
first, and consisted of five or six parts — two upright posts resting 
on the ground, the two arms of the couple, called Jioos, fixed to 
the top of the upright posts or legs, and the two braces, the 
lower one named the hauh, and the upper the croon piece. The 
couple leg and the Jioo M'ere at times braced together by a small 
piece of wood. The couples were bound together by a beam 
laid along the top called the reef-tree. The spaces between the 
upright posts were filled in by the wall. Across the couples 
were fixed the pans, to the number of three or four on each side 
of the roof. On these, and parallel to the couples, were laid the 
kaihers, pieces of trees split with axe, or of bog-fir. Such a 
roof was called pan and kaiber. Over all were placed the dyvots. 
The whole was covered with thatch either of straw, heather, or 
broom. At times, however, there were only the dyvots ; but so 
well were they laid on as to be proof against all kinds of weather 
except the very wildest. 

On laying the foundation of a house, there was the indispens- 
able foonin pint. The workmen were regaled with whisky or 
ale, with bread and cheese. Unless this was done, happiness 
and health would not rs^Yfi£W%eMl(k»JiSfift® It is told of a manse 


on the banks of the Spey that the minister refused to give the 
usual foonin pint, and that, out of rerenge, the masons built into 
the wall a piece of a gravestone. The consequence was, the 
house proved unhealthy, and the ministers very short-lived. 

When the house was taken possession of, there was a feast — 
the Iwose-heatin ovjire-kinlin. 

There was but one door ; and a few yards, or it might be a 
few feet only, in front of it lay the midden, in a deep hole half 
filled with water — the sewage of the kitchen and the farm buildings 
— green as grass — the green brees. The peat-newk, over which 
rested a goodly number of hens, faced the entrance door, and 
on either side of it was a door. One of these doors opened into 
the kitchen, and the other led to the remaining apartments of 
the house. 

The kitchen was open from floor to roof. The floor was 
earthen, and not verv level or smooth. The roof was as black 
as soot could make it. Between some of the couples were hung 
strong boards, on which were ranged hehbacks of various sizes 
and ages, and it might be a few dried cod or ling with a bag of 
home-grown mustard. From others of them were suspended 
bunches of onions, carefully wriipped-up bunches of hyssop, 
peppermint, wormwood, and other herbs famed as decoctions in 
sickness of man and beast, a bunch or two of the pith of the rush 
to serve as wicks for the lamp (the eely dolly) during winter, a 
bunch of stars or bruckles to redd the tobacco pipes, and at times 
a bundle or two of harrow-i^/nes to dry and harden. On others 
were laid a few pieces of bog-fir, from which to cut fir-candles. 

The fire-place was wholly open. The hearth was raised a few 
inches above the level of the floor, and the crook dangled over it 
from the rantle-tree. There was a niche or hole in the wall on 
each side of the hearth — the one containing a tobacco-pipe or 
two, a tobacco-box, a can'le-guUie, and perhaps a few books or 
pamphlets. In the other was a wooden box in the shape of a 
house, with a round hole in the exposed end ; it was the saat- 

On the one side-wall hung the bench, on which were ranged 
the plates and spoons and bowls, and under it stood the dresser, 

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with its row of cops and small cogs, and underneath the dresser 
were placed the pots and pans and pails, the milking-cogs and 
vessels for holding milk. By the other side-wall stood the settle 
or deis, with its table, fixed to the wall and folding down over it, 
in the centre. 

Opposite the fire-place, and forming frequently part of the 
partition between the kitchen and the adjoining apartment, stood 
a box-bed, or a box-bed and a cupboard, or it might be two box- 
beds; a kind of bed made of wood, closed in on three sides and top, 
and shut by a sliding or folding door, on the top of which was 
stowed away a variety of things, as boxes for holding nails, 
hammers, axes, pieces of old iron, shoes, &c., &c. 

Light was admitted by one, or at most two, small windows, 
often of four panes of glass only, and disclosed walls not too 
dazzling for the eyes by their pure white. At times there was 
no glass ; merely a board to stop the aperture. 

In one corner at the foundation was a hole. It was the dog- 
hole — an opening to allow the dog to come and go at pleasure. 
In another corner under the eaves was another hole. It was for 
the out-going and in-coming of the hens when the door was 

Leaving the kitchen, and opening the door observed on enter- 
ing, you found yourself in a long passage, or trance, and at the 
end of it was the room, or but ein. It contained a few chairs 
and a table, an eight-day clock, a chest of drawers, a looking- 
glass, and a bun breest, that is, a wooden bed, and a cupboard 
or two with panelled doors. The floor was earthen, the ceiling 
was wood, the walls were whitewashed ; there was no grate ; 
the window was somewhat larger than that of the kitchen. 
Doors opened from the trance into one or more smaller rooms, 
used as bed-rooms. 

There was little difference between the houses of the agricul- 
tural and the fishing folk and what they contained, except in the 
implements of their callings. Lines, hair for " tippens," hooks, 
fishhakes, in later times herring nets, buoys, and sometimes a 
boat sail, had their place in the fisherman's house. 

In some cases there was but one door for the cows and the 

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family, and before you could reach the kitchen you had to pass 
through part of the byre. 

On removing from one house to another it was accounted 
unlucky to get possession of a clean house. " Dirt's luck," says 
the proverb. If one, who was removing from a house, was 
jealous of the successor, and wished to carry off the good fortune 
of the house, the out-going tenant swept it clean on leaving it. 

There were two other methods of taking away the luck from 
a house. The one was for the tenant who was leaving to mount 
to the roof and pull up the crook through the lum, instead of 
removing it in the usual way by the door. 

The other was by trailing the raip. A rope of straw was 
twisted from left to right — the vrang wye — and pulled round the 
house contrary to the course of the sun. 

To avert all evil from those who were entering a house others 
had quitted, if there was suspicion that evil had been left on it, a 
cat was thrown into it before any of the new in-dwellers entered. 
If evil had been left on it, the cat in no long time sickened and 

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" Let not Ambition mock their useful toil, 
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure ; 
Nor Grandeur hoar with a disdainful smile 
The short and simple annals of the poor." 

N the hearth was piled a great fire of peat, which 

burned with a strong flame, filh'ng the kitchen with 

a genial warmth, and casting a ruddy glare on the 

roof and walls and motley furniture. Over the fire 

hung a large iron pot, heaped high with turnips and shillicks. 

It was the bait-pot, and its contents formed part of the food of 

the farm-horses. Beside the fire stood another pot, covered 

with a slab of stone. It was the lit-pot — that is, a pot used for 

the dyeing of wool, for the most part of a blue colour, and 

giving forth, when the wool was turned, a very strong smell of 


Light was given either by pieces of bog-fir laid on the fire, 

or hj Jir-can'les — that is, thin splinters of bog-fir, from one to 

two and a half or three feet long, fixed in a sort of candlestick, 

called the peer-man or peer-page. The peer-man was of various 

shapes. A common kind consisted of a small roundish block of 

stone, perforated with a hole in the centre, in -which was inserted 

a piece of wood about three feet in height, having on the top a 

cleft piece of iron, into which the candle was fixed with the 

flame towards the door. 

A third kind of lighting was by an iron oil-lamp, that bore 

the name of the eely dolli/. This lamp was formed of two parts, 

called shalls. Both parts were alike in shape and somewhat 

resembled certain species of bivalve shells, as the cow-shell, and 
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both had a long spout. Tiie parts fitted into each other, the one 
being a little smaller than the other. The under part had a 
handle fixed perpendicularly to the side opposite the spout, 
which was for affixing it to the wall or other convenient place. 
On the inner side of this perpendicular handle was a knob with 
notches, on which was hung the smaller shall, which contained 
the oil and the wick. The notches in the knob were for regu- 
lating the supply of the oil. The oil used was made from the 
livers of the haddock, cod, ling, and other fish caught on the 
coast, and was distinguished by the name of black oil. The 
wick consisted for the most part of the pith of the common 
insh—rashin wicks — and in later times of cotton thread. The 
lamp had no cover, and when dirty was usually cleaned by 

At the one corner of the hearth sat the father, and at the 
other the mother. Between the two sat the family, and it might 
be a servant or two, for all were on a footing of equality, the 
servant being a neighbour's son or daughter of exactly the same 
rank and means. All were busy. One of the women might be 
knitting, another making, and another mending, some article of 
dress. Of the men, one might be making candles from bog- 
fir — cleavin candles — another manufacturing harrow-tynes of 
wood, a third sewing brogues, and a fourth weaving with the 
check a pair of mittens. If there were children in the family at 
school, there was silence or but little conversation, for lessons 
were being prepared ; and every now and again the anxious 
learner handed the book to the mother or other member of the 
family, and repeated the lesson. If the lesson was not correctly 
repeated, the book was handed back with the injunction to be 
busy, and the learner resumed his work and continued his 
labour " till the lesson was thoroughly prepared. When the 
school-books were laid aside, the song and the ballad and the 
story began. The songs of Burns and other sweet singers of 
Scotland were varied with those of poets of less note, and with 
such ballads as " The Haughs of Cromdale," " The Duke o' 
Gordon's Three Daughters," " Sir James the Eose," " Gregor's 
Ghost," "Andrew Lammie." Many of the inferior songs were 

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of a questionable morality, and some of them were even obscene. 
Yet they were sung with a kind of natoeU and unconsciousness 
of their immorality that did away in a great measure with any 
demorahsing tendency they might otherwise have had. The 
songs of local poets also had their place. Frequently such took 
a satirical turn, a farmer famed as a hard taskmaster, who 
" keppit's fouck on mete meal an taul' puckles," being the 
victim. Some of them were in celebration of country balls, and 
to each couple of guests, "a lad and his lass," was devoted a 
stanza of four lines, in which both the foibles and the graces of 
the enamoured were hit oflF, and at times with truth and 
burlesque humour. 

The story was for the most of the supernatural — of fairies and 
their doings, of waterkelpie, of ghosts, of witches and their 
deeds, of compacts with the Devil, and what befell those who 
made such compacts, of men skilled in blaek airt, and the strange 
things they were able to do. Sometimes riddles formed the 
subject of amusement As tale succeeded tale, and the big peat 
fire began to fade, the younger members of the family crept 
nearer and nearer the older ones, and, after a little, seated them- 
selves on their knees, or between them and the fire, with the 
eyes now fearfoUy turned to the doors, and now to the chimney, 
and now to this comer, whence issued the smallest noise, and 
now to the next, in dread of seeing some of the uncanny brood. 

Sometimes the stories were of pirates, whom the young ima- 
gination painted as wild beasts of the sea, creating strange, 
undefinable feelings ; of oceans bound in eternal ice and dark- 
ness, with bright, shining lands beyond, with their lulls of gold 
and silver sparkling through the darkness, exciting vague long- 
ings to be away in seai'ch of wonders, notwithstanding all the 
dangers and terrors. 

Sometimes there were stories from history, oftenest of the 
wars between England and Scotland, but so disfigured as to be 
almost unrecognisable from the facts themselves. Other stories 
might be heard, such as " The Miller's Tale " of Chaucer, which 
were told without the least conception that there was any inde- 
cency in them. The stories of Greorge Buchanan and the English 

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Professor, and of the Professor of Signs from Spain on a visit 
at King's College, Aberdeen, were greatly in favour.* 

The family was not always alone. Civilities were interchanged 
by one or more neighbours spending the evening with them, 
or, in common language, by geein thim a forenicht. On such 
occasions it was no unusual thing for the young women to carry 
with them their spinning-wheels on their shoidders, and their 
wool or flax under their arms. Then might be seen three or 
four spinning-wheels going at once, skilful fingers busy at the 
stent, and each spinner vicing with the other who should first 
complete it, and not a foot was stirred till it was completed. 
One or two of the younger members of the family were engaged 
in twisting or reeling thread.f While the women were busy, the 
young men were not idle. If not employed in something useful, 
they were amusing themselves in such trials of strength as could 
be made indoors — as "drawing the sweer-tree," or in such 
games as the " tod and the lam's," the " glaicks," the " dams," 
or " dambrod." When the work was done, all sat down to a 
simple, wholesome supper, which was reverently prefaced by 
grace from the goodman. Then came the hearty good-night 
with the hearty invitation, " Haste ye back," and the cordial 
promise, "Aye, aye, but haste ye in aboot some forenicht." 
The young men accompanied the forenichters to their home, 
carrying their spinning-wheels, and whispering words of love. 

ISow and again there was a quarterer in the family. There 
was a class of respectable beggars, whose vocation was not looked 
upon iLS disreputable. Such commonly confined their wander- 
ings to a particular district of the country, and made their 
rounds with great regularity. Within that district there were 
certain houses at which they invariably lodged or quartered. 
Whether male or female, they were generally welcome guests, 
and were hospitably entertained. Their fund of general infor- 
mation, which was most readily imparted to all who would lend 
an ear, their ability to give the current news of the country, 
and often their knowledge of simples, which several of them 

* Cf. F. L. Record, vol.-ii. pp. 173—176; and vol. iii. pt. i. pp. 127—129. 
t Songs of the Russian, People, p. 32, by W. K. S. Ralston. 

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carried with them, and their skill in rubbing sprains and treat- 
ing bruises, burns, scalds, and such like, their proficiency at 
times in music, and their neat-handedness in repairing such 
domestic utensils as might be out of order, always opened for 
them a door. 

The chapman, with his pack of cloth, or cutlery, or books, 
was also a frequent guest, and by his fair speech usually con- 
trived to gain the goodwill of the females. A napkin, a dress, 
a pair of scissors, sold a few pence below the usual price, was 
ample payment for all the trouble he caused. 

It may not be out of place to notice here the occasional 
presence of a person of no small importance in the family — the 
tailor. The greater part of the ordinary clothing was spun at 
home and woven by a weaver in the neighbourhood. It was 
not given out to be made up. The tailor was summoned to the 
house, and great was the preparation for him. He was treated 
with more than ordinary respect, and on his arrival was installed 
in the room. The goodwife produced her webs, and gave her 
orders with many an injunction not to make many " clippans," 
and not to " brock the claith." The tailor handled the cloth know- 
ingly, and praised it ; and the goodwife looked pleased, and 
ceased to say one word about clippans or brocks. The tailor set 
to work, and plied his needle and thread early and late — some- 
times assisted by the females — till the webs had become Jiap- 
warms, fit to defend the coldest blast. Now the goodwife " is 
not afraid of the snow, for all her household are clothed with 
double garments." 

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HE belief in fairies was all but universal. Some 
imagined them to be fallen angels, whose sin was not 
so great as theirs who were cast into the bottomless 
pit. They were believed to dwell inside green sunny 
hillocks and knolls, beside a river, a stream, or a lake, or by the 
sea-braes, in gorgeous palaces furnished with everything that 
was bright and beautiful. They had wells, too, called "fairy 
wells." All that paid a visit to such wells left something in 
them — a pin, a button. Such wells seem to have been different 
from those having a curative power. 

The fairies were under the rule of a queen. Commonly they 
appeared to man as men and women of small stature, dressed in 

The name of fairy was not pleasing to them, and men spoke of 
them as "the fair folk," or "the gueede neebours." They 
were not ill-disposed towards men. Still ihej were inclined to 
be fi'olicsome towards them and to tease them, and there was 
need to guard against their frolic and trick. One sovereign 
guard against their power, in every form, was a stone arrow — 
" a fairy dairt " or " elf-shot " — which must be kept under lock 
and key. 

If a dwelling-house had unluckily been built on a spot inhabited 
by the fairies, its inmates were liable to much annoyance from 
them. In such a house, their favourite time of coming forth 
was in the gloamin, when the inmates were quietly seated round 
the blazing hearth, before the lamp was lighted for the evening's 
work. In that still hour, sometimes, if the spinning-wheel was 
not in use at the fireside, and the driving-band had not been 
taken off the wheel, the sound of it going fast and furious was 

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heard, and at other times, if one had peered round without the 
least noise, the eye caught the merry creatui-es frolicking on the 
floor, or over the furniture, peeping into this dish and into that, 
into this nook and into that. If the inmates had to leave the 
house and shut the door in the quiet gloamin for a time, " the 
fair folk " came forth in all their glee, and gave themselves to 
all kinds of noise-making. If the door was opened quickly and 
quietly they were seen scampering off in all directions — to the 
rafters, to the garret, up the " lum," and out by the door — 
whizz, whizz, quick as lightning. But their frolics were not 
confined to that particular hour. Some of them were always 
out, and no woman would have risen from her spinning-wheel 
and gone outside, if there was no one left in the house, without 
first taking the driving- band oiF the wheel, and no prudent 
woman would have left the band on the wheel over night. If 
the band had not been taken off, a fairy set to work and spun 
with might and main the whole night. Meal-mills had also to 
be thrown out of gear at night, else the fairies would have set 
them on, and kept them going during night. 

" The fair folk " were most covetous of new-born children 
and their mothers. Till the mothers were " sained " and 
churched, and the children were baptised, the most strict watch 
and ward had to be kept over them to keep them from being 
stolen. Every seven years they had to pay " the teind to hell," 
and to save them from paying this tribute with one of themselves 
they were ever on the alert to get hold of human infants. 

" There came a wind oot o' the north, 

A sharp wind and a snell ; 
And a dead sleep came over me, 

And f rae my horse I fell ; 
The Queen of Fairies she was there, 

And took me to hersel. 

" And never would I tire, Janet, 

In fairyland to dwell. 
But aye, at every seven years 

They pay the teind to hell ; 
And though the Queen macks much o' me 

I fear 'twill be mysel." 

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Sometimes they succeeded in carrying off an unbaptised 
infant, and for it tliey left one of their own. The one left by 
them soon began to " dwine," and to fret and cry night and 
day. At times the child has been saved from them as they were 
carrying it through the dog-liole.* 

A fisherwoman had a fine thriving baby. One day what 
looked like a beggar woman entered the house. She went to 
the cradle in which the baby was lying, and handled it under 
pretence of admiring it. From that day the child did nothing 
but fret and cry and waste away. This had gone on for some 
months, when one day a beggar man entered asking alms. As 
he was getting his alms his eye lighted upon the infant in the 
cradle. After looking on it for some time he said, " That's nae 
a bairn ; that's an image ; the bairn's been stoun." He imme- 
diately set to work to bring back the child. He heaped up a 
large fire on the hearth, and ordered a black hen to be brought 
to him. When the fire was blazing at its full strength, he took 
the hen and held her over the fire as near it as possible, so as 
not to kill her. The bird struggled for a little, then escaped 
from the man's grasp, and flew out by the " lum." The child 
was restored, and throve every day afterwards. 

Another. A strong healthy boy in the parish of Tyrie began 
to "dwine." The real baby had been stolen. A wise woman 
gave the means of bringing him back. His clothes were to be 
taken to a south-running well, washed, laid out to dry beside 
the well, and most carefully watched. This was done for some 
time, but no one came to take them away. The next thing to 
be done was to take the child himself and lay him between two 
furrows in a cornfield. This was carried out, and the child 
throve daily afterwards. All this was annoying to the "fair 
folk," and rather than submit to such annoyance they restored 
the child, and took back their own one. 

One day a fisherwoman with her baby was left a-bed alone, 
when in came a little man dressed in green. He proceeded at 
once to lay hold of the baby. The woman knew at once who 

* Cf. F. L. Beem-d, vol. i. p. 235. 

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the little man was and what he intended to do. She uttered ihe 
prayer, " God be atween you an me." Out rushed the fairy 
in a moment, and the woman and her baby were left without 
further molestation. 

Milk, particularly human milk, was very grateful to them. 
Therefore was it they were so anxioTis to carry off unsjuned 
and unchurched mothers. According to tradition, they did at 
times get hold of them. Here is one tradition. A mother 
was spirited away. In a short time, notwitlistanding all the 
kindness and attention lavished on her by the " fidr folk," 
her strength was almost exhausted. She pleaded to be allowed 
to return to earth, and pledged herself to give the best mare 
under milk that her husband had. Her request was granted, 
and the mare was led to the fairy hillock and left. The 
animal disappeared, and after a time returned, but so lean 
and weak that she was hardly able to sustain her own weight. 
Here is anotiier. A man in the parish of New Deer was re- 
turning home at night. On reaching an old quarry much over- 
grown with broom he heard a great noise coming from among 
the broom. He listened, and his ear caught the words " Mak' 
it red dieekit an red lippit like tiie smith o' Bonnykelly's wife." 
He knew at once what was going on, and what was to be done, 
and he ran with all his speed to the smith's house and " sained " 
the mother and her baby — an act which the nurse had neglected 
to do. No sooner was the saining finished than a heavy thud, 
as if something had fallen, was heard outside the hoiise opposite 
to tile spot where stood the bed on which the mother and her 
baby lay. On examination a piece of bog-fir was found hnng at 
the bottom of the wall. It was the " image " the fairies were to 
substitute for tiie smith's wife. 

Sometimes they conti'ived to induce, bv tiieir fau- and winninc 
ways, unwary men and women to go with them. When such 
entered their abodes, every kindness was showered upon them, 
and the most savoury food and tiie most delicious wines were 
set before them in tempting array. If fi^m what they saw tiiev 
had become aware among whom they were, and had tiie coui-aoe 
to refuse what was spread before them, they soon found them- 

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selves back among men. If they yielded, and tasted either the 
food or the drink, their doom was sealed for at least seven years. 
All idea of the flight of time was lost by them under the beauty 
of fairyland and the joy of life in it. When the fairy-thralls did 
at "last return to earth, they found their places filled by others, 
and the memory of them wellnigh dead. It was only after many 
explanations the remembrance of them returned to friends and 
acquaintances, and they themselves came to know how long they 
had dwelt in fairyland. Such as did return never again took 
kindly to the works and ways of their feUow-men. They loved 
the sunny braes, the glens and woods, that lay far from the 
abodes of men, the quiet spots of daisied sward by the burnie 
side, the lonely nook of greenery by the margin of the loch, and 
the green slopes and hollows by the seashore. With dreamy 
longing eyes, gazing out for something they could not reach, 
they pined away the rest of their days, beings apart. 

If a man or a woman did any one of them a kindness, the 
labour was not in vain. Gratitude for kindness done by man 
was one great trait of their character. Some article, whose use 
healed disease, was given, or virtue to cure disease or lessen pain 
was imparted, or success ever after attended the doer of the kind 

They were very often in the habit of borrowing from man. 
What they borrowed was given back most punctually. Meal 
was an article they often borrowed, and they always asked a 
fixed measure, a "hathisch-cogfull." If offered more, they would 
not take it. This borrowing was made usually in the gloamin, 
and by the females. In a parish on the east coast of Buchan, 
one wild night in winter, in the twilight, a little woman, dressed 
in green, went into a farm kitchen and begged for a " hathisch 
o' meal " from the gueedwife. The gueedwife told the beggar 
that she was somewhat afraid to give away so much, as the stock 
of meal was almost exhausted, and grain had only just been 
taken to the mill, and it would be some time before a new stock 
of meal could be laid in. Besides, the weather was stormy, and 
everything betokened a long snowstorm. It was said to last 
thirteen weeks. However the meal was given. Not many days 

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after the little woman returned in the twilight, and gave back 
the meal. At the same time she asked how much meal was in 
the girnal. On getting an answer that there was not much, she 
gave strict orders to gather into one corner what remained 
of it, add to it what she returned for the loan, and always keep 
it well packed together. She at the same time told that the 
snowstorm would last thirteen weeks. The storm came down, the 
roads were blocked, and no meal was got from the mill ; yet the 
meal in the corner of the girnal never grew less, notwithstanding 
the household had all through the thirteen weeks the usual supply. 

But if one put a slight upon them, or in any way incurred their 
displeasure, they were not slow in taking revenge, A cow or a 
horse, if the offender had one, was soon " shot-a-dead," or 
things began to take a wrong turn with the unfortunate, or, if a 
work was on hand, it did not go on with speed. It was misfor- 
tune on all sides. 

Even animals could call forth their anger ; and, when they did 
so, they had to pay the penalty. One evening, " atween the sin 
an the sky," a man was ploughing with his "twal-ousen plew," 
when a woman came to him, and offered him bread and cheese 
and ale. The man took the gift. Whilst he was enjoying his 
repast the good woman proceeded to give each of the oxen a 
piece of cakes. One by one the oxen took what was given, 
except the " wyner." After partaking of the woman's kindness, 
and she had left, the ploughman began his work again. All 
went on as usual till the plough reached the end of the furrow, 
when the " wyner," that had refused to take the piece of cakes 
from the hands of the stranger, fell down, and broke his neck, as 
he was turning into the next furrow. The stranger was a fairy. 

The "fair folk" were most skilled in music, and when 
mortals were stolen and taken to their abodes, or beguiled into 
them, one of the great enchantments and allurements to stay 
with them was their music. But that music was not confined 
to their own dwellings. Often and again has it been heard by 
human ears in the quiet of the gloamin, or at the still hour of 
midnight, in the clear moonlight, now on this green hillock, now 
below this bridge, and now in this calm nook. 

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The fairies took to fishing in little boats of their own. When 
fishing they wore their usual green, with little red caps for head- 
dress. They prosecuted their labour in the fine summer morn- 
ings and evenings, and many a time have the fishermen seen 
them busy as they were going to sea, and returning from it. 

If the sun shone during the time a shower of rain was falling, 
it was believed and said that the fairies weire baking their bread. 

When bread was baked in a fe&ily the cakes must not be 
counted. Fairies always ate cakes that had been counted ; they 
did not last the ordinary time. 

The whirlwind that raises the dust on roads is called " a furl 
o' fairies' ween." * 

* Cf. F. L. Biicord, vol. i. pp. 26—29, and 229— 2.S1, and Henderson, p. 277. 

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|ATERKELPIE was a creature that lived in the deep 
pools of rivers and streams. He had commonly 
the form of a black horse. He appeared at night, 
and often and often have travellers, in passing 
through fords or over old bridges, heard him go splash, splash, 
through the water. At times he approached the traveller, 
and by some means or other induced him to mount him. He 
rushed to his pool, and carried the unsuspecting victim to his 
death. At times he would come night after night to a farm- 
steading or a sheeling, and cause great fear and much annoyance. 
He might be caught, and when caught he could be made to 
do much heavy work. He who was to catch him had to watch 
for an opportunity of casting over his head a bridle, on which 
had been made the sign of the cross. When this was done the 
creature became quite quiet. He was commonly employed in 
carrying stones to build a mill or a farm-steading; and, when he 
was again set free, he took his leave, repeating the words — 

" Sehr back an sehr behns 
Cairrit a' 's stehns." 

He could be killed. A blacksmith had a small croft. He sent 
his wife, family, and cow to the sheeling during summer. When 
the blacksmith was employed in his work, waterkelpie took 
advantage of his absence, and paid frequent visits to the sheeling, 
much to the terror and annoyance of the family. At last the 
wife told the husband. He resolved to kill him. The wife took 
fright at the proposal, and tried to dissuade him, under the fear 
that kelpie would carry him off to his pool, but to no purpose. 
The smith prepared two long, sharp-pointed spits of iron and 
repaired to the sheeling. He put a large fire on the hearth, and 
laid the two spits in it. In a short time kelpie made his appear- 
ance as usual. The smith waited his opportunity; and with all 
his might drove the red-hot spits into the creature's sides. It 
fell a heap of starch, (ffl/gflaHifetJiitt^diliMt. 


A hardy Highlander was returning home on one occasion from 
a sacrament. He was on horseback. He had charge of a number 
of horses that were at pasture on the side of a lonely loch. The 
loch lay in his way home, and he would pass it, and see whether 
it was all well with the animals. He came upon them all in a 
huddle, and, to his astonishment, he saw in the midst of them 
what he thought was a grey horse that did not belong to the herd. 
He looked, and, in the twinkling of an eye, he saw an old man 
with long grey hair and a long grey beard. The horse he was 
riding on immediately started off, and for miles, over rocks and 
rough road, galloped at full speed till home was reached.* 

In many of the deep pools of the streams and rivers guardian- 
demons were believed to reside, and it was dangerous to bathe 
in them.t 

Sometimes, when a castle or mansion was being sacked, a 
faithful servant or two contrived to rescue the plate-chest, and 
to cast it into a deep pool in the nearest stream. On one 
occasion a diver was got to go to the bottom of such a pool to 
fetch up the plate of the neighbouring castle. He dived, saw 
the plate-chest, and was preparing to lift it, when the demon 
ordered him to go to the surface at once, and not to come back. 
At the same time the demon warned him that, if he did come 
back, he would forfeit his life. The diver obeyed. When he 
reached the bank he told what he had seen, and what he had 
heard. By dint of threats and promises of large reward, he 
dived again. In a moment or two afterwards his heart and 
lungs rose and floated on the surface of the water. They had 
been torn out by the demon of the pool. 

■It was the common opinion that some rivers and streams 
were more bloodthirsty than others, and, therefore, seized more 
victims than their milder companions. When an accident did 
happen, comparisons of course were drawn between the number 
that had been drowned in this and the next stream or river, and 
the stream or river was spoken of with a sort of awe, as if it 
were bloodthirsty and a living creature. 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 272, 273. 

t Songs of the Russian People, pp. 148, 151, 152. 

F 2 
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HERE was hardly a mansion in the country in which 
there was not a haiuited room. In one room a lady 
had been mui'dered and her body buried in a vault 
below it. Her spirit could find no rest till she had 
told who the murderer was, and pointed out where the body lay. 
In another, a baby-heir had its little life stifled by the hand of an 
assassin hired by the next heir after the baby. The estate was got, 
but the deed followed the villain beyond the grave, and his spirit 
could find no peace. Night after night the spirit had to return 
at the hour of midnight to the room in which the murder was 
committed, and in agony spend in it the hours till cock-crowing, 
when everything of the supernatural had to disappear. 

In the wall of another had an unjust relative, that the estate 
might become his own, concealed its title-deeds. But there was 
no rest for him in the other world till the title-deeds were given 
bad?, and the estate had returned to the rightful heir. Come he 
must to the room in whose wall the documents of the estate lay 

Generation after generation must those troubled spirits retmii 
to the scene of their life, and wait till some one was found bold 
enough to stay in the haunted room over night, and question the 
spirits what they wanted. 

Now and again one was found with heart enough to face the 
spirit. The haunted room was made ready. He, who was to 
do the daring deed, about nightfall entered the room, bearing 
with him a table, a chair, a candle, a compass, a crucifix, if one 
could be got, and a Bible. With the compass he cast a circle on 
the middle of the floor, large enough to hold the chair and the 
table. He placed within the circle the chair and the table, and 
on the table he laid the Bible and the crucifix beside the lighted 

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candle. If he had not a crucifix, then he drew the figure of a 
cross on the floor within the circle. When all this was done, he 
seated himself on the chair, opened the Bible, and waited for the 
coming of the spirit. Exactly at midnight the spirit came. 
Sometimes the door opened slowly, and there glided in noiselessly 
a lady sheeted in white with a face of woe, and told her story to 
the man on his asking her in the name of Grod what she wanted. 
What she wanted was done in the morning, and the spirit rested 
ever after. Sometimes the spirit rose from the floor, and some- 
times came forth from the wall. One there was who burst into 
the room with strong bound, danced wildly round the circle, and 
flourished a long whip round the man's head, but never dared 
to step within the circle. During a pause in his ■ frantic dance 
he was asked, in God's name, what he wanted. He ceased his 
dance, and told his wishes. His wishes were carried out, and 
the spirit was in peace. 

Excessive grief for a departed friend, combined with a want 
of resignation to the will of Providence, had the effect of keeping 
the spirit from rest in the other world. Rest could be obtained 
only by the spirit coming back and comforting the mourner by 
the assurance that it was in a state of blessedness. 

When a murder was committed and not discovered, often has 
the spirit of the murdered one continued to come back and 
torment the murderer till a confession of the crime was made, 
and justice satisfied. 

Sometimes the spirit itself was the executioner of vengeance. 
A man murdered his lady-love ; he escaped to sea. One stormy 
night a bright light was seen at a distance ; every eye was upon 
it. It came nearer and nearer. As it came nearer, it began to. 
assume a human form. Nearer yet, till it was close to the ship. 
It bore the look of a beautiful lady with sorrow and reproach on 
every feature. Among the crew 

" There was silence deep as death; 
And the boldest held his breath 
Tor a time." 

. A voice came from the lady calling one of the sailors by name. 
Well did he know that voice. It was a voice he once loved to 

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hear ; but now it struck terror into him, and he trembled in 
every hmb ; there was a spell on him. He must come forth, 
and over the bulwarks and down the ship's side ; the lady-ghost 
clasped him in her arms, and both disappeared in a " flash of 

The belief was that not only houses, but also that certain 
spots, woods, parts of public roads, bridges, and some chm'ch- 
yards were haunted by ghosts. In one spot candles have 
burned night after night. Across this part of a road what 
seemed a body of men marched in close array. Near this wood 
every night appeared a sheeted ghost. The chm'ch-bell in this 
churchyard has been heard ringing at midnight loud above the 
howl of the storm. Those who were aware of such haunted 
places, after nightfall made a long round-about to avoid passing 

* Cf . Henderson, chap, x., and F. L. Record, vol. i. pp. 20 — 23, and vol. ii. 
pp. 176, 177. 

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ilHE belief in witches was universal. The witch was 
usually an old woman, who lived in a lonely house 
by herself, and kept all her affairs very much to 
herself. Her power was derived from Satan, was 
very great, and ranged over almost everything. By various 
ways she could cause disease in man and beast ; raise storms to 
destroy crops, sink ships, and do other destructive work; 
steal cows' milk, and keep herself well supplied with milk 
and butter, though she had no cow. To do this last she was 
able te turn herself into a hare. At times, however, she used 
her power for the benefit of those who pleased her. She could 
cure diseases, discover stolen goods, and tell who the thief was. 
Such a woman was dreaded, and all her neighbours tried to live 
on good terms with her, bore from her what they would bear 
from no one else, and, if she asked a favour, would have granted 
it, however much it cost to do so. If one was unfortunate 
enough to fall out with her, something untoward was sure to 
happen to the offender, and that too in no long time after the 
quarrel. A horse died, or the cow's milk was taken away, or a 
calf began to dwine, or an arm or a leg was broken, or a hand 
was cut, or disease feU on the offender or on some member of 
the family. Sometimes the witch, instead of sending upon her 
enemy a single disaster, set herself to give all manner of petty 
annoyances, dogging him in all directions. 

Here is a tradition : — A man had incurred the illwill of a 
witch. He could not leave the house without being followed by 
his enemy. His life in a short time became a burden to him. 
He told his case to a reputed man of wisdom. He was advised 
to get a gun, load it with a crooked sixpence instead of a ball, 

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go out after sunset, when, of course, the witch would be after 
him. He was to use every artifice to conceal the gun, and to 
get his tormentor between him and the point of sunset. The 
moment he caught a glimpse of her by the last rays of the 
twilight, "atween 'im an the sky," he was to fire. The man 
did soj and he was left in peace ever after. 

The power of witchcraft was sometimes possessed by men. It 
was also inherent in certain families, and went down from 
generation to generation.* 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 180, &c., and F. L. Record, vol. i. pp. 23—26. 

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"black airt" and devil compacts. 

|LACK AIRT " was firmly believed in. If the pro- 
ficients in this science did not make a compact 
with Satan, they were very much in communion 
with him. He was regarded as the fountain from 
which it sprang. It was looked upon as a kind of wisdom by 
which men came to be able to know the hidden essence of 
things, the virtues of herbs for cure or poison, to have power 
over nature in many of her workings, power to cure disease, 
to guard against witches and fairies, to remove their spells, to 
discover thieves, and even to see into the future. Under the 
teaching they got some of the students reached a high degree of 
expertness, and became a match for the devil himself in cunning, 
and were even able to outwit him. 

Spain and Italy, particularly Italy, were the countries in 
which the science was most flourishing, and in which it was 
taught most efficiently, and thither all, who wished to become 
adepts in it, went. Its study was carried on in dark rooms 
under famous teachers; and, on leaving the class-rooms, the 
students had to pass through a long black passage at the end of 
which stood the prince of darkness watching to catch the last 
one. No sooner had the last word of the professor's lecture been 
spoken than out rushed the students, and made for the light pell- 
mell through the black passage shouting " Deel tack the hin- 
most ! " The devil, on one occasion, clutched at a student ; he 
met one who was more than a match for him. The student 
called out, " There is another behind me ! " His sable majesty 
looked first to this side, and tlien to that. He saw what seemed 
a man ; he rushed upon it and seized it. It was the student's 
shadow. Ever after the student was shadowless. 

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7-1 " black airt " and devil compacts. 

Devil Compacts. 

It was believed that many went further than the students of 
" Black Art," and actually made compacts with the devil. Such 
a compact was made at midnight in some lonely churchyard, or 
amid the ruins of some castle. Those who did so, were they 
men or women, became bound to give themselves up soul and body 
to Satan at the end of a certain number of years, on a fixed day 
and at a fixed hour, or at the time of their death. For this they 
received power to do almost everything man could conceive — to 
control the elements, to send disease on man or beast, to make 
crops unfruitful, to destroy them by wind or rain, to amass as 
much wealth as they wished to spend upon their evil passions — 
in short, to do what wicked work they set their minds to. A 
wild wanton life did such lead, often with the appearance of 
unbounded wealth and happiness far beyond the reach of most 
men. Their whole time seemed one round of success and joy. 

The time fixed by the contract might be prolonged, but, if the 
contract was not renewed, go they must at the hour appointed. 

A man had made such a contract. He had, to all appearance, 
lived a life of comfort and success. The time for him to go 
drew very near. When he began to think of his doom, hori'or 
took hold of him. He told his terrible secret to some of his 
friends. They did what they could to cheer him, and make him 
forget it. On the last night they met with him, and kept him 
surrounded, persuading him and themselves that, if it should 
come to the worst, they would be able to defend him. Hour 
after hour passed, and they began to think that the devil had 
forgotten. The appointed hour came. Next moment a knock 
was heard at the door. All eyes were turned to it. It opened, 
and in stalked the devil. There was no delay. He rushed upon 
his thrall,, and both disappeared in fire, leaving behind them 
nothing but smoke and stench. 

At times a few of like thought and manner of life joined 
together, and made a compact with the prince of darkness. They 
took the name of " The Hell-fire Club." They met at night 
among the ruins of some old castle, or in a vault of it, if such 

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was still entire. For hours they carried on their orgies, drink- 
ing, swearing, scofSng at the Bible, turning everything sacred 
into ridicule, and putting Grod Himself to defiance. To crown 
all, once a year in the darkness of the night, in their usual meet- 
ing-place, they partook of the Communion in the devil's name, 
and renewed their contract with him. Such men were noted 
for their drunken, debauched, reckless, defiant lives. It was 
said of them that most of them commonly came to an untimely 
end. This one was drowned ; the next one was thrown from a 
horse ; this other one in a fit of remorse put an end to his days 
by hanging himself; and another, by drowning himself. Such 
of them as did die a natm-al death were seized with some terrible 
disease, and, after the gi-eatest sufferings, passed away in agony 
of soul and body, cursing Grod and man with their last breath. 
Vengeance in some way or other overtook them all.* 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 279. 

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GREAT source of amusement among the folk was, 
and still is, at least among the young, a kind of 
riddles in rhyme. One characteristic of many of 
them is the horrible descriptions they contain, and 
these descriptions generally turn out to be something very inno- 
cent. The riddles have in most cases the appearance of being 
very old. 

" There wiz a man of Adam's race, 
Who had a certain dwelling-place. 
It was neither in earth, heaven, nor hell. 
Come, tell me where that man did dwell ?" 

" Jonah in the whale's belly." 

" Two brothers dear, 
Two sisters' sons are we, 
Our father's our grandfather. 
And whose sons are we ?" 

" Lot's." 

'• As I leukit our my father's castle wa', 
I saw a bunch o' waans. 

An nae ane can coont them but God's ain ban's?" 
" The hair of the head." 

" As I leukit our ma father's castle, 
I saw a bodie stanin; 
I took aff's head and drank's bleed. 
And left's body stanin ?" 
" A bottle." 

" It's lang an its roon, 
An its as black's coal, 
Wi' a lang and a plnmp hole ?'' 
" A bottle." 

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" As I geed our the Brig o' Dee 
I met Geordie Buchan; 
I took affi his head, an drank his bleed, 
An left his body stan'in ?" 

" A bottle of whisky." 

" An it's naither Peg, Meg, nor Margit 
Its my true love's name; 
An it's naither Peg, Meg, nor Margit, 
An thrice I've told her name ?" 

" As I went to Westminster school, 
I met a Westminster scholar, 
He pulled off his hat 
And drew off his gloves, 

And I have told you the name of the scholar ?" 
" Andrew." 

" There wiz a king met a king 

In a narrow lane, 

Said the king to the king, 
' Where hae ye been ? ' 
' I hae been where ye hae been, 

Huntin at the roe.' 
' Will ye lend me yir dog ? ' 
' Yes, I will do so. 

Call upon him, call upon him.' 
' What is his name ? ' 
' I have told you twice. 

And I will tell you again ?' " 
" Bean." 

" Caul kail, aul' kail, 
Nine days' aul' kail, 
Boilt in a pot, fried in a pan, 
Spell ye that wi' four letters if ye can ?" 
" That." 

" Aberdeen and Aberdour, 
Spell that in letters four ?" 
" That." 

' There was a man raid through this toon — 
Gray Thistle was his name ; 
His girth was gold, his bridle bold. 
And thrice I've told his name ?" 
" Was." 

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" It is in every mountain, 
It's not in any hill, 
It's not in all the world, 
And yet it's in the mill ?" 

" The letter m." 

" The minister an the sehoolmaister 
An maister Andrew Lamb 
Geed cot t' view the gairden 
Fair three pears hang, 
Ilky ane pu'd a pear 
An still twa hang ?" 

" The minister and the elder and lang John Lamb 
Geed a' till a pear tree 
Where three pears hang. 
And ilky ane pu'd a pear 
And still twa pears hang?" 

" John Lamb is both minister and elder." 

" Three hail cakes, 
Three half cakes. 
Three quarters o' anithei-, 
Atween the piper and his wife 
And the fiddler and his mither. 
Divide without breaking the cakes?" 

" The piper's wife is the fiddler's mother.'' 

" Ten teeth withoot a tongue, 
It is gueede sport t' aul' an young ; 
Take it oot o'ts yaUow fleece 
An kittle't on the belly piece ?" 

" A fiddle." 

" As I went to the school alone 
I found a little pennerie; 
'Twas painted oot, 'twas painted in, 
'Twas painted our wi' poverty: 
'T would kill a bull, 't would kill a bear, 
'T would kill a thousand men and mehr ?" 

" Hunger." 

" Humpity Dumpity sat on a wall, 
Humpity Dumpity got a great fall, 
The king wi' a' his men 
Cndna lift Humpity Dumpity again ? ' 
" An egg." 

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" I geed by a hoosie, 
An it wiz fou o' meht, 
But there wiz naither door nor window 
T' lat me in to eht ?" 

" An egg." 

" I think you live beneath a roof 
That is upheld by me; 
I think you seldom walk abroad, 
But my fair form you see; 
I close you in on every side, 
Your very dwelling pave, 
And probably I'll go with you 
At last into the grave ?" 


" There wiz a man bespoke a coat. 
When the maker it home did bring. 
The man who made it would not have it, 
The man who spoke for't cudna use it, 
And the man who wore it cudna tell 
Whether it suited him ill or well ?" 

" A coffin." 

" It's as roon as a mill-wheel. 
An luggit like a cat ; 
Though ye sud clatter a' day, 
Ye'd never clatter that ?" 
" A tub." 

" A countrie loon cam doon the toon 
Wi' three feet up and twa feet doon, 
Wi' the moo of the livin an the head o' the dead, 
Come tell me my riddle an I'll gee ye ma head ?" 
" A boy with a pot on his head." 

" Three feet eemist, cauld an deed, 
Twa feet nethmest, flesh an bleed ; 
The head o' the livin 
An the mou o' the deed ?" 

" A man with a metal pot on his head." 

" Pee pee pattie, ■'l! 

Three feet an a timmer hattie ?" 

" A pot with a wooden cover." 

" Father, mother, sister, brother, 
A' lies in ae bed, 
An diz na touch each other ?" 

" The bars of a grate." 

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" Lang legs, 
Short thighs, 
Little head, 
An no eyes f " 

« The tongs." 

" Chick, chick, cherry, 
A' the men in Kirry, 
Cudna clum chick, chick-cherry ?" 

" Smoke." 

" As I geed t' ma father's fehst 
I saw a great notorious hehst 
Wi' ten tails an forty feet. 
An aye the behst crape oot an eat?" 

" A ten-ousen pleugh." 

" Hairy oot, an hairy in. 
His the hair but wints the skin ?" 

" A hairy rope." 

" As 1 leukit our ma father's castle wa' 
A saw the dead carryin the livin awa ?" 
" A ship." 

" A riddle, a riddle, a rot tot tot, 
I met a man wi' a red, red coat, 
A stafE in han' an a stehn in's throat, 
Come, tell me my riddle an a'll gee yon a groat?" 
" A cheny." 

" It's as fite's milk. 
It's as saft's silk. 
It hiz a beard like a buck, 
An a tail cocking up ?" 

" An onion." 

" Hobbity-bobbity sits on this side o' the burn, 
Hobbity-bobbity sits on that side o' the burn. 
An gehn ye touch hobbity-bobbity, 
Hobbity-bobbity 'ill bite you ?" 

" A nettle." 

" Robbie-Stobbie on this side o' the dyke, 
Eobbie-Stobbie on that side o' the dyke, 
An gehn ye touch Eobbie-Stobbie, 
Eobbie-Stobbie 'ill bite ye ?" 

" A nettle." 

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" It's as white's milk 
An as black's coal, 
An it jnmps on the dyke 
Like a new shod foal?" 

" A magpie." 

" Reddicy roddichy rins on the dyke, 
Keep awa' yir clockin hen, 
I carena for yir tyke?" 

"A worm." 

" Lang man legless 
Cam till my door staffless, 
Hand awa' yir cocks an hens, 
Yir dogs an cats I fehr na?" 

" A worm.'' 

" It Bits high 
An cries sair, 
Hiz the head, 
Bit wints the hair?" 

" The town clock." 

" It's as roon's the meen 
An as dear's crystal, 
In ye dinna tell me ma riddle 
A'U shot ye wi' ma pistal?" 

"A watch." 

There wiz a thing of fonr weeks old 
When Adam was no more. 
And ere that thing was five months old 
Adam was fonr score?" 

" The moon." 

" Kte bird featherless. 
Flew oot o' Paradise, 
An lichtit on yon castle wa'. 
An Lord Lan'less 
Took it up han'less. 
An raid awa' horseless?" 

" A snowflake." 

" Bank-fou an brae-foUj 
Though ye gaither a' day. 
Ye winna gaither a stoup-fou?" 
" Mist." 

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" I sat wi' my love, 
I drank wi' my love, 
And my love she gave me licht; 
And I will give you a pint o' wine 
To read my riddle richt?" 

" A man murdered his lady lore." 

" Oot atween twa woods, and in atween twa waters?" 

" A woman going to fetch water in two wooden pails." 

" What is it that goes out black, and comes in white?" 
" A black cow on a snowy day." 

" Dee ye ken fuh Scatterty's cat winna eat salmon ?" 
" Because she canna get it." 

" At what season of the year are there most holes in the ground ?" 
" In autumn, when the crop is all cut." 

" Spell withered girss wi' three letters?" 
" Hay." 

" What is neither in the house, nor out of the house, and still is about the 
house ?" 

" A window." 

" What prophet was with Adam in Paradise and with Noah in the Ark ? — He 
does not believe in the Eesnrrection, but he does not deny a word of the Christian 
faith." " The cock." 

" What is it that gangs wi'ts hehd down ?" 

" A nail in a horse's shoe." 

" Where did Noah strike the first nail of the ark ?" 
" On the head." 

" Faht twa black things is't it lies at yonr bedside an gapes for your behns ?" 
" Your shoes." 

" Faht is't gangs our an our the water an never touches it ?" 
" Your shadow." 

" Would ye raither lie on a bed o' bibbles or a bed of scarlet ?" 
" The bed of scarlet means hell." 

" Eaht's the difference between a black doo an a fitan ?" 
" Fitan is the whiting, the fish." 

" How many toad's tails wid it need to gang t' the meen ?" 
" Ane, gehn it be lang eneuch." 

" Faht is't that grows wi' its head down ?" 
" An icicle." 

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" Your vessels, and your spells, provide. 
Your charms, and everything beside." 

EANS were frequently taken to find out who was to 
be the husband or wife. There were various modes 
of doing this. Some of the incantations could be 
performed at any time, whilst others could be gone 
through only on Hallowe'en. Here are two that could be per- 
formed at any time. 

The first time one slept on a strange bed a ring was put on 
the finger, one of the shoes was placed below the bed, the bed 
was entered backwards. The future husband or wife was seen 
in a dream. 

The maid who was desirous of seeing who was to be her 
husband had to read the third verse of the seventeenth chapter 
of the Book of Job afl;er supper, wash the supper dishes, and 
go to bed without the utterance of a single word, placing below 
her pillow the Bible, with a pin stuck through the verse she 
had read. The future husband was seen in a dream. 

The first time the note of the cuckoo was heard the hearer 
turned round three times on the left heel against the sun, 
searched in the hollow made by the heel, and in it a hair of the 
colour of the hair of the future husband or wife was found. 

To find out whether the lover would remain true and become 
the husband, three stalks of the Carl-doddie, or Ribwort (Plantago 
lanceolata), were taken when in bloom. They were stripped of 
their blossom, laid in the left shoe, which was placed under the 
pillow. If the lover was to become the husband, the three 
stalks were again in full bloom by morning. If the lover was 
to prove untrue, the stalks remained without blossom. 


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Of those that were performed on Hallowe'en, the following 
were most common : — 

Pulling the Castoc. — You went to the kail-yard, and with 
eyes blindfolded pulled the first stock of cabbage or greens 
touched. According to the quantity of earth that remained 
attached to the root and according to the form of the stock, 
whether well or ill-shapen, were augured the amount of worldly 
means and the comeliness of the future husband or wife. It 
was placed inside the door, and the baptismal name of the young 
man or young woman, who entered first after it was placed, 
was to be the baptismal name of the husband or wife, according 
as it was a young woman or a young man that had pulled and 
placed the castoc. 

Sowing Lint-seed. — When the shades of evening were falling, 
the maiden had to steal out quietly with a handful of lint-seed, 
and walk across the ridges of a field, sowing the seed, and re- 
peating the words : — 

" Lint-seed I saw ye, 
Lint-seed I saw ye; 
Lat him it's to be my lad 
Come aifter me, and pu' me." 

On looking over the left shoulder she saw the apparition of him 
who was to be her mate crossing the ridges, as it were, in the 
act of pulling flax.* 

Fathoming a Rick. — This incantation was performed by measur- 
ing or fathoming with the arms round a stack of oats or barley 
three times, against the sun. In going round the third time the 
apparition of the future husband or wife was clasped when the 
arms were stretched out for the last time. 

Win'ing the Blue-clue. — In this incantation the person had to 
go to the kiln secretly and in the gloamin, carrying a clue of 
blue worsted thread. This clue was cast into the kiln-logie. The 
end of the thread however was retained, and the performer 
unrolled the clue, forming a new one. Towards the end it was 
held tight. It was then demanded who held the thread. A 
voice answered, giving the name of the future husband or wife. 

* Cf. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 33 (107). 

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Winnowing Corn. — Go to the barn secretly ; open both doors, 
as if preparing to winnow corn. Take a sieve or a waicht, and 
three times go through the form of winnowing corn. The appa- 
rition of the future husband entered by the one door to the wind- 
ward, passed through the barn, and made his exit by the other 

Washing the 'Sleeve of the Shirt. — The maiden went to a south- 
running stream, or to a ford where the dead and the living 
crossed, and washed the sleeve of her shirt. She returned home, 
put on a large fire, and hung the shirt in fi'ont of it. She went 
to bed, and from it kept a careful watch. The apparition of him 
who was to be her partner in life came and turned the wet sleeve.* 

Boasting Peas, — A live coal was taken, and two peas (nuts were 
not always to be had) were placed upon it, the one to represent 
the lad and the other the lass. If the two rested on the coal and 
burned together, the young man and young woman (represented 
by the two peas) would become man and wife ; and from the 
length of time the peas burned and the brightness of the flame 
the length and happiness of the married life were augured. If 
one of the peas started off from the other, there would be no 
marriage, and through the fault of the one whom the pea, that 
started oif, represented. 

Eating an Apple in Front of a Looking-glass. — This incanta- 
tion had to be done in secret, like most of the others. An apple 
was taken and sliced off in front of a looking-glass. Each piece 
before being eaten was stuck on the point of the knife and held 
over the left shoulder of the performer, who kept looking into 
the glass and combing the hair. The spectre of the man who 
was to be her husband appeared behind her, stretching forth his 
hand to lay hold of the piece. 

By TJiree Caps or Wooden Basins. — Three wooden basins 
were placed in a line on the hearth ; one was filled with pure, 
another with dirty, water, and the third was left empty. The 
performer was blindfolded, and a wand or stick was put into her 
hand. She was led up to the caps, when she pointed towards 
one of them. This was done three times, the position of the caps 
» Of. F. L. Record, toI. i. p. 33 (108). 

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being changed each time. "The. best of three" decided her 
fate ; that is, choosing the same cap twice. The choice of the 
cap with the pure water indicated an honourable marriage ; the 
choice of that with the dirty water betokened marriage, but in 
dishonour. If the choice fell on the empty cap, a single life was 
to be the lot. 

The young women of Fraserburgh, in days"" a long time 
ago," anxious to find out about their lovers and marriage, used 
the following mode of divination on HaUoweven. They went 
to the village of Broadsea, which was hard by, and drew a straw 
from the thatch of one of the houses, the older the thatch so 
much the better. This straw was taken to a woman in Fraser- 
burgh who was famed for her wisdom. She broke it s and, if 
things were to move in the right way with the maiden in her 
love and marriage, she drew from the broken straw a hair of the 
same colour as the husband's-to-be. 

As for the number of the family, it was divined in the follow- 
ing fashion : — The inquirer into the future went to the stackyard, 
took a position beside a stack of oats, with the back turned 
towards it, and from over the head pulled a stalk of oats. The 
number of grains on the stalk represented the number of the 
family. If the stalk drawn from the stack by a female wanted 
the tap-pucMe, or top grain, she went to the marriage bed 

To gain love there were various methods. The roots of the 
orchis were dug up. The old root is exhausted, and when cast 
into water floats — this is hatred. The new root is heavy, and 
sinks when thrown into water — this is love, because nothing 
sinks deeper than love. The root — love — was dried, ground, 
and secretly administered as a potion ; strong love was the 

Two lozenges were taken, covered with perspiration and stuck 
together, and given in this form to the one whose love was 
sought. The eating of them excited strong affection. 

There was another method talked of, but it was of such a 

nature as that it must be passed over in silence. 

Unluckily for all these charms, the love gained by them was 
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dissipated by marriage, and the hatred of the one on whom the 
charm had been wrought became as strong as the love had 

When a live coal tumbles from the fire on the hearth towards 
one who is unmarried, it is regarded as a token that marriage is 
at hand. Hence the saying " Fire bodes marriage." 

When a young woman's apron-string or garter unloosed 
itself, she was at that time the subject of her lover's thought. 

If a girl mend her clothes on her back she will be forsaken by 
her lover. 

If a woman is forsaken by her lover, she has but to write out 
the CIX. Psalm, send the copy of it to him, and he wiU never 

When a young man and a young woman were seen in com- 
pany, those boys who had manners not very refined used to cry : — 

" Lad and lass 
Wi' the fite cockade, 
Mairrit in the coal-hole 
An kirkit i' the barn." 

Or, more shortly ; 

' Cockie doss, 
Lad and lass 
Mairrit in a coal-hole." 

The lore about colours was embodied in these words : — 

" Blue 
'S love true, 

'S love deen. 
'S forsaken.* 

Wooing was for the most part carried on under cover of 
night. At a late hour the young man set out for the abode of 
his lady-love. By the time he arrived aU the family had retired 
to rest. He tapped at the window. The happy maiden, 

" "Wha kens the meaning o' the same," 
was quickly at the door, undid the bar and admitted her lover. 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 35, and F. L. Beoord, vol. i. p. 12 {ii, 45). 
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If he could not be admitted by the door, the window was lifted, 
and he made his entrance by it. 

The marriage was commonly arranged between the two with- 
out the knowledge of the pai'ents. At times the mothers might 
be let into the secret, but it was only after all the arrangements 
were completed the subject was broken to the fathers. The 
marriage day was either Tuesday or Thursday, more rarely 
Saturday, during the increase of the moon, and any month 
except May.* It was, however, unlucky for two of a family to 
be married during the same year. 

In the interval between the final contract of marriage and its 
celebration the young woman was busy getting in order all her 
providan for her future home. One or more days were given to 
the thiggin of wool from her friends and neighbours. If she 
had been thrifty, her feather bed, bolster, and pillows, blankets, 
sheets, &o., had been for some time ready in anticipation of the 
coming event. On a day some weeks before the marriage the 
affianced, accompanied by the bride's mother or sister, went to 
a neighbouring village to buy the honnie things, that is, the 
bridal dress, &c., when it was the custom for the young man to 
present dresses to the mother and sisters of her who was to be 
his wife. Besides the providan already spoken of, the young 
woman brought a chest of drawers, or, if that was too costly, a 
kist. AU the providan was sent to the future home a few days 
before the marriage, and it was sent unlocked and unbound. To 
have sent it locked or bound would have entailed difficult travail. 

The guests were invited by the bride and bridegroom. The 
bride, commonly alone, sometimes, however, attended by her 
who was to do the office of " best maid," called on her friends, 
and gave them a personal invitation. She chose two young men 
to lead her to church. The bridegroom, sometimes alone, and 
sometimes accompanied by the young friend who was to stand 
as his " best man," gave personal invitations to his party, and 
at the same time asked two young women to lead him to church. 
The invitations were all given, and all the arrangements fully 
made, before the minister was invited. To have done otherwise 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 34. Usi nwiali, p. 196, De Gnbernatis. 

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would not have been lucky. A present of a hat was made to 
the minister by those in better circumstances. 

It was customary for each guest to make a present to the 
bride and bridegroom. It usually took the form of something 
required for the marriage feast, as a fowl, a few pounds of 
butter, a bottle of whisky, &o. The present was often reserved 
till the morning of the marriage- day, when there was a rivalry 
who should give hansel. 

Great preparations were made for the feast, and from the 
brewing of the bridal ale and the baking of the bridal bread 
omens were drawn. With respect to the ale, if the wort boiled 
up on the far-off side of the pot, it was accounted unlucky ; if in 
front, lucky. If it fermented strongly, or, as it was expressed, 
if it was strong on the barm, good fortune was augared. It 
was the same if the ale was strong when presented at the feast. 
In baking the cakes, great care was taken with the first cake 
lest it should be broken — a broken cake portending unhappiness. 

On the Saturday evening previous to the Sunday on which 
the proclamation of banns, called the heuchin niclit, was made, 
the bridegroom, if at all possible, presented himself at the house 
of the bride. A few friends were also present, and a small 
feast was given. Along with the bride's father, or brother, or 
it might be with a friend, the young man went to the Session- 
Clerk to give in the names for proclamation of banns, or, 
as it was called, to " lay doon the pawns." The banns were 
proclaimed three times, either on three, two, or one Sunday. 
For the young woman to have appeared in church on the Sunday 
on which the banns were published would have been the cause 
of troubles of many kinds during the married life. Between 
the Sunday on which the banns were pubhshed and the day of 
the marriage it was customary for the young friends of both 
bride and bridegroom on meeting them to " rub shoulders " 
with them, as if to catch the infection of marriage.* 

On the evening before the marriage there was the "feet- 
washing." A few of the bridegroom's most intimate friends 
assembled at his house, when a large tub was brought forward 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 35. 

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and nearly filled with water. The bridegroom was stripped of 
shoes and stockings, and his feet and legs were plunged in the 
water. One seized a besom, and began to rub them lustily, while 
another was busy besmearing them with soot or shoe-blacking, and 
a third was practising some other vagary.* Such a meeting could 
not take place without the board of hospitality being spread. 

The state of the weather on the marriage day was watched 
most narrowly, and omens were drawn from it. There might 
be heard on all sides such expressions as " He's gloomin gey 
sehr on ir," if the day was gloomy ; " He's blinkin fell cantie 
on ir," if the day was alternately bright and cloudy; or, "She's 
greetin unco sehr," if the day was rainy, although a shower of 
rain was propitious : — 

" Happy's the corps, an happy's the bride 
It gits a shoor i' thir side." 

A bright sunny day indicated as much happiness as can fall to 

the lot of man in time : — 

" Happy's the bride the sin shines on, 
Happy's the corps the rain falls on."f 

The bride was usually dressed by her maid, and every article 
of dress must be new. The bridal dress could on no account be 
fitted on. When it came to be put on, if it did not fit, it could 
not be cut or altered, but adjusted the best way possible. If the 
marriage shoes were too little, evils of many kinds were fore- 
boded. Something borrowed must be worn. A ring was 
accounted of most virtue. 

If it was a younger sister that was married, she had to give 
her elder sister green garters. 

The guests arrived at an early hour, those invited by the bride 
at her home, and those invited by the bridegroom at his. Break- 
fast was served up, and consisted of two courses, oatmeal por- 
ridge made with milk, well overlaid with sugar, and curds and 
cream. In later times a tea-breakfast was served. After break- 
fast it was no unusual thing for all to join in dancing till the 
hour of going to chm'ch came. 

* Usi nuziali, pp. 121 and following, De Gnbematis. 
t Cf . Henderson, p. 34. 

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^wo men, called the sens, were despatched from the house of 
he bridegroom to demand the bride. On making their appear- 
ance a volley of fire-arms met them.* When thev came up to 
the door of the bride's home they asked, 

" Does bide here ? " 

" Aye, faht de ye wint wee ir ? " 

" We wint ir for ," was the answer. 

" Bit ye winna get ir." 

" But we'll tack ir." 

" Will ye come in, an taste a moofu o' a dram till we see 
aboot it ? " 

And so the sens entered the house, and got possession of the bride. 

Both parties arranged their departure from their respective 
homes in such a way as to arrive at church about the same time 
— the bride's party always having the preference. The bride, 
supported by the two young men formerly chosen by herself, 
w^alked at the head of her party, and when she set out she was 
on no account to look back. Such an action entailed disaster of 
the worst kind during the married life. The bridegroom, sup- 
ported by two young maidens, walked at the head of his party. 
On leaving, a few old shoes and besoms or scrubbers were 
thrown after both bride and bridegroom. In each party there 
was one that carried a bottle of whisky and a glass, and there 
was another that carried bread and cheese. The person first 
met received a glass, with bread and cheese, and then turned 
and walked a short distance. Great attention was paid to the 
first jit. A man on horseback, or a horse drawing a cart, after 
the introduction of carts, was deemed most lucky. Each party 
was accompanied by pipers, and a constant firing of guns and 
pistols was kept up. 

The church door had been opened by the beadle or bellman, 

who was in attendance to lead the bridegroom to the brids-steel — 

that is, the pew that was set apart for the use of those who were 

to be married. The bride was now led forth and placed beside 

him, and great care was used to have her placed at the proper 

* Ralston's Songs of the Russian People, pp. 284, 285. Tfsi -nmuali, pp. 131, 
132, De Gubernatis. Cf. Henderson, p. 38. 

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side. To have placed her improperly would have been unlucky 
in the extreme. Next to the bride stood her " best maid." 
This ofBce, though accounted an honour, was not unattended 
with risk. If the bride was enceinte, the maid would within a 
year fall into the same disgrace. Three times a bridesmaid was 
the inevitable prelude of remaining unmarried. Next to the 
bridegroom stood the " best young man." On no account could 
the bride and bridegroom meet on the marriage day till they met 
on the bride-stool. Such a meeting would have been followed by 
some calamity or series of calamities. After the celebration of 
the marriage the minister frequently kissed the bride.* In cer- 
tain districts, the bride pinned a marriage favour to the minister's 
right arm. The two received the congratulations of all present. 

The bridegroom paid the beadle his fee, usually a sixpence. 
It was no unusual thing for one of the party to go round the 
guests, and make a collection for him, in addition to his fee, 
when each contributed a half-penny or a penny. 

The procession was again formed, led by the bride, supported 
by the two sens. Then followed the bridegroom, supported by the 
bride's two best maidens ; and with music and the firing of guns 
and pistols the two parties, now united, marched along the 
ordinary road to the home of the bridegroom. On no account 
was it lawful to take any bye-roads, however much shorter they 
might be, either in going to church or in returning from it. 
Bread and cheese and a dram were given as before to the first Jit 
on the homeward journey. On coming near the house a few of 
the swiftest runners of the unmarried set out "to win the kail," 
and he or she who did so was the first of the party to be married.f 

When the bride arrived, she was welcomed by the bridegroom's 
mother, if alive. If she was dead, the welcome was given by 
one of the bridegroom's nearest relatives. When passing over 
the threshold there was held over the bride's head a sieve con- 
taining bread and cheese, which were distributed among the 
guests. They were sometimes scattered around her, when there 
was a rush made by the young folks to secure a piece. At times 
an oatmeal cake was broken over her head. In later times a 
' Cf. Henderson, p. 39. t •^*"^. PP- 37, 41. 

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thin cake of " short-bread," called the bride-cake, was substi- 
tuted for the oatmeal cake. It was distributed among the guests, 
who carefully preserved it, particularly the unmarried, who placed 
it below their pillows to "dream on,"* In some districts, when 
the sieve was in the act of being placed over her head, or the 
bread broken, it was the bridegroom's duty to snatch her from 
below it. She was led straight to the hearth, and into her hands 
was put the tongs, with which she made up the fire. The besom 
was at times substituted for the tongs, when she swept the hearth. 
The crook was then swung three times round her head, in the 
name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and with the prayer, 
" May the Almichty mack this umman a gueede wife." The 
last act of her installation as " gueedwife " was leading her to 
the gimal, or mehl-bowie, and pressing her hand into the meal 
as far as possible. This last action, it was believed, secured in 
all time coming abundance of the staff of life in the household. 

Li some of the villages it was usually the custom for children 
to assemble round the door, and demand ha-siller, when a few 
coppers were given them. Pieces, however, were ordinarily 

A good many beggars commonly gathered together, and they 
were regaled most plentifully, and, if any of them had a hanker- 
ing after punch or whisky, it was not spared. 

Now followed the feast, which was laid out in the barn when 

the marriage was at a farm or croft, or in any other dwelling 

large enough and reasonably suitable. In villages the guests 

were at times divided into parties, and the feast was spread in 

several houses. The feast was at times paid for by each guest, 

and when such was done it was called a " penny wedding," or 

" penny bridal." Such feasts gave rise at times to a good deal 

of excess, and the great authority in the parish — the Kirk- session 

— enacted laws for their suppression. Thus in 1708 : — 

" The session [of Cullen] considering that many abuses are committed at 
penny weddings by a confluence of idle people that gather themselves mainly to 
hear the musick did and do hereby enact that whoever afterwards shall have 
pypers att their wedding, shall forfeit their pauns and that they should not meet 
in a change hous the Sunday after their marriage under the same pain." 

* Cf . Henderson, p. 36. Songs of the Russian People, p. 280. 
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The Presbytery also enacted laws for the prevention of excesses 

"At Dumbennand, August 25th, 1631.— In respect of the many abuses and 
disorders that falls out at penny brydals, special! of plays and drnnkennes, it is 
ordained that no persone heirefter sail be maryed wines thai consigne pands that 
thai be no abuse at theair brydall, Tnder paine of tenne pund." * 

All the tables belonging to the household were called into use, 
and a few might be borrowed. If these were not sufficient, deals 
were placed on barrels, or mason's trestles, or boxes. The seats 
consisted of deals laid on chairs, or the old naves of cart-wheels, 
or, in corners, on two bags of corn or here laid on their sides, 
one above the other. The dishes and spoons were very varied, 
for they had been gathered in for the occasion from friends. 
The bride got the seat of honour, the head of the table ; and the 
guests arranged themselves according to their fancy. Those, 
however, who were accounted more honourable, were placed 
nearest the bride. The bridegroom did not take his seat at table. 
His charge was to serve and to look after the comfort of all the 

The feast was abundant. First came a course of milk-broth, 
made of barley; barley-broth made from beef, or mutton, or 
fowls, formed the second course. The third course consisted of 
rounds of beef, legs of mutton, and fowls by the dozen. Last 
of all came puddings, cooked in every variety of dish, and eaten 
from saucers, and swimming in cream. Home-brewed ale 
flowed in abundance from first to last of the feast. When the 
tables were cleared, big bottles full of whisky were brought in, 
along with punchbowls, each holding a punch-ladle made of 
wood, and placed before patriarchs renowned for their skill in 
making punch. With a firm hand each laid hold of a bottle, 
and poured into his bowl for a time. He then looked at the 
quantity in the bowl, and to make sure of the quantity he held 
up the bottle before him, and measured with the eye what he 
had poured in. Then he slowly added the sugar, scanning care- 
fully what he cast in. The water was poured boiling over the 

* Extracts from the Presbytery Book of Strathhogie, p. 4. Spalding Club. 
Aberdeen; a.d. 1843. 

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whisky and sugar. The mixture was stirred till the sugar was 
melted. He then took a glass and poured a little of the mixture 
into it, and tasted it with a knowing smack of the tongue. The 
glass was handed to another connoisseur of the delicious beverage. 
It was pronounced good. All the glasses were filled and handed 
round. The health of the bride and bridegroom was proposed. 
The glasses were drunk off at once, and the toast received with 
" a' the honours three." Round after round was drunk, each to a 
toast or sentiment, and the glass emptied at each ; bowl after bowl 
was made till the hour for dancing came. The tables, with their 
contents, were moved away, and the seats were ranged round the 
wall, so that the whole area of the barn was left clear for dancing. 

The dancing was begun by the shaimit reel. This dance was 
performed by the bride, the bride's maidens, the bridegroom, 
and the best young men. The music to which it was danced 
was called the shaim-spring, and the bride had the privilege of 
choosing the music. The male dancers then paid the musician 
his fee. Another dance was performed by the same six, after 
which the floor was open. In some districts the shaimit-reel 
was danced by the bride and her best maid, with the two sews as 
partners. After it was danced the bride fixed a marriage favour 
on the right arm of her partner in the dance, and the best maid 
fixed one on the left arm of her partner. The two sens then paid 
the fiddler. Frequently the bride and her maid asked if there 
were other young men who wished to win favours. Two jumped 
to the floor, danced with the bride and her maid, and earned 
the honour on the left arm. Dancing was carried on far into 
the morning with the utmost vigour, each dance being begun 
and ended by the partners saluting each other.* 

At intervals the dancing ceased, and all seated themselves, 
when bread and cheese and home-brewed ale and punch reeking 
hot were served round. Punch flowed most freely during the 
whole night, and, to keep up the supply of it, a few old men 
established themselves commonly in the best room, or hut ein, 
and, if the party was large, the firlot was substituted for punch- 
bowls, and there the patriarchs sat and brewed and pledged each 
* Usi nuziali, chap, xviii. p. 170, De Gubernatus. 

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other's health, and with grasped hands again and again swore 
eternal friendship, and dealt out the inspiriting beverage in 
large decanters to young women, who carried it to the barn to 
the dancers, and who, every time they returned empty-handed, 
reported the progress of the mirth. The old men would go and 
satisfy themselves that the young folk were behaving in a manner 
worthy of the occasion and their fathers. Under the influence 
of punch and music and example they forgot their years, and 
were back again to the days of youth. Each jumped to the 
floor with a young maiden in her teens, and saluted her with a 
kiss that made the kaibbers of the barn echo. "When all were 
ready, they shouted to the fiddler to play up, and away they 
sprang as if they were but " sweet ane and twenty," snapped 
the fingers, and hooched 

" Till reef an' rafters a' did dirll." 

The time for separating came. It was in vain the bride 
retired in secret. No sooner was she missed than there was a 
rush to the bridal chamber, which was burst open and filled in 
an instant to perform the ceremony of beddan. After the bride 
was in bed a bottle of whisky, with a quantity of bread and 
cheese, was handed to her. She gave each a " dram " and a 
piece of the bread and cheese. One of her stockings was then 
given her, and it she threw over her left shoulder amongst the 
onlookers. Strong and long was the contest for it, as the one 
who remained possessor of it was the first of that company who 
would be married. The guests then retired. 

The one who fell asleep first was the first to die. " My ane's 
awa noo," an aged woman was heard to say not long ago, with 
the teai's in her eyes, " an a myne weel he fell asleep first. A 

speert at (another widow) gehn she mynt filk o' them fell 

asleep first, bit she said she didna myne."* In other places it 
was augured that the one who awoke first was tlie first to depart. 

If the husband arose before the wife, he carried the pains and 
sorrows of child-bearing. 

The hirkin was usually attended bv a considerable company ; 
but time reduced the company to the bride's maids aiid the best 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 42. 

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j'oung man. The party never under any consideration took a 
bye-path to church, however much shorter or more convenient 
it might be than the ordinary "kirk road," nor did they enter 
church till the service was well begun ; to have done otherwise 
would have entailed misfortune. If two bridal parties were in 
church at once, it was an endeavour which should get out first, 
as the one that left last did not enjoy success and happiness. 
The party was entertained to a feast by the newly-married pair. 
Such feasts were at times held in " change houses," when a 
good deal of drinking was carried on, much to the scandal of 
decent folk. Kirk-sessions at times stepped forward to put a 
stop to such practices. Thus in Cullen : — 

(1786.) " It was observed by some members of session that a practice prevailed 
in the parish of people's meeting together in the pnblick-houses npon the Lord's 
Day for what they called kirking feasts, where they sat and drank and gave 
offence to their Christian neighbours." 

Early marriage rules among the fishing population. — Their 
occupation calls for this. Much of its work, such as the gather- 
ing of the bait, the preparing of it, the baiting of the fishing- 
lines, the cleaning and curing of the fish, and the seUing of them, 
is done by women. 

The mode of bringing about and arranging the marriage is 
not uniform. Here is one mode. When a young man wishes to 
marry, his father is told. The father goes to the parents of the 
young maiden on whom his son has fixed his fancy, gives a, 
detail of what he is worth as to his worldly gear, and recounts 
all his good qualities. If the ofier is accepted, a night is fixed, 
when the two meet along with their friends, and the final 
arrangement is made. This meeting goes by the name of the 
heukin nicht, or the nicht o' the greeance. 

On an evening shortly before the marriage day, or on the 
evening before the marriage, the bride and bridegroom set 
out in company, often hand in hand, to invite the guests. 
The bridegroom carries a piece of chalk, and, if he finds the 
door of any of his fi-iends' houses shut, he makes a cross on it 
with his chalk. This mark is understood as an invitation to the 
marriage. A common form of words in giving the invitation 


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is: "Ye ken faht's adee the morn at twal o'clock. Come our, 
an fess a' yir oose wi ye," or, " Come ane, come athegeethir." * 
The number of guests is usually large, ranging from forty to a 
hundred or a hundred and twenty. 

On the morning of the mai'riage day, the bride, after being 
decked in bridal array, goes the round of her own friends in 
company with her " best maid," and repeats her invitation to 
such as she wishes to be of her party. The bridegroom, accom- 
panied by his "best man," does the same, and repeats his invita- 
tion to those he wishes to be of his party. 

If the bride and bridegroom are of the same village, and if 
the church is within convenient distance, the marriage ceremony 
takes place in it. The bride with her party heads the procession 
to and from the church. If the church is at too great a distance, 
and if there is a sehcolhouse or a public hall in the village, the 
ceremony takes place in it. It is, however, often performed in 
the house of the bride's father. During the time the guests are 
absent, the feast is spread, and by the time they return every- 
thing is ready. 

If the bride and bridegroom live in different villages, the two 
companies commonly meet in some convenient house between 
the two villages, and in it the marriage rite is performed. The 
bride and her company continue their journey to the house of 
the bridegroom's father, or to the bridegroom's house, where 
the marriage feast is spread. In days gone by, in some of the 
villages, the bride put a sixpence or a shilling into her stocking 
or her shoe. Before entering church or the house 'in which the 
marriage rite was to be celebrated the " best man " that led the 
bride had to put down the heel of her shoe. 

It was not an unusual thing for the bridegroom, on entering 
the house in which he was to be married, to put down the heel 
of his shoe. 

In one, if not more, of the villages, when the marriage takes 
place at the home of the bride, after the rite is concluded, the 
whole of the marriage party makes the circuit of the village. 

* Vsi nuziali, p. 119. De Gnbernatis. 
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The bride is married in full travelling attire, and all the women 
present are in the same costume. Special notice is taken of the 
first fit, and the success of the future life is divined from it. A 
man with a white horse is deemed most propitious. 

When a sailor is married, immediately on the conclusion of 
the rite, the two youngest sailor-apprentices in the harbom* at 
the time march into the room carrying the Union Jack. The 
bride is completely wrapped in it along with the youngest 
apprentice^ who has the privilege of kissing her under the flag. 

When the bride is entering her future home, two of her 
female friends meet her at the door, the one bearing a towel or 
napkin, and the other a dish filled with various kinds of bread. 
The towel or napkin is spread over her head, and the bread is 
then poured over her. It is gathered up by the children who 
have collected round the door. In former times the bride was 
then led up to the hearth, and, after the fire had been scattered, 
the tongs was put into her hand, and she made it up. 

It is usual, at least-among the weU-to-do fishermen, for the 
bride to bring to her new home a chest of drawers, a hist, a 
feather bed, four pairs of white blankets, two pairs of barred, 
two bolsters, four pillows, sheets, one dozen towels, a table-cloth, 
all the hardware, cogs, tubs, and a sheelin coug. 

The young maiden begins commonly at an early age to collect 
feathers for her bed and pillows, and her admirers or her 
afiianced lend help by shooting wildfowl for her. Out of her 
first earnings is bought a Tcist, and she goes on adding one thing 
to another till her providan is complete. 

The husband's part is to provide the chairs, tables, &c., and 
all the fishing gear. 

The bride's plinisan is taken home with as much show as 
possible, and in some villages always much after the same 
fashion. There are two carts, however poor it is. In the one 
cart are placed, and in the following order, the chest of drawers, 
over it the bed, over it the blankets, and on the top of all the 
bolsters and pillows. In the other cart are carried the hist, tubs, 
&c. The carts are followed by a train of women, each carrying 
something that cannot be put on the carts without the danger 

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of being broken, as a looking-glass, a picture, a chimney orna- 

In Crovie, in Banffshire, the marriage very often takes place 
on Saturday. During the week of the marriage the bridegroom 
does not go to sea. The bride's pUnisan is taken home on 
Thursday. It is counted unlucky to take it home on Friday. 
In one case the carter who was to take the pUnisan from 
Gardenston to Crovie could not do so on Thursday, but on 
Friday. Such a thing could not be allowed, and after nightfall 
it was put into a boat and taken across the bay. One part of it 
is always a stool. 

The bridegi'oom is not allowed to enter the house during the 
time of the feast. His turn is after all the guests have been 

In Rosehearty marriages were commonly held on Thursday, 
and the bride's pUnisan was taken home on Wednesday. The 
bed was made up on that day, and on that night the bride- 
groom and his two best men slept on it. The bridal bed was 
made up by a young maiden — the bride's sister, if she had one ; 
if not, by her nearest-of-kin. Sometimes a sixpence was nailed 
to the back of the bun bed. 

In Gardenston the bridal bed was made up by a woman giving 
suck, "having milk in her breasts," under the belief that if any 
other woman did so there would be no family. In Gardenston 
at the beddan the room was fiUed with the unmarried. The 
bride went to bed first. The bridegroom drew off his stocking 
and threw it among the bystanders. The one who caught it 
would be the next to enter the married state. 

In Boddam the bride returned to her father's house, and 
passed the night there, and next day went back to her own 

Kind friends commonly make presents. In one village, the 
day after the marriage, the wives or mothers of those who sail 
in the boat with the bridegroom present themselves, each with 
a basin filled with oatmeal. 

Usi miziali, pp. 113—115. De Gubernatis, 
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In others of the villages, when the bride is taken to another 
village, her female friends and well-wishers make their appear- 
ance at her home on the day after the marriage, carrying their 
creels, which contain the little gifts they are to present. These 
gifts consist of dried fish, meal, pieces of stoneware, — whatever 
is needed for household use. The bride entertains them to tea, 
and tradition has it, at times, to a cup more cheering than tea, 
and that the wives, before separating, have taken to the green 
to dance when music could be got. 

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[I HE name of Thomas the Rhymer even yet is well- 
known in the North, and his sayings are spoken of 
with much deference by many of the old folks. 
These sayings have now lost their virtue. They 
were to stand true 'only till " the saut cam abeen the mehl," 
that is, till the price of salt exceeded that of meal. This was 
the case at the time a heavy tax was levied on salt. So high 
was the price of salt that the poor could not afford it; and 
those living on the sea-coast were in the habit of using sea-water 
in the boiling of potatoes, and such other articles of food. Hence 
the proverb, " to set one up wi' saut." 

Many of the rhymes on places are attributed to Thomas the 

Aikeybrae is a small hill in the parish of Deer. On it there 
was, at no very distant period, a number of stones, which bore 
the name of Cummin's Craigs, near which one of the Cumyns, 
Earl of Buchan, was, according to tradition, thrown from his 
horse, and killed. He called Thomas the Rhymer Thomas the 
Liar. Thomas, upon this, uttered the doom of his slanderer in 
the following words : — 

" Tho' Thomas the Lyar thou callest me, 
A sooth tale I shall tell to thee: 
By Aikey-side 
Thy horse shall ride, 
He shall stumble, and thou shalt fa' ; 
Thy neck-bone shall brack in twa, 
And dogs shall thy banes gnaw, 
And, maugre all thy kin and thee, 
Thy own belt thy heir shall be." 

The site of the stones is now believed to be occupied by a 

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The following is the tradition about the lands of Auchmeddeu 
in Aberdour. Thomas the Rhymex''s prediction was that — 

" As long's there's an eagle in Pennan, 
There will be a Baird in Auchtoedden.'' 

For long a pair of eagles built their nest in the cliffs near the 
village of Pennan, and the Bairds protected them with the 
greatest care, and fed them by placing daily on a ledge of rock 
near their eirie a quantity of food. William Baird joined Prince 
Charlie, and was an officer of his bodyguard at CuUoden. He 
continued in hiding for some years, and afterwards took up his 
abode at Echt House, where he died in 1777. Auchmedden 
was not confiscated, but Mr. Baird was obliged to sell it in 1750 
to relieve himself of the debt he had contracted to support the 
cause of the Stuarts ; it was bought by the Earl of Aberdeen. 
At that time the eagles left their home. Lord Haddo, eldest son 
of the Earl of Aberdeen, married Christian Baird of Newbyth. 
The eagles returned, and continued to build their nest till the 
estate passed from the Aberdeen family to the Honourable Wil- 
liam Gordon. Again the birds disappeared. When the estate 
came into the hands of Epbert Baird, about the year 1855, one 
eagle took up its abode in the Pennan Eocks, but it soon after 

" The water o' Awn (Avon) rins sae clear, 
It wud deceive a man o' a hundred year." 

The river Avon flows in a strong stream, clear as crystal, from 
Loch Avon, a lonely loch hemmed in by Cairngorm, Ben Mac- 
dhui, and Benamain, in the top of Banffshire. It flows past 
Inchrory, Tomintoul, and falls into the Spey. During its whole 
course it is remarkable for the clearness of its water. Many 
cases of drowning are said to have happened arising from the 
ignorance of those who attempted to ford it at places where the 
water is much deeper than it looks, owing to its cleai'ness. 

Banff forms the subject of various proverbs. One in use in 
the North is :— 

« Gang t' Banff 
An buff ben-leather.'' 

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Another is : — 

" Gang t' Banff 
An bottle skate." 

The one in use in the West of Scotland is : — 
" Gang t' Banff and bettle [or bittle] beans." 

In Lothian the saying is : — 

'' Gang t' Banff and bind bickers." 

" Gae to Banff 
An buy bend-leather." 

" Banff it is a boroughs toon, 
A kirk withoot a steeple, 
A midden o' dirt at ilky door, 
A very unceevil people." 

Whatever may have been the truth of this saying at one time, 

it has lost its sting now. Its church has a handsome steeple. 

The town is a model of cleanness. Another version puts the 

assertion in the last line in another light, and in the true 

light :— 

" Banff it is a boroughs toon, 
A kirk withoot a steeple, 
A bonnie Ieiss at ilky door. 
And fine ceevil people." 

" Gang t' Birse 
An bottle skate." 

In parts of Banffshire this is spoken to one who is importunate 
in asking, to get rid of him. 

" Boyne fouck; Buchan bodies; 
Strila lairds; barfit ladies." 

This saying, no doubt, has come from the Boyne, and shows 
in what estimation the " fouck " of the Boyne held their neigh- 

" Buck, Belrinnes, 
Tap o' Noth, an Bennochie, 
Is four laun marks fae the sea." 

This is a saying appHcable to tlie Moray Firth. 

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- The rhyme about the Cabrach, attributed in the district to 
Jane Maxwell, Duchess of Gordon, is : — 

" I iae a kintra caa'd the Cabrach, 
The folk's dabrach, 
The water's Rnshter, 
An the corn's trushter." 

The Rushter, or Eoyster, is a stream that flows about a mile 
north of the church, having its source in the heights to the 

" Cairmnnir an Caimbyke, 
Rumblin Steens and Stoney Dykes. 
Atween the centre an the pole 
Great Csesar lies intil a hole." 

On Cairnmuir and Cairnbyke, which are in the parish of 
Pitsligo, were at one time several tumuli. Who Csesar was 
cannot be divined, 

" Caul Camousie stans on a hill, 
And mony a fremit ane gangs theretil." 

Oarnousie is a fine estate with a neat old-fashioned mansion, 
situated on a height above the Deveron, in the parish of Forglen. 
It has been thought that the words of the last line have reference 
to the frequent change of owners. 

" A' the wives o' Corncaim 
Drilling np their ham yarn; 
They hae com, they hae kye. 
They hae webs o' claith forbye." 

Corncairn is a district in BanflFshire, not far from the Knock. 
The rhyme px'aises the thrift of its gpodwives. 
The rhyme about the parish of Cruden is : — 

" Crnsh-dane the field and parish then were styled, 
Tho' time and clever tongues the name hath spoiled." 

" Cnlblean was burnt, and Cromar harriet. 
And dowie's the day John Tarn was marriet." 

In explanation of these lines tradition has the following to say. 
During the wars of Montrose and Dundee, the district of 
Strathdee was visited by bands of MacGregors from Eannoch 

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and Grants and Macintoshes from Badenoch, to reduce to order 
the disaiFected. After a time they themselves took to evil ways, 
and plundered wherever they could. The marriage of one of the 
Cromar men was to be celebrated with great pomp, and the 
indwellers were invited to a man. This was known to the free- 
booters, arid a foray on a grand scale was planned. On the 
marriage day, when the country was left defenceless, they swept 
over the district, carried off the cattle and flocks of the inhabitants, 
and burnt several of their dwellings. This aroused the vengeance 
of the people, and they arose to drive their enemies from their 
hiding-places. The only effectual way of doing this was by 
setting fire to the forest of Culblean. 

Another tradition says that it was Mackay, after the battle of 
Killiecrankie, that set fire to the forest, in forcing the Pass of 
Ballater, and at the same time wasted the Strath of Dee with 
fire and sword, and levied a contribution on the day John Tom 
was married — an event set forth in the lines : — 

" Wo to the day John Tom was married, 
Culblean was burned, and Cromar was harried." 

Cullen, in Banfishire, seems to have stood low in public 
opinion : — 

" Aiberdeen 'ill be a green 
An Banff a borrows toon, 
An Turra 'ill be a restin place, 
As men walk up and doon; 
Bit Cullen 'ill remain the same, 
A peer fool fisher toon." 

" Fin the ween cnms aff o' Cullycan 
It's naither gude for baist nor man." 

This is a weather-saw current in Macdufi'. Cullycan is a 

headland to the east of the borough. The saw embodies the evil 

efiects of the east winds. 

" Daach, Sauchin, an Keithoek Mill, 
O' Tarn o' RivTen owned the will ; 
Balveny, Cults, and Clunymoire, 
Auchindroin, an many more." 

" Tam o' Eivven " was Thomas Gordon of Euthven, who fell 
fighting against the Abbot of Grange. Tradition says that 

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Thomas Gordon, of Ruthven, laid claim to certain lands that 
belonged to the Abbey of Grange, on the Balloch Hill. 
The Abbot of Grange was not a man to stoop to give up 
what belonged to the Church, and he made ready to uphold 
his claim in the only way open to him — by arms. Tam, 
with his followers, met the brave Abbot and his men on the 
north shoulder of the Little Balloch. Both Tam and the Abbot 
were killed. The spot where the Abbot fell is called the Monk's 
. Cairn, and is about 300 yards north-east of the top of the hill. 
At the bottom of the hill is a hollow called the Gordon's How, 
to which Tam was carried wounded to death. Here, beside a 
spring of water, the Gordon died. The words of the rhyme show 
the wide extent of Tam o' Rivven's domains. 

" When Dee and Don shall rin in one, 
And Tweed shall rin in Tay, 
The bonnie water of Urie 
Shall bear the Bass away." 

The Bass is a pretty artificial mound, perhaps a Hill of Justice, 
on the banks of the Urie, near Inverurie. 

• When a church was in the act of building at Deer, owing to 
some cause no one was wise enough to account for, no progress 
could be made. At last a voice was heard crying : — 

" It is not here, it is not here, 
That ye're to big the kirk o' Deer, 
Bnt on the tap o' Tillery, 
Where many a corpse shall after lie." 

" A church accordingly was built on a knoll or small mount, 
embraced by a semicircular bend of the Ugie, and, as was 
customary, a piece of ground was set apart for a burial-place, so 
that the weird is fully verified in the great numbers of interments 
that have taken place during the lapse of centuries in a wide and 
populous parish." 

" Dipple, Dindurcas, 
Dandilieth, and Devey (Delvey), 
Is the four bonniest haughs 
On the banks o' the Spey." 

" A mile o' Dpn 's worth twa o' Dee, 
Except for salmon, stone, and tree." 

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The following extract from "View of the Diocese of Aberdeen" 
explains this rhyme. " The banks of the Dee consist of a thin, 
dry soil, abounding with wood and stone, and overgrown frequently 
with heath ; whereas those of Don consist of soil more deep and 
fat, affording good corn-fields. Some even go so far as to affirm 
that not only the corn, but also the men and beasis are taller 
and plumper on Don than on Dee." 

The Old Bridge of Don — the Brig o' Balgownie — was built 
five centuries and a half ago. Byron refers to it in " Don 
Juan " in the following lines : — 

" As Auld Langsyne brings Scotland, one and all, 
Scotch plaids, Scotch swords, the blue hills, and clear streams. 
The Dee, the Don, Balgownle's Brig's black mall. 
All my boy feelings, all my gentler dreams." 

He adds this note — " The Brig of Don, near the Auld town of 
Aberdeen, with its one arch and its black, deep, salmon-stream 
below, is in my memory as yesterday. I still remember, though 
perhaps I may misquote the awful proverb which made me to 
pause to cross it, and yet lean over it with childish delight, being 
an only son, at least by the mother side. The saying, as recol- 
lected by me, was this, but I have never heard nor seen it since 
I was nine years of age : — 

" Brig o' Balgownie, black's yer wa' ; 
Wi' a wife's ao son, and a meer's ae foal, 
Doon ye shall fa'." 

Another version of the first line is : — 

" Brig o' Balgownie tho' wicht be your wa'." 

The second line has another version : — 

" Wi' a mither's ae son, and a mare's ae foal." 

" Caul may the ween blaw 
Aboot the yits o' Eden." 

This saying relates to the old castle of Eden, a lonely keep in 
ruins, not far from the present mansion on the banks of the 
Deveron. The tradition is that a vassal of the laird of Eden 
had incua-red his lord's displeasure ; he was condemned to die, 

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and no entreaty of his wife was able to soften the laird's heart. 

When entreaty failed she uttered curses, and one of them was 

the words given above. 

According to the following Fochabers must have enjoyed an 

unenviable notoriety ; — 

" Aw sing a sang, aw ming a mang, 
A cyarliu an a kid ; 
The drunken wives of Fochabers 
Is a' rinnin wid." 

Of Fraserburgh, now the great centre of the herring tishing 
on the north-east coast, the rhyme is : — 

" Aberdeen will be a green, 
An Banff a borough's toon, 
But Fraserbroch 'ill be a broch 
When a' the brochs is deen." 

There are two versions of a "prophecy " about Fyvie Castle: — 

" Fyvyns riggs and towers 
Hapless shall your mesdames be, 
When ye shall hae within your methes. 
From han-yit kirk's land, stanes three — 
Ane in Preston's tow^er, 
Ane in my lady's bower. 
And ane below the water-yett. 
And it ye shall never get." 

Fyvie, Fyvie, thon'se never thrive 
As lang's there's in thee stanes three : 
There's ane intill the highest tower, 
There's ane intill the ladye's bower, 
There's ane aneth the water-yett. 
And thir three stanes ye'se never get." 

The tradition is as follows : The walls of Fyvie Castle stood 
wall-wide for seven years and a day waiting for the arrival of 
Thomas the Ehymer. At last he appeared before the walls, and 
a violent storm of wind and rain burst over the place ; round 
the spot where Thomas stood, however, there was a dead calm as 
he spoke the fate of the castle. The tradition goes on to say that 
two of the stones have been found, but the one below the "water- 
yett," that is, the gate leading to the Ythan, has as yet baffled 

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" If evyr maydenis malysone 
Dyd licht upon drye lande, 
Let nocht bee funde in rnrvye's glebys, 
Bot thystl, bente, and sande." 

Furvie, or Forvie, was at one time a separate parish ; it now 
forms part of the parish of Slains. Much, if not most of it, is 
now covered with sand. Tradition says that the proprietor to 
whom the parish belonged left three daughters as heirs of his 
fair lands; they were however bereft of their property, and 
thrown houseless on the world. On leaving their home they 
uttered the curse contained in the foregoing words. In course 
of no long time a storm, which lasted nine days, burst over the 
district, and turned the parish of Forvie into a desert of sand; 
this calamity is said to have fallen on the place about 1688, 

" Schondy, 

A pair o' new sheen, 
Up the Gallowgate, doon the Green." 

Both the Gallowgate and the Green are in Aberdeen. 

" The Grole o' the Gehrie (Garioch), 
The bowmen o' Mar: 
Upon the Hill o' Benochie 
The Grole wan the war." 

This seems to refer to some skirmish between the Marmen and 
the Garioch men that was fought out on Bennochie. Tradition 
has no voice in it. 

" Fin a dyke gangs roon the Bog o' Gicht, 
The Gordon's pride is at its hicht." 

Much of what now forms the beautiful policies of Gordon Castle 
was the " Bog of Gight," and the common saying in years not 
very long gone past was, that the last Duke of Gordon died 
about the time the " Bog " was wholly inclosed. 

" Twa men sat down on Ythan brae, 

The ane did to the tither say, 
' An what sic men may the Gordons of Gight hae been ? ' " 

The castle and the estate of Gight, in the parish of Fyvie, came 
about the year 1479 into the possession of William Gordon, 

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third son of the second Earl of Huntly, by a sister of the Earl of 
ErroU. He was killed at the battle of Plodden in 1513. 

" When the heron leaves the tree 
The laird o' Gight shall landless be." 

On the 12th May, 1785, Catherine Gordon of Gright married 
the Honourable John Byron. The estate was sold soon after the 
marriage. Tradition says that about the time of the marriage 
the falcons, which had built their nest for many a year in a fine 
tree near the castle, left and took up their abode in the woods 
of Haddo House. 

Another prophecy was : — 

" At Gight three men a violent death shall dee, 
And after that the land shall lie in lea." 

In the year 1791 Lord Haddo fell from his horse on the 
" Green of Gight," and was killed. Some years after a servant 
on the home farm met a violent death. The third violent death 
took place not many years ago. The home farm was to be turned 
into lea. Part of the house had to be pulled down. One of the 
men engaged in this work remarked that the prophecy had not 
come to pass. Shortly after, part of the wall fell upon him, and 
crushed him to death. 

" The guile, the Gordon, an the hiddie-craw 
Is the three worst things that Moray ever saw." 

" The guile " is the marigold {Chrysanthemum segetum), only 
too plentiful in some of the lighter sandy soils of Morayshire, 
and hinders in no small degree the crops. Pennant suggests 
that " the Gordon " may refer to the plundering expeditions of 
Lord Lewis Gordon, a son of the Marquis of Himtly, and the 
companion of Montrose in his wars. 

" A misty May and a dropping June 
Brings the bonny land of Moray aboon." 

Much of Morayshire is of a sandy nature, and the crops in 
May and June require a good deal of moisture, or else they become 

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Inverugie, in the parish of St, Fergus, was the seat of the 

Earl Marischal. Thomas the Ehymer had his saying against 

the family, which he uttered from a stone which stood near the 

castle : — 

" Inverugie by the sea, 
Lordless shall thy land he; 
And underneath thy hearth-stane 
The tod shall bring her birds hame." 

Concerning the stone the prophecy is : — 

" As lang's this stane stands on this craft 
The name of Keith shall be alaft; 
But when this stane begins t' fa' 
The name of Keith shall wear awa'." 

The stone was removed in 1763, and built into the church of 
St. Fergus, which was then in course of erection. 

In 1715 the property of the Earl Marischal was attainted. 
The estate of St. Fergus was then bought from the Crown by 
the York Buildings Company. The trustees of this Company 
sold it in 1761 to George, Earl Marischal, son of the attainted 
earl. It was bought in 1764, the year after the stone was 
removed, by Lord Pitfour, one of the senators of the College of 
Justice, and it remains in the possession of that family. 
" Pae Kilbimie t' the sea 
Ye may stap fae tree till tree." 

Kilbirnie is not far from the Ord, a few miles to the west of 
Banff. The rhyme indicates a very different state of matters 
in by-gone days from what now exists. The iract of land at 
present between Kilbirnie and the sea is all under the plough, 
and few trees are growing to adorn the landscape. 

" He (or she) is like the dogs o' Keith, he's aye on hoch." 

This saying is applied to one who is much given to going 
about in an idle way. 

" Mama shall be claid in reed 
An Mormond hill rin doon wi' bleed. 
An a' the peace that ever'll be 
'111 be atween Mormond an the sea." 

Marna lies in the parish of Strichen ; and Mormond, partly in 
Strichen, and partly in Fraserburgh and Eathen. 

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" The four great landmarks on the sea 
Is Mount Mar, Lochnagar, Clochnaben, and Bennochie." 

These are all hills in Aberdeenshire, and two of them are well 
known in poetry. 

There is a shorter version of this saw which contains the 
names of but two hills. " The chief hill here (in Garioch) is that 
of Bennochie. It has seven heads, the chief of which, being a 
round, peak, is called The Top; which, being seen afar off, and 
also affording a wide prospect to one who stands upon it, has 
given occasion to the name ; for Bin-na-chie signifies The Hill 
of Light (though others expound it as The Hill of the Pap, 
because of the resemblance The Top bears to a nipple): and 
accordingly there is an old verse which says : — 

" There are two landmarks ofE the sea, 
Clochnabin and Bennochie." 

" Pit fae ye, Pitfodels, 
There's men i' the Mearns." 

It is difficult to tell what is the meaning of those words. 

" The Pot o' PittentyonI, 
Fahr the deel gya the youl." 

The " Pot o' PittentyonI " is a small but romantic rook pool 
in a little stream called the " Burn o' the Biggins," which flows 
past the village of Newmills of Keith. On the edge of the pool 
are some hollows worn away by the water and the smaU stones 
and sand carried down by the stream. These hollows, to a 
lively imagination, have the shape of a seat, and the story is, 
that the devil at some far-back time sat down on the edge of the 
pool, and left his mark. 

" Fin the ramble comes fae Pittendrum, 
The ill weather's a' t' cum; 
Fin the rumble comes fae Aberdour, 
The ill weather's a' our." 

This is a saw respecting the weather sometimes heard repeated 
in the parish of Pitsligo. Pittendrum lies on the east side of the 
parish, and, when a storm is approaching from the east, the swell 


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of the sea, whicli comes before the storm bursts, breaks on the 
beach not far from Pittendruni. Hence the noise. Aberdour lies 
to the west of the parish. 

Kattrayhead is a ridge of rocks running out into the sea on 
the coast of the parish of Crimond ; it is dangerous to shipping, 
and has seen many a wreck. Its safeguard has been put into 
the following lines : — 

" Keep Monnond Hill a handspike high, 
And Rattray Brigs y'ill not come nigh." 

« The road t' the Kirk o' Eivven (Ruthven), 
Fahr gangs mair dead nor livin." 

Euthven, in Cairnie, had once a church, and the chui'chyard 

is still in existence. 

" At two full times, and three half times, 
Or threescore years and ten, 
The ravens shall sit on the stanes o' St. Brandon 
And drink o' the blood o' the slain." 

The stones of St. Brandon, the patron saint of Banff, stood on 
a field about a mile to the west of Banff. Tradition has it that a 
battle between the Scots and the Danes was fought on this 
field. Near the same place is the Brandon How (pronounced 
locally Brangin How), where long ago St. Brandon's Fair was 
held; this fair is now held in Banff. Eain, called "the Brangin 
sob," is looked for about this time. 

In the parish of Cruden, not far from the Hawklaw, there is 
a well dedicated to St, Olaus, whose virtues are set forth in the 
words : — 

" St. Olav's well, low by the sea, 
Where pest nor plague shall never be. 


" The Brig o' Tnrra 
'S half-wye atween Aberdeen and Murra." 

" The Brig o' Tnrray 
'S half-way between Aberdeen and Elgin in Murray." 

Turriff was noted for a skirmish between the Royalists and 

" This infall (known afterwards commonly by the name of 

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'the Trott o' Turra,' in derisione) fell out May fourteenth, 1639, 
earlye in the morning." " Weary fa' the Trott o' Turra " was 
for long on the lips of the folk as a kind of proverb. 

" Little Ugie said to Muckle Ugie 

' Where shall we twa meet ? ' 
' Boon in the Hanghs of Eora 
When a' man is asleep.' " 

Another version of the first line is, 

" Ugie said t' Ugie." 

The two sti'eams that form the Ugie meet in the parish of 
Longside, on the Haughs of Rora. 

Druidioal Cieclbs. 

" Druidioal Circles " and monoliths were looked upon with 
awe; and there were few that would have dared to remove 
them. Here is a tradition of a monolith on the farm of Achor- 
rachin in Glenlivet. The farmer was building a steading, and 
took the stone as a lintel to a byre-door. Disease fell upon 
the cattle, and most unearthly noises were heard during night 
all round the steading. There was no peace for man or beast. 
By the advice of a friend the stone was taken from the wall, and 
thrown into the river that ran past the farm. Still there was 
no peace. The stone was at last put into its old place in the 
middle of a field. Things then returned to their usual course. 
The stone stands to the present day in the middle of the field, 
and in some of its crevices were seen, not many years ago, small 
pieces of mortar. 

At Killishmont, near Keith, Banffshire, was a piece of ground 
called "the Helliman Rig." It lay on the top of a rising 
ground, and commanded a very wide view of the country, 
stretching for many miles over the hills of Banff and Moray. 
In a part of it the rock — a kind of slate — came to the surface. 
In the rock were cut out nine cups in three rows. Tradition has 
it that a tenant long ago began to cultivate it. No sooner had 
the plough touched it than one of the oxen fell down dead. It 
is not very many years since it was brought tinder cultivation. 

I 2 
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Unfortunately the piece of the rock containing the cups was 
broken and lost. 

Such a piece of laiad was at times called the " Gruidmahn's 
Craft." The matter of dedicating a piece of land to the devil 
engaged the attention of the Church. 

" Att Botarie, 25"" November, 1646 — The said day, compeired William Seif- 
vrigbt and George Stronach, in Glas, and being accused of sorcerie, in 'alloting 
and gining oyer some land to the old goodman (as they call it),denyed the same; 
and, becaus it vas so alledgit, they promised to manure said land. The brethren, 
taking the mater to their consideratioun, continowed their censure till the per- 
formance of this their promis." 

Sir William Gordon, of Lesmore, on an occasion of a visita- 
tion of the parish of Rhynie (" 13th Augusti, 1651 "), 

" being asked whither or no ther was any land in that parisch that was ginen 
away (as is commonly said) to the goodman, and used not to be laboured ; 
answered, it was reported to him that ther [was] some of that in his owne maines, 
hot that he had a mynd, be the assistance of God, to cause labom- the samen ; 
quherupon he was commended for his ingenuitie in declareing it, and exhorted 
to take paines shortly to haue it laboured." * 


It is told of many of the caves along the sea-coast that bag- 
pipers had entered them and walked along them playing, some- 
times for a short distance and sometimes for miles, according to 
the length of each cave, till they came below this and the next 
farm-kitchen, and this and the next rising ground, but that by 
some spell on them they could never return, and that at times 
they might still be heard discoursing music at the spots at which 
their progress inland underground was stopped. 

The same belief was entertained of many of the caves inland. 

* E(Btraots frmii the Preshjtenj Book of Strathbogie, pp. 71, 208, 209. 
Spalding Club. Cf. Henderson, p. 278. 

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N the ballad of ' The Battle of Harlaw,' the burgh of 
Aberdeen is styled " brave ": — 

" The Provost of brave Aberdeen, 

With trumpets and with tuck of drum, 
Came shortly in their armour sheen." 

In the ballad of the ' Duke of Gordon's Three Daughters,' 
Aberdeen is characterised as "bonnie": — 

" The Duke of Gordon has three daughters, 
Elizabeth, Margaret, and Jane; 
They wad na stay in bonnie Castle Gordon, 
But they wad go to bonnie Aberdeen." 


The laird of Drum and his brother laird of Lawrieston are 

mentioned in the ballad of ' The Ballad of Harlaw ' in this 


" The strong undoubted laird of Drum, 
The stalwart laird of Lawrieston, 
With ilk their forces all and some. 


Duff is the family name of the Earl of Fife. The family has 
gone on for several generations, adding, from a beginning not 
at all large, land to laud, so that the estates now bulk largely in 
the shires of Banff, Aberdeen, and Moray. Hence, probably, 
has arisen the proverb " Duff's luck." 

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Thomas the Ehymer has delivered himself regarding the 
family of Saltoun. There are several versions of the "pro- 
phecy ": — 

'.' Quhen there's ne'er a cock o' the North, 
Y'll find a Firzell in Philorth. 

Another form is : — 

" While a cock craws i' the North, 
There'll be a Fraser at Philorth." 

A third form, with two additional lines, not of a flattering 
nature, may still be heard in the district : — 

" As lang as there is a cock o' the North, 
There'll be a Kraser in Philorth. 
There'll be ane t' win an twa t' spen' 
Till the warl come till an en'." 

The Frasers' characteristic was " bauld," and Lord Saltoun, 
in the ballad of ' The Battle of Harlaw,' is called " worthy 
Lord Saltoun." 


During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Gordons 
had great power in the North. Their possessions were very large. 
Much that was done in the North was done by them. Hence 
arose the proverb, " The Gordons hae the guidin o't." 

The Gordons are, by the ballad-writers, characterised as 

'• gay.' 

" Four-and-twenty nobles sit in the king's ha', 
Bonnie Glenlogie is the flower amang them a'. 

In came Lady Jane, skipping on the floor, 

And she has chosen Glenlogie 'mong a' that was there. 

She turned to his footman, and thus she did say — 
' what is his name and where does he stay? ' 

' His name is Glenlogie, when he is from home, 
He is of the gay Gordons; his name it is .Tohn.' 

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' Glenlogie, Glenlogie, an you will prove kind, 
My love is laid on you; I am telling my mind.' 

He turned about lightly, as the Gordons does a' ; 
' I thank you, Lady Jean; my love's promised awa'." 

" The Battle of Otterburn " says :- 

" It fell about the Lammas tide 
When muu-men win their hay. 
That the doughty Earl of Douglas rade 
Into England to fetch a prey. 

And he has ta'en the Lindsay light, 
With them the Gordons gay. 

The Gordons gay in English blude 
They wat their hose and shoon." 

Another version of the last words is : — 

" The Gordons guid in English blnid 
Did dip their hose and shoon." 

During the reign of James II. several rebellions broke out 
in the ^North. Alexander de Seton, first Earl of Huntly, was 
sent by the King to bring the rebel chiefs to order. He defeated 
the Earl of Crawford at Brechin in 1542, but he was not long 
after defeated by the Earl of Moray at a place called the Bog of 
Dunkinty. Hume of Godscroft, in his ' History of the House of 
Douglas/ gives the following account of Huntly's disaster : — 
" Huntly had the name of the victory (at Brechin), yet could 
not march forward to the King as he intended, and that partly 
because of his great losse of his men, partly for that he was 
advertised that Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray, had invaded 
his lands, and burnt the Piele of Strathbogie. Therefore he 
returned speedily to his own country, which gave Crawford 
leisure and occasion to pour out his wrath against them who had 
so treacherously forsaken them by burning and wasting their 
lands. Huntly being returned to the North, not only recom- 
pensed the damage done to him by the Earl of Murray, but ajso 
compelled him out of his whole bounds of Murray ; yet it was 
not done without conflict and mutual harm ; for Huntly, coming 
to Elgin in Murray, found it divided — the one half standing for 
him, the other half (and almost the other side of the street) 

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standing for the Earl of Murray, wherefore he burnt the half 
which was for Murray ; and hereupon rose the proverb, 
' Halfe done as Elgin was tnmt.' 

While he was there Murray assembled his power, which, con- 
sisting mostly of footmen, he sate down upon a hill some two or 
three miles off, called the Drum of Pluscardine, which was 
inaccessible to the horsemen. Huntly furrowed his lands, to 
draw liim from the hill, or at least to be revenged of him that 
way, thinking he durst not into the plain fields, and not 
thinking it safe to assault him in a place of such disadvantage. 
But Murray, seeing Huntly's men so scattered, came out of his 
strength, and falling upon four or five thousand horsemen, 
drave them into a bogue, called the Bogue of Duukintie, in the 
bounds of Pittendriech, full of quagmires, so deepe that a speere 
may be thrust into them and not find the bottom. In this bogue 
many were drowned, the rest slain, few or none of that com- 
pany escaping. There are yet (1646) to be seene swords, Steele 
caps, and such other things, which are found now and then by 
the country people who live about it. They made this round 
I'hyme of it afterwards : — 

' Where left thou thy men, thou Gordon so gay 1 ' 
' In the Bogue of Dunkintie, mowing the hay.' " 

Besides the characteristic of " gay," which belonged to the 

Gordons, that of " gude " is put to the credit of their clan. The 

laird of Auchindoun, in the ballad of ' The Battle of Ben- 

rinnes,' is alluded to thus : — 

" Gude Auchindoun was slain himsel' 
Wi' seven mair in batell." 

Gordon Castle, the mansion of the Dukes of Gordon, and now 
of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, on the bank of the Spey, 
near Fochabers, used to be called by the folk " bonnie Castle 
Gordon." It is so styled in the ballad of ' The Duke of Gordon's 
Three Daughters ' : — 

" 0, if I were at the glens o' Toudlen, 
Where hunting I hae been; 
I could find the way to bonnie Castle Gordon, 
Without either stockings or shoou," 

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place and family charactekistics. 121 


There stands in front of Slains Castle a stone, which has been 
preserved with the utmost care by the family of Erroll, and of 
which the following is the tradition. It is the stone on which 
the great hero of the battle of Luncarty seated himself after 
putting the enemy to rout. " Yielding to the quick respiration 
of a wearied man, he gave utterance to the sound, * Hech, 
hey ! ' which, softened into Hay, is said to have acquired for 
him the name, and thus originated the name of the family." 
The King on hearing the exclamation said : — 
'■ Hech, heigh, say ye, 
And Hay shall ye be." 

The Hays are styled " the handsome." The character given 

to the Earl of Erroll in the ballad of ' The Battle of Benrinnes ' 

is " noble " and " gude " : — 

" The first man in council spak, 
Gude En-ol, it was he." 

Earl op Mar. 
The Earl of Mar is spoken of in the ballad of ' The Battle of 
Harlaw ' in this way: — 

" To hinder this proud enterprise 

The stout and mighty Earl of Mar, 
With all his men in arms did arise, 

Even frae Curgarf to Craigievar. 
And thus the martial Earl of Mar 

Marched with his men in right array." 


Of Lord Ogilvie the ballad of ' The Battle of Harlaw ' speaks 

thus : — 

" With him the brave Lord Ogilvy, 
Of Angus Sheriff-Principal." 

Strathbogie gets the epithet of " fair " in the ballad of ' The 
Battle of Harlaw ' : — 

" And then through fair Strathbogie'lands 
His purpose was for to pursue." 

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And the same in the ballad of ' The Battle of Benrinnes ' : — 

" Then Huntlie, to prevent that peril, 
He sent right hastilie, 
Unto the noble Earl of Errol, 
Besought him for supplie. 
' Sae lang's a man will stand by me, 

Shall Huntlie hae support. 
For gin he lose fair Strathbogie, 
The Slaines will come to hurt.' " 


" Tollie Barclay of the glen, 
Happy to the maids but never to the men.'' 

This weird was said to follow the death of the heir male, who 
seldom survived his father, and so strong a hold had this in the 
belief of the people that it was by them assigned as the reason 
for the sale of the estate in 1753. 

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The Mole. 

MOLE burrowing near the foundation of a dwelling- 
house was looked upon as an indication that the in- 
dwellers were within a short time to change their 
abode. If the burrowing was carried round the 
whole house, or a considerable part of it, the death of some one 
of the inmates was looked upon as not far distant.* 

If one take a mole and rub it between the hands till it dies, 
the power of healing a woman's festered breast lies ever after in 
the haiads. All that has to be done is to rub the breast between 
the hands. 

When one is laid in the grave, he is said at times "to be 
heakenin the moles."t 

The Cat. 

The cat bore a bad character in every respect. J 

Cats were behaved to have a strong propensity to suck the 
breath of a sleeping baby. Such an act was regarded as very 
dangerous, and was believed to end in death if it was continued 
for any length of time. § 

A eat dying in the house was a warning of the death of one 
of the indwellers. 

Few cared to shoot a cat, as it was believed that he who was 

foolhardy enough to do so would, within a short time, meet with 

disaster of some kind, or prove unfortunate in his ordinary 

work for a time. It is said in story that one, who was unwise 

* I'aune populaire de la Fravce, vol. i. jj. 14 (5). f Ibid. p. 11 (15). 

J Cf. Ealston's Songs of the Russian People, p. 405. 

§ Cf. Henderson, p. lift, F. L. Beeord, vol. i. p. 25 (88), vol. ii. p. 205, and 
Choioe Notes, p. 188. 

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enough to use his gun against a cat, shortly afterwards nearly- 
cut off his fingers with a sickle ; and that this other one, who 
was fond of poaching, for weeks after, shooting a cat, did not see 
a single hare, and had not a chance of hitting a single bird. 

When a family had to remove from one house to another, the 
eat was always taken. To have left it was deemed unlucky. It was 
taken for another reason — as a protection against disease. Before 
a member of the family entered the new abode the cat was thrown 
into it. If a curse or disease had been left on the house, the eat 
became the victim and died, to the saving of the family's lives. 

If a cow or other domestic animal was seized with disease, one 
mode of cure was to twist a rope of straw (a raip) the contrary 
way, join the two ends, and put the diseased animal through the 
loop along with a cat. The disease was transferred to the cat, 
and the animal's life was saved by the eat dying. 

Many counted it unlucky to meet a black cat at any time. 
And there have been those who always carried an old iron nail 
to throw at a black cat which crossed their path. By this act all 
evil was warded off. 

It was deemed highly unlucky for a bride setting out to be 
married to meet a cat. 

To meet a cat as ihejirst Jit was looked, upon as indicating 
the failure of what was to be undertaken, or foreboding an 
accident or bad news within a short time. " To meet the cat in 
the mornin " is a proverbial expression addressed to one who 
has returned from an unsuccessful mission, or met with a piece 
of bad fortune during the day. 

It was a notion that a male cat, when he jumped, emitted urine, 
and at times semen. Hence great care was used to keep male 
cats at a distance from food, for another notion was, that, if a cat 
did chance to jump over food, the one, who was unfortunate 
enough to partake of it, conceived cats. 

The following extract shows the prevalence of the opinion : — 

" At Botarie, 1st March, 1654. 

" The said day, Mr. James Gordon related to the Presbytrie that Jean Symsor, 
parochiner of Rothemay, fornicatrix with John Wat, a boy of about fourteen 
yeirs of age, had come to him, alleadging she had cats in her bellie, desireing a 
testificat to physicians in Aberdein for cure, which he refused ; that she had 

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gone, together with her mother, Issobell Crichton, and gotten drinks for destroying 
these cats, as she alleadged, and yet, notwithstanding of all, was now found to 
be with childe." * 

The common saying about greedy, selfish, ill-intentioned men 
or women, when they were known to do a kind action, was, 
" They're like the cats, they nivver dee guide bit oot o' an ill 
intention." Of such as had the audacity and adroitness to stand 
well in whatever untoward circumstances they might be placed 
the saying was, and still is, " They're like the cats, for they aye 
licht o' their feet." 

If cats sit by the fire, lick their forepaws, and then rub them 
over their ears, face, and whiskers, rain is looked upon as sure 
within a short time. The saying is, " It's gyain' t' be rain, the 
cat's washin' her face."t A eat sneezing indicated rain.| 

Here is a rhyme about a cat and a mouse, which was usually 
sung to children ; when the last line was sung the singer made 
a clutch at one of the children, in imitation of the cat seizing 
moosie : — 

" A cattie at a mill door sat spinnin, spiuuin, 

Fin by comes a moosie rinnin, rinnin. 

Says the moosie t' the cattie, 
' Paht are ye deein, my winsome laidie ? ' 
' Spinnin a sark t' my braw new son,' 

Quo' the cat, quo' she. 
' Weel may he brook it, my winsome laidie.' 
• If he disna brook it ill, he'll brook it weel,' 

Quo' the cat, quo' she. 
' A swypit my hoosie clean the streen, my winsome laidie.' 
' Ye didna sit in't fool than,' 

Quo' the cat, quo' she. 
' An I fan' a penny in't, my winsome laidie.' 
' Ye didna wiut siller than,' 

Quo' the cat, quo' she. 
' An I boclit cheese wae't, my winsome laidie.' 
' Ye didna wint meht than,' 

Quo' the cat, quo' she. 
' An I ate it up my winsome laidie.' 
' So will I eat you.' " 

* Extracts from tlie Presbytery Booli of Strathhogie, p. 2i7. Spalding Club. 
Aberdeen, A.D. 18i3. 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 206. % lUcl. p. 206. 

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The cat forms the subject of several rhymes, no doubt from 
its behig so often a pet of the fireside. 
" Ding dong, ding dong, 
Pah's this it's dead ? 
It's puir pussy bauthrons 
O' a sehr hehd. 
A' them it kent her, 
Fin she wiz alive, 
Come til her beereal 
Atween four and five.'' 

Another version of the first lines is : — 

" Ting, tang, alang." 
Here are two more cat-rhymes : — 
" ' Pussy cat, pussy cat, 
Eahr hae ye been ? ' 
' I've been t' London 

Seeing the king.' 
' Pussy cat, pussy cat, 
!Faht got ye there ? ' 
' I got a wee moosie 
Aneth the king's chair.' " 

" Cheetie puss, cattie puss, meau-au-au, 

Fahr '11 we gang i' the sneaw-au-au ? ' 
' We'll gang t' the boggie, an worry a hoggie, 

An seen we'll get beenies t' gneaw-au-au.' " 

The Dog. 

It was believed that a dog would not approach a fey person, 
i.e. a person who was soon to die. When a member of a family 
was ill, watch was kept how the dog behaved towards the sick 
one. The approach of the animal to the sick one gave good 
hope of a recovery. A dog howling at night was the omen of 
the death of a member of the family, or of one nearly related to 
the family, or of some one in the neighbourhood.* 

The dog had the power of seeing ghosts.f Many a time has 
it happened to the belated traveller, as he was returning home 
through some lonely wood, or crossing some bridge with a deep 
dark pool below it, that the faithful dog has come up to his 
master, and with drooping tail kept close to him, and neither 
coaxing nor threats would make him move a step away from his 
master's foot ; waterkelpie, or an evil spirit was stalking beside. 
* Cf. Henderso,j5.g.^||.^ ^^ ^.^^^^^^ t ^''-^. P- 48. 


If a dog bit one it was a common thing to kill the dog. It 
was believed that, if the dog became mad afterwards, the one that 
was bitten was seized with hydrophobia. 

If a mad dog bit one, the dog was killed at once, the heart 
taken out, dried over the fire, ground into powder, and part of 
the powder given as a potion. No evil followed from the bite.* 

The common notion was that a dog never bit an idiot. 

A dog licking a wound or running sore was an efficacious remedy. 

A dog eating grass prognosticated rain. 

When children got into a sulky humour it was commonly 
said to them, " The black dog's sittin' o' the back o' yer neck." 
When a child became cross, it was often said, " See the black 
dog '11 cum doon the lum and bite ye," and the nurse began to 
imitate the barking of a dog. When a child was going where 
it ought not to go something like this was said, " Cum back, or 
a big dog 'ill take ye." 

Without doubt this mode of expression is the same as the one 
in Germany and other parts of the Continent about the Eoggen- 
wolf and Roggenhund, and has its origin far back in the olden 

The Poepoise. 
The porpoise, or " louper dog," tumbling with forward 
motion in the sea, is supposed to indicate the coming of a breeze. 
The animal always goes against the wind. 

The Mouse. 
A roast mouse was a cure for the whooping-cough and for the 
jaundice. Three roasted mice had most eff^ect in bringing about 
the cure of whooping-cough.f 

The Field Mouse. 
The field mouse, called " the thraw mouse," running over the 
foot of a person, was supposed to produce paralysis in the foot. J 

* Cf. F. L. Jlecord, to), i. p. 43 (140), and Henderson, pp. 159, 160. 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 144; F. L. Bccorcl, vol. i. p. 49 (162), and Choice Notes, 
pp. 225, 326. 

X F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 42 (132-135). 

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128 animal and plant superstitions. 

The Eat. 

If rats came to a dwelling-house in more than ordinary 
numbers the indwellers were soon to remove. The rats had 
come to " summonce " them out. 

If rats left a dwelling-house of a sudden, some took it as a 
token that the death of one of the inmates was at hand. Others 
regarded such a thing as a sure indication that the house was to 
tumble down at no distant date. Sailors looked upon their 
departure from a ship as a forewarning of its speedy wreck. 

A rat's head was supposed to be poisonous.. Cats in con- 
sequence did not eat it, though they devoured the body. 

The Hare. 

Grreat aversion was shown towards the hare both by the fishing 
population and by the agricultural, except in one instance. 

It was into a hare the witch turned herself when she was 
going forth to perform any of her evil deeds, such as to steal 
the milk from a neighbour's cow. Against such a hare, when 
running about a farm-steading, or making her way from the 
cow-house after accomplishing her deed of taking the cow's milk 
to herself, a leaden bullet from a gun had no effect. She could 
be hit by nothing but by a crooked sixpence. If such a hare 
crossed a sportsman's path, all his skill was baffled in pursuit of 
her, and the swiftest of his dogs were soon left far behind.* 

The hare was aware of her power, and would do what she 
could to annoy the sportsman. She would disappear for a time, 
and again suddenly start up beside him, and then off like the 
wind in a moment out of his reach. For hours would she play 
in this way with man and dogs. She has been known, however, 
to have been hit by the crooked sixpence in an unwary moment. 
Then she made to her dwelling with all the speed she could, and 
well for her if she reached it before the dogs came upon her. 
When the sportsman entered the hut he saw the hare enter, 
instead of finding the hare that had cost him so many hours' 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 201-201, and Choice Notes, p. 27. 
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toil, he found an old woman lying panting and bleeding on the 
bed, and it was with difficulty he could prevent the dogs from 
tearing her to pieces. 

To say to a fisherwoman that there was a hare's foot in her 
creel, or to say to a fisherman that there was a hare in his boat, 
aroused great ire, and called forth strong words. The word 
" hare " was not pronounced at sea. 

To have thrown a hare, or any part of a hare, into a boat 
would have stopped many a fisherman in by-gone days from 
going to sea ; and if any misfortune had happened, however 
long afterwards, it was traced up to the hare.* 

A hare crossing the path portended mishap on the journey. f 
To counteract the evil effects of this untoward event a cross had 
to be made upon the path, and spit upon. 

HareUp was produced by a woman enceinte putting her foot 
into a hare's lair. If the woman noticed she had done so, she 
immediately took two stones and put them into the lair. The 
evil effects were averted. 

It was accounted very lucky if a hare started from amongst 
the last cut piece of grain. 

The Pig. 

The pig was regarded as a kind of unclean animal, although 
its fiesh is used. 

Pigs have from three to five round marks ranged in the shape 
of a crescent on the foreleg a little above the ankle. They go 
by the name of the " Devil's mark." J 

Among some of the fishing population it was accounted very 
unlucky for a marriage party to meet a pig. 

The men of several of the villages would not pronounce the 
word "swine" when they were at sea. It was a word of ill omen. 

The bite of a pig was regarded witli horror. It was deemed 
impossible or next to impossible of cure, and was supposed to 
produce cancer. 

* Cf. F. L. Sseord, vol. i. pp. 200, 201. 

t Cf. Henderson, p. 204, and Faune pop^daire de la France, vol. i. p. 87 (2). 
% Cf. Henderson, p. 313, and Choice Notes, p. 215. 


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Soup made of fresh pork, or " pork-bree," was looked upon 
as a sovereign remedy for many diseases — dyspepsia, consump- 
tion, &c. 

A mysterious dreaded sort of animal, called " the yird swine," 
was believed to live in graveyards, burrowing among the dead 
bodies and devouring them. 

It was a very common notion that the pig sees the wind.* 

To signify that an undertaking had failed there was used the 
proverb, " The swine hiz gane throw 't," or " The swine hiz 
gane throw the kail." A common saying in some parts of 
Germany is, " Der Eber geht im Korn." In other parts it is said, 
" Die wilden Schweine sind im Kornfeld." Professor Manhardt 
says in his "Roggenwolf " (p. 1), "An vielen Orten Deutchlands 
warnt man die kleinen Kinder, sich in ein Kornfeld zu ver- 
laufen, 'denn es sitze eine wilde Sau, ein wilder Eber darin.'" 

The Horse. 

In setting out on a journey, to meet a horse as the " first fit " 
was accounted a good omen of the success of the journey.f 

The meeting of a horse by a bridal party as the " first fit " 
was looked upon as a sure proof of a happy marriage. 

Omens of good or bad luck were drawn from the lamb or foal 
first seen during the season. If the animal's head was towards 
the observer, the year would bring prosperity, but, if the animal 
was standing in the opposite position, misfortune would crown 
the year. 

It was the belief that the horse had the faculty of seeing at 
night ghosts and hobgoblins. Many is the time the faithful 
animal has carried its master though dangers from waterkelpies 
and other beings of the realm of spirits. On such occasions, 
when the horse reached the stable-door, and was inspected by 
the light of the lantern, there was not a hair but had a drop of 
sweat hanging from it. 

If it was necessary to put to death on a farm a horse from old 
age, the skin had to be stripped off; unless this was done, 
another horse would soon fall either by disease or accident. 
* Cf. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 20C. f Cf. Henderson, p. 116. 

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When a mare foaled inside the stable, the first time the foal 
left the stable it was put forth tail foremost to prevent it lying 
down in the middle of a ford when crossing. Sometimes the 
stable door was taken off the hinges and laid flat on the ground 
in the doorway, and the foal pulled over it. 

Let a mare's first secundines be taken and buried, and let the 
spot under which it lies be searched from time to time till a four- 
bladed clover is found. Whoever finds it and eats it has the power 
of opening the most intricate lock simply by breathing upon it. 

Waterkelpie often took the form of a beautiful black horse. 
Sometimes he appeared to the weary belated traveller, and used 
every art he was capable of to induce him to mount. If the 
traveller did so, off started the animal and ran with the speed of 
the hurricane to his home, a deep pool, and plunged into it with 
his too confiding victim, who perished in the water. 

What was called the " Horse Grace " was in the following 
words :— 

" It's up the brae ca' me not, 
It's doon the brae ca' me not, 
It's in fair road spare me not, 
Ah in the stable forget me not." 

Here is the wish I of an overwrought horse that lived before 

the days of Father Matthew : — 

" Oh, gin I wir a brewer's horsp, 
Though it wir but half a year, 
I wud turn my hehd f aar ma tail sud be, 
An I wud drink oot a' the beer." 

How TO FIND Water. 

One mode of discovering where water was to be found was to 
keep from water a mare having a foal, and to tether her on the 
place where it was wished to dig for water ; the mare, in her 
desire to quench her thirst, pawed over the spot under which the 
spring lay. If she did not paw, there was no spring within the 
circuit of her tether. She was removed to another place and 
watched. This process of shifting the animal from place to place 
was continued till the desired sign was given. Here is a tradi- 
tion : The castle of Dundargue, which was built on a headland 


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in the parish of Aberdour, was at one time besieged. The first 
work of the besiegers was to cut oflF the water which ran to the 
castle fi-om a well in an adjoining field, and to efface all trace of 
it. When water had to be again supplied to the castle, to pre- 
vent all fimitless digging, a mare having a foal, after being 
deprived of water for a time, was tethered near the place where 
the well was known to be ; in due coui'se the thirsty animal 
pawed the ground right above the weU. 

The Ass. 

One cure for the whooping-cough was the following : — The 
patient was placed in such a way as to inhale for a time the 
breath of the ass. The patient was then passed three times 
under the belly and over the back of the ass, and, last of all, 
taken home through a wood. 

To ride for a little upon an ass was another mode of cure for 
the same disease. 

The Sheep. 
The sheep was regarded with particular favour, and treated 
with kindness. It was accounted unlucky if the sheep on a farm 
began to bring forth stock of various colours ; hence the saying : — 
" Fin the nont begins t' fleck and gehr, 
Ye may lat oot the byre mehr and mehr ; 
Fin the sheep begins t' black and brook. 
Ye may tack in the cot at ilky nenk."* 

In days not very long ago, when a lamb of black eoloiu: was 
brought forth in a flock, it was put to death at once; its appear- 
ance was the forerunner of misfortune in some shape to the 
flockm aster. 

Before a coming storm the sheep on the lulls are said always 
to make for the sheltered spots on the low ground ; and when 
they fi-'isk and dance like lambs a storm is at hand. 

Sleeping among sheep was looked upon as useful in the cure 

of any lingering disease ; both their breath and the smell that 

arose from themselves and excrements had virtue in them to 

bring about a cure. For lingering diseases it WRS looked upon 

"^ Cf. F. L, Record, vol, i. p. 10 (24), 

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as of good effect to arise early in the morning, and to go into 
the byres while they were being cleaned, and if the patient 
was able to give help in the cleaning so much the better for 
a speedy recovery. To follow the plough and to smell the 
newly turned up soil was looked upon as very efficacious in the 
cure of the same kinds of diseases. It was the odour of the byre 
and of the newly turned up soil in which the curative virtue lay. 
A rhyme on the sheep was : — 

" ' Baa, sheepie, baa, 

Pnh mony hoggies hivv ye the day ? ' 
' A black and a brookit, 
A red and a rookit, 
They hinna been coontit for mony a day.' " 


Cattle do not seem to have played any important part in folk- 

When cattle on the pasture stood holding up their heads and 
snuffing, it was looked upon as an indication that rain was not far 

A bull " boorin " at a man was looked upon as an evidence 
that the man was of bad character. 

The following rhymes about the cow are still current among 
some old-fashioned nurses : — 

" Kettie Beardie hid a coo, 

Black and fite aboot the raoo; 

Wisna she a dainty coo, 

Dance Kettie Beardie." 
" There wiz a piper hid a coo. 

An he hid nocht to give her. 

He took his pipes an played a tune, 

An bad her weel consider. 

The coo considered very weel. 

An gave the piper a penny 

T' play the same tune ouer again, 
' The com rigs are bonnie.' " 
" I've a cherry, I've a chess, 

I've a bonnie blue glaiss ; 

I've a dog amo' the com 

Blawin' Willie Buck's horn. 

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Willie Buck hid a coo, 
Black and fite aboot the moo, 
They caad her Bell o' Blinty. 
She lap our the Brig o' Dee 
Like ony cove-o-linty." 


When the water-hen, or any other bird that builds its nest on 
the banks of rivers, or streams, or lochs, places its nest high 
above the usual level of the water, it was believed that there 
would be more than the ordinary fall of rain to cause flood in 
the stream or loch. The bird was endowed by the Father who 
cares for all with this knowledge, so that its nest might be 
placed out of the reach of danger. 

Most birds were believed to pair on Valentine day, but larks 
about Candlemas. 

If sea-birds kept flying inland in flocks with much noise it 
was regarded as an indication of a coming storm. 

If they fly high, a breeze is supposed to be not very distant. 

Bird Ehymes. 

" There wiz a birdie cam t' Scotland, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle, 
For t' push its fortune, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle. 
Fin the birdie laid an egg, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle, 
Filthy fa' the greedy gled 
Eet a' the birdie's egg, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle." 

The following was the version current in and about Mac- 

" There wiz a birdie cam' t' Scotland, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle. 
For t' push its fortune, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle. 

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An the birdie laid an egg, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle. 
An oot the egg there cam a bird, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle, 
An the birdie flew away, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle, 
An its mother socht it a' day, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle; 
An she got it in a bog, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle; 
An she lickit it wi' a scrog, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle ; 
An she took the birdie hame, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle; 
An laid it doon upon a stane, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle; 
An pickit oot baith its een, 
Hodle, dodle, hodle, dodle." 

The Ckow. 

The crow was a bird of darkness.* He was always associated 
with the man skilled in " black airt." 

A Morayshire laird had gone to Italy to study " black airt," 
and had returned master of it. A night's frost came, and he 
wished to try his power. He ordered his coachman to yoke his 
carriage. The coachman obeyed, and brought the carriage. 
The laird ordered the coachman to drive to a lock near the man- 
sion, and cross it on the ice, with the strict injunction not to 
look behind him. He then entered the carriage, and the coach- 
man knowing his master's power obeyed, made for the loch, 
entered on the ice, and drove with fury over it. When the 
horses' forefeet touched the opposite bank, curiosity overcame 
command and caution, and the coachman looked behind him, and 
saw a large crow perched on the roof of the carriage. In the 
twinkling of an eye the black bird had vanished, and crash went 
the hind wheels of the carriage through the ice ; but the coach- 
man urged on the horses, and the horses pulled stoutly, and the 
laird was landed safely. 

It was a common belief that many sold themselves to the 
devil in exchange for some supernatural evil power — the power 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 126. 

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of causing tempests — tho power of the " ill ee " — the power of 
making money, &c. 

Such a one, or one who was skilled in " black airt," and had 
practised it to the hurt of his fellow men, or one who had been 
guilty of some terrible deed that had never been brought to light, 
died amid the roar of the tempest in the dead of night. If the 
death night was wild, wilder yet was the funeral day. Men 
with difficulty stood against the strength of the storm. The 
difficulty was made greater by the weight of the coffin ; for the 
coffin of such a one was almost too heavy to be borne by the 
usual number of bearers — eight. As they were toiling on in 
silence, and in much dread, and with many surmisings, suddenly 
appeared at times, as is told in story, a crow and a dove, driving 
quick as the storm-wind towards the coffin. Which would 
reach first? Sometime the dove outstripped the crow. Eepent- 
ance had come into the dead one's heart before leaving earth, 
the cry for forgiveness had gone up to the Father of all, and had 
been heard. Heaven after all was the home of the departed one. 
Sometimes the crow dashed on before the dove, and with such 
force as to break through the coffin lid. The dead one had gone 
to the other world with sin unforgiven. The demon of evil was 
claiming his own. 

A crow alighting on a house indicated that death was hovering 
over it, and that it would soon enter, and take away an inmate. 

It was thought very unlucky to destroy a rookery. A story 
is told of a Buchan proprietor who, for some reason or other, a 
good many years ago, destroyed a large rookery near his man- 
sion-house. Since that time, as the old people stiy, nothing has 

The act of rooks flying upwards and downwards, and, as it 
were, tumbling over each other, was called " cloddin," and was 
looked upon as the forerunner of wind. 

If rooks perch themselves in rows on the tops of walls or on 
palings, rain is believed to be not far distant. 

When a flock of rooks kept wheeling and hovering round and 
round much in one spot, it was called " a craw's weddan." 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 122. 

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Plere are two crow rhymes : — 

" The craws killt the pnsie, 0; 

The craws killt the pnsie, O; 

The muckle cat 

Sat (loon an grat, 

At the back o' Johnnie's hoosie, 0." 
" Craw, craw, 

Yir mither's awa' 

Tor poother an lead 

T' shot ye a' dead." 

The Raven. 

A rhyme about the raven was: — 

" Pit yir finger in the corbie's hole, 
The corbie's nae at hame ; 
The corbie's at the back door 
Pickin at a behn." 

At the same time the one who repeated it j)ut the thumb and 
the forefinger together, and asked his companion to put his 
finger into the opening so formed ; if he did so, he got pinched. 

A " corbie messenger" was apphed to one who had been sent 
on a message, but who was slow in returning, or who did not 
return at all. 

In some districts ravens build their nests in the sea-cliffs. If 
they make short flights inland, it is taken as an indication of 
stormy weather ; but, if they make a strong flight inland to a 
considerable distance, it is a token of fair weather. 

The Magpie. 

The magpie was a bird of good or bad omen, according to 

If a magpie jumped along the road before the traveller, it was 
taken as a sure indication of the success of whatever was on 
hand. An old man, now gone for a good many years, used to 
tell that, when he was thriving and laying up money, the pyots 
used to hop along the road before him on the summer mornings, 
as he was carting home the winter store of peats. In other parts 
of the country to meet a magpie in the morning was unlucky.* 
'* Faune populaire de la France, vol. ii. pp. 139, 140 (11). 

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A magpie hopping near the dwelling-house was the unfailing 
indication of the coming of good news, particularly from a far 

In some districts the following was current about the magpie: 
" Ane's joy, 
Twa's grief, 
Three's a marriage. 
Four's death."* 

To have shot a magpie was the certain way of incurring all 
manner of mishaps.f 

It was sometimes called "the devil's bird," J and was believed 
to have a drop of the devil's blood in its tongue. It was a common 
notion that a magpie could receive the gift of speech by scratch- 
ing its tongue, and inserting into the wound a drop of blood 
from the human tongue. 

A proverb is taken from the magpie : " Ye're like the pyot, 
ye're a' guts and gyangals." It is applied to a person of slender 
form and much given to talking and boasting. 

The Redbreast. 
The redbreast was regarded with peculiar interest, and was 
encircled with a kind of mysterious awe. It was accountfed very 
unlucky to harm a robin, or to catch one. The robin was always 
associated with the wren, and the wren was styled the robin's 
wife. The following was a common saying : — 
" The robin an the wren 
Is God's cock an hen." § 

If the redbreast comes near the dwelling-house early in 
autumn it is regarded as an indication of an early and a severe 
winter. The bird comes where food and shelter are sure. 
" Little Eobin Redbreast sits on a pole, 
Wiggle-waggle wintin's tail macks him look droll." 

" Jeny Vran wiz lyin sick, lyin sick, lyin sick, 
Jany Vran wiz lyin sick npon a mortal time ; 

* Cf. F. L. Record, Tol. i. p. 8 (1) ; Henderson, pp. 126, 127; and Choice 
Notes, pp. 61, 89, 130. 
+ Cf. Henderson, p. 126. 

% Fav/ne populaire de la France, vol. ii. p. 139 (10). 
§ Cf. Henderson, p. 123, and Choice Notes, pp. 14, 90. 

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In cam Robin Redbreest, Bedbreest, Redbreest, 

In cam Robin Redbreest wi' sngar saps an wine ; 

Says, ' Birdie will ye pree this, pree this, pree this ? ' 

Says, ' Birdie will ye pree this, an' ye'll be birdie mine ? ' 

' I wLnna pree't tho' I shonld die, tho' I should die, tho' I shonld die, 

I winna pree't tho' I should die, for it cam not in time.' " 

The Laek. 
The lark was sometimes called by the name of " the Queen 
of Heaven's Hen," and, whatever might have been thought 
about robbing the nests of other birds, robbing that of the lark 
was looked upon as heinous guilt. Hence the rhymes : — 
" Liverockie, liTerockie lee. 
Don't berry me, 

Or else y'iU be hangit on a high, high tree, 
Or droont in a deep, deep sea." 
" Mailisons, maUisons mehr nor ten 
That hairries the Queen o' Heayen's hen. 
Blissins, blissins mehr nor thoosans 
That leuks on her eggies an lats them alane." 
Another version is : — 

" Bhssins, blissins ten 
That leuks on my nestie. 
An lats it alane. 
Mailisons, mailisons seven 
That hairries the nest o' the Queen o' Hearen." 

A weather proverb is drawn from the lark, viz. " As laug's the 
liverock sings afore Can'lemas, it greets aifter't."* The usual 
time when the lark begins to sing is about the 8th of February. 

A proverb, spoken to one who is always putting obstacles in 
the way of carrying out any plan by suggesting difficulties, is : — 
" (rehn the lift wir t' fa' an smore the liverocks, fahr wid ye get 
a hole t' sheet in yir hehd." f Another proverb is : — " Live on 
love, as liverocks diz on ley." 

The Yellow-hammer. 

The yellow-hammer, yalla-yarlin,X yallieckie, had a very bad 

* Faune populaire de la France, vol. ii. p. 208 (7). 

t lUd. vol. ii. pp. 211, 212 (5). % Cf. Henderson, p. 123. 

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name, and was often persecuted Its character is summed up 
in the following lines : — 

" Half a poddock, half a tead, 
Half a drap a dell's bleed, 
In a May morning." 

The Cook. 

The cock was called a prophet. The crowing on the threshold 
indicated the arrival of strangers.* 

A cock crowing on the roost before midnight was heard with 

dread. It was regarded as an omen of death if, on inspection, it 

■was found that the bird's feet, comb, and wattles were cold. He 

was looking towards the quarter where the death would take 

• place. f 

The cock was believed to have the power of seeing evil spii'its, 
the enemies of man. In many old houses the poultry s^t on 
roosts over the part of the kitchen where a sujDply of peats was 
kept at hand for fuel. The cock has been seen of a winter even- 
ing to come down from his perch, and close in conflict with an 
enemy unseen with human eyes, and fight on the kitchen floor, 
now backward as if beaten, now forward as if overcoming his" 
enemy, while the inmates were looking on in silent fear. At last 
the foul spirit was beaten off, the cock mounted his roost, crowed 
victory, and the household breathed freely and with thankful 
hearts. An unseen enemy had beeii vanquished, and put to flight. 

The cock played a considerable part in the cure of epilepsy. 
One cure was to bury alive a cock, a black one if he could be 
got, below the bed on which the patient slept. J Another cure 
was the following: — A live cock, the parings of the patient's 
nails, a lock of hair, and ashes from the four corners of the 
hearth, were buried together in a hole dug on the spot on which 
the afflicted flrst fell smitten by the disease. 

When a cock reached the age of seven years he was believed 
to lay a small egg, from which issued, if hatched, a most deadly 
serpent called a " cockatrix." 

* aioiee Notes, pp. 13, 189. f Cf. Henderaon, p. 49. f Ihid. p. 147. 

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animal amd plant superstitions. 141 

The Hen. 
When a farm stocking was dispersed by public auction, the 
hens were not sold. It was deemed unlucky to sell the poultry. 
They were given away to friends and neighbours. 

Hens dying in numbers at a farm was an omen of the cattle 
dying within a short time. 

The crowing of a hen was an indication of the death of a 
member of the family in the course of not a long time. She 
was put to death at once. Hence the proverb, " Whis'lin 
maidens an erawin hens is nae chancy."* 

On no account must eggs be sold after sunset, f 
It was a common notion that small short hen-eggs produced 
female birds, and long eggs, male birds. 

A hen ought to be set on an odd number of eggs ; if not, 
many, if not all of them, become addled.f 

Along the seaboard there were goodwives who set their eggs 
when the tide was ebbing, so that hen-birds might be produced. 
Putting the eggs below the mother when the tide was rising 
secured male birds. Another mode of securing hen-birds was 
for the woman who placed the eggs under the hen to carry them 
in her chemise to the hatching -nest. To secure birds with 
crests, tappit birds, she had to put on a man's hat. That all the 
birds might be hatched much about the same time the eggs 
were put below the hen all at once, and with the words : — 
" A' in thegeethir, 
A' oot thegeethir." 
Another formula was in the following words : — 
" A've set a hen wi' nine eggs ; 
Muckle luck amon hir legs. 
Doups an shalls gang ower the sea, 
Cocks an hens come hame t' me." 

The eggs must be put under the hen after sundown. If the 
eggs were put under the mother bird before sundown, the 
chickens came forth blind. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 43, and Choioe Notes, pp. 13, 89. 

f Cf . Choice Notes, p. 57. 

f Cf. Henderson, p. 112, and Choioe Notes, p. 13. 

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Eggs sliould not be placed below a hen for hatching during 
the month of May. Hence the saying: — 

" May chnckens is aye cheepin." 

The month of March seems to have been thought the best 
month for hatching chickens, from the saying — 
" March cocks is aye crawin." 

If a hen or duck wandered from the hen-house to lay her 
eggs, and if she hatched them afield, it was the belief that, if 
whea found, she and her brood were taken from the nest and 
shut up, the brood, at least many of the birds, would die ; but, 
if they were left in the natural state, they would thrive and 
come to maturity. 

If one found a wild duck's brood, the ducklings were on no 
account to be touched with the hand. Touching the young 
birds with the hand carried death with it to them. 

It was believed that handling any bird's eggs in the nest made 
the bird desert " forhooie " them. The bird had the faculty of 
knowing that a human hand had touched them, and she left 
them rather than hatch young to be taken away. 

If hens and ducks preen themselves with more than usual 
care, foul weather is regarded as certain. 

The Dove. 

The dove was an emblem of all that was good. 

A dove flying round and round a person was looked upon as an 
omen of death being not far distant, and at the same time a sure 
proof that the one so soon to die was going to everlasting happiness. 

The dove was used in the cure of disease. Two live doves 
were taken, and each was split lengthwise. Flutterincv and 
bleeding, one was put to the sole of each foot of the patient, and 
allowed to remain there till next morning. Then they were taken 
"atween the sin an the sky," that is, at the moment of sunrise, 
to a spot M'here the dead and the living never pass, that is, to 
the top of a rock or precipice, and there left. A cure was 

* Cf. Choice Notes, pp. 218, 219. 
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The heart, liver, and lungs, torn from a live pigeon and 
thrust down the throat of an ox, or a cow, or a calf, were supposed 
to act as a laxative. 

The Golden Plover. 
It was a fancy that the golden plover hy its whistling in spring 
was giving advice to the farmer : — 

" Plew weel, shaave weel, harrow weel." 

The Moor-hen. 
The cry of the moor-hen is interpreted as 
" Come hame — come hame." 

The Lapwing. 
When the lapwing, "peeweet," "peeseweep," "wallop," kept 
screaming and flying round one, he used to call out : — 
" Wallopie, wallopie, weet (or weep), 
Harry the nest, an rin awa' wee't." 
or: — 

" Peesweet, peesweet, 
Herry ma nest an awa wee't." 

It was the common notion that the Irish had no goodwill to 
the lapwing, as it gave its eggs to Scotland and its dirt to 

The Wild Goose. 

In spring in some districts the flight of the common wild goose 
in its migration was anxiously looked for. The arrival and high 
flight of the flock were regarded as indications of fair weather. 

A weather rhyme current in Morayshire is : — 

" Wild geese, wild geese, gangin t' the sea. 
Good weather it will be. 
Wild geese, wild geese, gangin t' the hill, 
The weather it will spill." 

The Swan. 
Of the swan the common saying is that every time it looks at 
its feet it mourns. It does so hecause their black colour detracts 
from its beauty. 

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The FfiOG. 
If the fi'ogs spawn on the edges of ponds and in ditches that 
usually dry up in summer, it is looked upon as the harbinger of a 
wet summer. On the other hand if the spawn is all in the deep- 
est parts of the ponds, there is to be strong drought in summer. 
A cure for the red water, a disease in cows, was to thrust a 
live frog down the animal's throat. The larger and yellower the 
frog, the more certain and speedy was the cure.* 

If a frog is caught alive and its eyes licked with the tongue, 
the power of curing any eye-disease lies in that tongue. The 
cure is effected by licking the diseased eyes. 

The Toad. 

The toad was looked upon with loathing. It was believed to 
■have the power of defending itself by spitting fire, and one 
would have been very wary in handling it, lest its ire might be 
aroused, and it should vomit forth its poisonous fire. 

The toad carried a jewel within its skull according to the 
common belief. 

The tongue of the toad was of great efficacy in love matters. 
Whoever carried the dried tongue of a toad on his breast, could 
bend any woman to his will. 


The Dog-fish. 

To cure toothache, catch a dog-fish, take from the living fish a 
piece of the backbone, and return the fish to the water. The piece 
cut from the fish was dried and carrie'd on the person, or otherwise 
carefully stored up. If the fish lived, the dried piece of back- 
bone was an effectual cure; but, if the fish died, it had no virtue. 
There were some who prepared such charms, and gave them to 
those who stood in need of them. A certain .woman possessed her- 
self of this charm. It proved a complete cure. She told this to a 
• Cf. F, L. Record, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 81, 

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neighbour who was afflicted with toothache. The neighbour begged 
that which had wrought such a deliverance. It was given, and the 
woman carefully sewed it into a part of her underclothing, and 
carried it on her breast The toothache was soon cured. But so 
enamoured of the cure was the borrower, that she would not give it 
back to the rightful owner, though asked again and again to do so. 

The Eel. 
The skin of an eel tied round the leg or the arm was a specific 
against cramp when bathing.* 

The Heeking. 

When the herring-fishing is not succeeding the fishermen 
sometimes perform certain ceremonies to "raise the herring." 
Several years ago the following charm was enacted in Buckie : — 

A cooper was dressed in a flannel shirt, which was stuck all 
over with burs, and carried on a hand-barrow in procession 
through the village. 

It is not many years since the following procession passed 
through the streets of Fraserburgh : — 

One man, fantastically dressed, headed on horseback the 
procession. He was followed by a second man on horseback, 
who discoursed music on the bagpipes. Then came, on foot, a 
third man, carrying a large flag, and wearing a high-crowned 
hat, which was hung round with herrings by the tails. A crowd 
followed the three, and cheered most heartily. 

It is a common saying that a late harvest betokens a late 

The Haddock. 
The explanation of the black spots on each shoulder of the had- 
dock is that they are the marks left by the finger and thumb of Peter 
when he opened the fish's mouth to take out the piece of money 
to pay the tax for the Temple service for his Master and himself. 
The haddock was said to have spoken once, and its words 
were: — 

» Cf. Henderson, p. 28. 

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" Roast me an boil me, 

But dinna bum ma bebns, 
Or than I'll be a stranger 
Aboot yir hearth stehns." 
The saying about the spawned haddock, " harrowster," or 
" kameril," is that it is not good till it gets three dips in the 

" May flood." 

The Fluke. 

" Said the trout to the fluke, 
' Fu diz your moo crook ? ' 
' My moo was never even 
Since I passt Johnshaven.' " 
Another version heard on the Moray Firth is : — 
" The fitin said to the fluke 
' Fait gars your moo crook ? ' " 

The answer given is : — 

" It crooks because 
A' threw it at ma midder."* 

The Salmon and the Teout. 

The salmon and the trout among some of the fishing popula- 
tion were held in great aversion. The word " salmon " was 
never pronounced. If there was occasion to speak of salmon, a 
circumlocution was used, and it was often named after the tax- 
man of the fishings nearest the villages, whose inhabitants 
shunned pronouncing the name of the fish. Thus it would be 
called " So and So's fish." Sometimes it was called " The 
beast." In some of the villages along the north-east of Scot- 
land it went by the name of " The Spey codlin." 

In going past a salmon cobble in the harbour, a fisherman would 
not have allowed his boat to touch it, neither would he have 
taken hold of it either by hand or boat-hook to haul past it. 

To have said to a fisherman that there was a salmon in his 
boat, or to have spoken to him of salmon on his proceeding to 
sea, or to have spoken of salmon or even trout when at sea, 
aroused his anger and called forth stormy words. 

A trout or a salmon caught in the herring-nets, as it some- 
times, though rarely, happens, was regarded as a most untoward 
event, and was looked upon as the harbinger of the failure of 
the fishing during the rest of the season. 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 313. 
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animal and plant superstitions. 14 7 

The burying- beetle is called a " cancer," fi-om the belief that 
its bite produces that terrible disease. 

The lady-bird {Coccinella septempunctata), called in some 
districts " the king," is addressed in these words : — 
" Kings Doctor Ellison, 
Fahr ill I be mairrt till, 
East or Wast, or Norowa. 
Tack up yir wings and flee awa." 

Another version is : — 

" Ladybird, Ladybird, 
Flee awa hame, 
Yir house is on fire 
An yir bairns alane."* 

The ant was called " emerteen,", and when on being disturbed 
it was seen carrying off its eggs it was supposed to be its horse, 
and the following, words were repeated : — 
" Emerteen, emerteen, laden yir horse, 
Yir father and yir mither is ded in Kinloss." 

It was a common opinion that bees did not thrive with those 
who had led an unchaste life. 

The first swarm of bees of one who intended to be a bee- 
keeper must be got in some other way than by purchase. A 
bought swarm led but to disaster in bee-keeping. 

It was a belief that bees in their hive emitted a buzzing sound 
exactly at midnight, on the last day of the year ; that was the 
hour of the Saviour's birth. 

Moths were called " witches," and were looked upon with a 
sort of undefinable dread, as being veiy uncanny. 

Spiders were regarded with a feeling of kindliness, and one 
was usually very loath to kill them. Their webs, very often 
called " moose wobs," were a great specific to stop bleeding. 

A spider running over any part of the body-clothes indicated 
a piece of new dress corresponding to the piece over which the 
spider was making its way.f 

A small spider makes its nest — a white downy substance — on 
the stalks of standing corn. According to the height of the nest 
from the ground was to be the depth of snow during winter. 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 26, and Cfwiee Notes, pp. 39, 40. 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 111. 


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The green crab ( Careinas mcenas) is used as bait by the fisher- 
men. Its real name was never pronounced, especially during 
the time of putting it upon the hook as bait. In Pittulie, if it 
had to be named, it was called " snifiltie fit." 

The hair-worm ( Gprdius aquaticus) was believed to be pro- 
duced from the hair of a stallion's tail.* 

Omens were drawn from the black snail {Avion ater). If it 
was seen the first time during the season on any soft substance, 
the year would be prosperous and happy ; but, if it was on a hard 
substance, there was little but difficulties and trials in the way.f 


Trees and Plants. 

The cross is said to have been made of the wood of the aspen 
— " quaking aish." Hence the constant motion of the leaves. | 

The bluebell [Campanula rotundifolia) was in parts of Buchan 
called "the aul' man's bell," regarded with a sort of dread, and 
commonly left unpulled. In other parts it was called " gowk's 

When the broom and the whin were rich in blossom ■ it was 
looked upon as an indication of a good crop. 

There existed among many the same opinion regarding the 
blossom on turnips growing for seed. 

When there was an abundant crop of wild fruits, there was 
to be a severe winter. The good Father of all was providing 
for the " fowls of the air." 

When potatoes were dug for the first time during the season, 
a stem was put for each member of the family, and omens were 
drawn of the prosperity of the year from the number and size of 
the potatoes growing at each stem . The father came first, and then 
the mother, and then each member followed according to age. 

The puff-ball {Lyeoperdon hovista) is called "blin' men's 
een," and the dust of it is supposed to cause blindness, if it 
should by any chance enter the eyes. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 28. f m^- P- 116. J Ibid. p. 151. 

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The Days of the Week. 

ONDAY was accounted an unlucky day on which to 
begin a piece of work. There were parents who 
would not enter their children at school on this 
With regard to the weather, the saw is : — 

"A ham Monanday macks a linen week." 

Tuesday was regarded as a lucky day for entering on any new 

work, and for sending children to school for the first time. 

" Wednesday is aye weather-true, 
Futher the meen be.aul or new." 

Friday was specially avoided as the day on which to begin 
any piece of work. It was very unlucky for a ship to sail on 
this day.* 

A Friday with fine weather during a time of wet is called a 
" flatterin' Friday," and is supposed to indicate a continuance 
of wet weather. 

Saturday was looked upon by some as a day of luck to enter 
into any undertaking. 

A new moon on Saturday was looked upon as the forerunner 

of stormy weather : — 

" A Saiterday meen an' a Sunday's prime 
Gehn she cum ance in saiven year 
She comes in gueede time."f 

The Months. 

" Feberwai-ry sud fill the dyke 
Wi' black or fite, 
Aither wi' caff or 5trae, 
Or it gae." 

' Of. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 13 (50, 52), and vol. ii. p. 205. 
t Cf. Choice Notes, p. 288. 

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The moiitti of March is an important month in the North with 
respect to the preparation of the soil for receiving the seed. It 
holds a prominent place in folk-lore in the shape of proverbs 
and saws. One proverb is : — 

" A peck o' March dust is worth a king's ransom." 

Another is : — 

" A peck o' March dust is worth its waicht in goud." 

Other proverbs about March are : — 

" March sud come in like an adder's head, an gang oot like a peacock's tail." 
" March snd come in like a boar's head, an gang oot like a peacock's tail." 
" March sud come in like a lion an gang oot like a lam'." 

There are two versions of the rhyme about the " borrowing 
days " : — 

" March borrowed from April 
Three days, and they were ill ; 
The first it toz snaw an sleet, 
The second it was caul an weet. 
The third it was sic a freeze 
The birds' nibs stack t' the trees." 

" March said to April — 
I see three hoggs on yonder hill. 
In ye wad lend me dayis three 
I'll dee ma best t' gar them dee."* 

Of an April day, when there were alternate showers and sun- 
shine, with a good breeze and large clouds ileeting across the 
blue sky, it was said, "It's an April day, it's sheetin an ghntin." 
Of May there are various and contradictory sayings : — 
" May comes in wi' warm shoors 
An raises a' the grais ; 
An a' the floors o' May an June 
They do incraise." 

But there is another side to this picture of the lirst days of May; 
they were supposed to come accompanied by cold and wet, and 
hence they were called the " gab o' May," 

Crops in the North of Scotland depend a good deal on the 
weather in May, and this fact is embodied in several proverbs, 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 95. 

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" Him it leuks afs crap iia M.iy 

Gangs mournin for aye." 
" May makes the hay." 
" A misty May an a drappy June 

Pits the fairmer in gueede tune." 
" A misty May an a drappy June 

Macks the crap come in soon." 
" A misty May and a drappy Jeene 

Macks an eer hairst, an seen deen." 

Washing the face with dew gathered on the morning of the first 
day of May kept it from being tanned by the sun and becoming 

" If Candlemas day be clear and fair, 
The half o' winter is t' gang and mair; 
If Candlemas day be dark and foul, 
The half o' the winter is deen at Yule."f 

If the wind is in the north on the Eood-day, bad weather 

Tlie wind was said to blow during the quarter — tlie " raith " 
— in that direction in which it blew during the first day of the 

The Moon. 

It was unlucky to see the new moon for the first time through 
a window, or with empty hands. $ To have something in the 
hand on the first sight of the new moon was lucky, and indicated 
a present before the moon had waned. The money in the pocket 
must be turned when the first sight of the new moon was caught. § 
Some there were who, on catching the first sight of the new 
moon, kissed the one next them. 

The " mairt " or the pig, that was to be salted, must be killed 
when the moon was on the increase, else the meat would not 
keep well. Rennet made firom an animal killed except when the 
moon was waxing was of no use.|| 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 85, 86, and Choice Notes, pp. 18, 19. 

t Bid. p. 76, and Ohoiee Notes, pp. 180, 293, 294. 

% Cf. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 11 (28), and Clwice Notes, p. 175 (9). 

§ Cf. Henderson, p. 114. 

II Cf. F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 11 (29), and vol. ii. p. 32. 

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Fish hung in moonlight was supposed to acquire poisonous 

It was looked upon as dangerous to sleep with the moon 
shining on the face. The whole face, but particularly the mouth, 
became twisted. This was especially believed in by sailors. 
Sleeping in the moonlight might cause madness. 

The moon was supposed to exercise great influence in the 
ripening of the grain — as much, in fact, as the sun, if not more. 

A halo round the moon is called " a broch," and is thought to 
indicate a fall of rain or snow. Hence the proverb, "A broch 
aboot the meen 'ill be aboot the midden afore mornin." 

A small bright circle round the moon is called in some dis- 
tricts a " cock's eye," and is supposed to indicate unsettled 

"When the new moon is seen soon after her coming in, it is 
regarded as a sign of foul weather. 

When the new moon looks as if " lying on her back," that is 
also supposed to indicate foul weather. 

If the "old" moon is seen as it were lying in the bosom of 
the new, it is still regarded as a sign of a coming storm, as it 
was in days of old : — 

" I saw the new moon late yestreen, 
Wi' the auld moon in her arm ; 
And I fear, I fear, my master dear, 
That we shall come to harm." 

Another weather saw drawn from the moon is : — 

" Anld meen mist. 
New meen drift." 

Mock Sun. 

A mock sun is in some parts called a "ferrick," and is 
believed to indicate the coming weather according to its position 
— east or west of the sun, or " behind " or " before " the sun. 
Hence the saying : — 

" A ferrick afore 
Ayont the score; 
A ferrick ahin 
Y'ill shortly fin." 

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The Rainbow. 
When a rainbow appears the following rhyme is shouted at 
the top of the voice ;* — 

" Eainbow, rainbow, 
Brack an gang hame, 
The cow's wi' a calf, 
The yow's wi' a lam. 
An the coo 'ill be calvt 
Or ye win hame." 

Another version of it is : — 

" Eainbow, rainbow. 
Brack an gang hame; 

Yir father an yir mither's aneth the layer-stehn; 
Yir coo's calvt, yir mare's foalt, 
Yir wife 'ill be dead 
Or ye win hame." 

A shorter cry is : — 

" Eainbow, rainbow, 
Brack an gang hame, 
Yir father an mither 's aneth the grave stehn." 

Thunder, &c. 
During thunder it was not unusual for boys to take a piece of 
thin wood a few inches wide and about half-a-foot long, bore a 
hole in one end of it, and tie a few yards of twine into the hole. 
The piece of wood was rapidly whirled round the head, under 
the belief that the thunder would cease, or that the thunderbolt 
would not strike. It went by the name of " thunner-spell." 

It was a common saying in parts of Banffshire that the snow 
of the coming winter made its appearance — " cast up " — during 
harvest in the large, white, snowy-looking clouds that rise along 
the horizon. They were called " Banff bailies," and at all seasons 
of the year were looked upon as the forerunners of foul weather. 
When it was snowing heavily the following was repeated: — 
" Ding on, ding on, ding on drift, 
A' the fisher wives is comin fae the kirk." 

• Cf. Henderson, p. 24. 

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When snow is falling in flakes ("flags") the saying is that the 
folks in Orkney are plucking geese. 


A shower of rain was greeted with the words : — 

" Ding on, ding on daily, 
Ilky drap 't fill cap." 

A saw about rain with respect to the hours of the day is : — 
" Rain afore seven 
Fair afore eleven."* 

In wet weather, when a clear opening — called in some districts 
(Keith) " a borie " — appears near the sun at sunset, it is looked 
upon as indicating a continuance of foul weather. 

When rain comes from the South-west with a somewhat clear 
horizon, with the appearance that the rain would cease in a 
short time, it is called " a lauchin rain," and is believed to last 
for some time. 

When there was much dust blowing along the roads in 
summer, rain was regarded not far distant. The common saying 
was that the dust would soon be laid. 


On some parts of the Moray Firth the following was a 
weather-saw : — 

" Fin the mist comes f ae the sea, 
Ply weather it '11 be; 
Fin the mist comes fae the hill, 
Ye'll get wattir t' yer mill." 


When the wind is south and carrying large heavy clouds 
northward, the saw is that " the Earl of Moray will not be 
long in debt to the Earl of Mar." By this is meant that the 
wind will soon veer towards the north, and that there will be 
unsettled weather. 

* Choice Notes, pp. 292, 296. 

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Small clouds — "packies, pack-merchans " — moving eastwards 

from south, south-west, or west, indicate that the wind will soon 

blow from south or south-west. 

" An eyenin red and a momin gray 
Is the appearance o' a bonnie day." 

The Wind. 

If the wind is blowing from the south or south-west, and a 
cloud begins to appear in the north-west horizon, a sudden burst 
of a heavy storm is at hand ; and if any of the fishing boats are 
at sea not a moment is lost in making for land. 

If, in the evening, the west and north-west horizon become 
covered with cloud, with the wind to the south or south-west, 
if the wind remains in the same quarter, the following day will 
be fine, but if the wind shift to the north-west, or, as the saying 
is, go into the face of the cloud, stormy weather follows. 

The wind that blows from the west or north-west but towards 
evening veers to north is called "the wife it gangs oot at even." 
A breeze is at hand (Pittulie). 

Along the Moray Firth the fishermen call the noise of the 
waves " the song of the sea." If the song is towards the east 
the wind will shortly blow from east or south-east. If a " long 
song " is heard from the bar at Bans', the Avind will blow from 
the west. 

The swell that often comes before the storm goes by the name 
of " the dog afore his maister," and the swell that remains after 
the storm has ceased, "the dog ahin his maister." 

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EEAT preparation was made for the proper keeping 
of Christmas and New Year's Day. Three days 
were observed as holidays at Chi'istmas, and one if 
not more at the year's eve by tradesmen and 
labourers of all kinds. A blacksmith would on almost no con- 
sideration work on Christmas — in common language, " file his 
ahpron." If, however, any part of a meal-mill that required 
his service happened to break, the apron was put on, the fire 
kindled, and the broken part mended. It might be, human fife 
depended on the repairing of the mill. Any work absolutely 
necessary for the safety of life, particularly human hfe, was 
done without scruple. 

Grreat exertion was made to have every piece of work finished 
before Christmas ; and a work that required some length of 
time to do, and that could not be carried out between the time 
of beginning it and Christmas, was put ofp, if possible, till after 
Christmas. If a work was begun between Christmas and New 
Year's Day, all speed was made to have it completed before 
New Year's Day. 

The whole time about Christmas and the New Year was given 
up to festivity to a greater or less degree. AH the straw for the 
cattle had to be in readiness, and for several weeks before 
Christmas an additional hour was given to the " flail." Food 
and drink of all kinds were laid in store. " Yeel " fish was 
bought. Sometimes this was done from fisherwomen who 
carried them over the country. Sometimes those in better 
circumstances went to the fishing villages, and bought the fish 
from the boat, carried them home, cured them, and smoked them 
on the kiln. The " Yeel kebback " had been prepared a long 

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time before, and the ale had been brewed more generously than 
usual, and was in its prime. Omens were drawn from the way 
in which the wort boiled. If the wort boiled up in the middle 
of the pot, there was a " fey " person's drink in the pot. Bread 
of various kinds, " bannocks," "soor cakes," "cream cakes," 
" facet cakes," " soft cakes," was stored up. At the baking of 
the Yeel bread a cake was baked for each member of the family, 
and omens of the lot of the one for whom it was baked during 
the coming year were drawn. If the cake broke, it was looked 
upon as foreboding death. If only a piece of it broke ofF, bad 
health was augured. It was a habit to keep part of the Yeel 
cakes as long as possible, and they have been kept for weeks 
and months. It was thought lucky to do so. It was esteemed 
very unlucky to count at any time the number of cakes baked. 
The saying was " there wis nae thrift in coontit cakes, as the 
fairies ate the half o' them." For a household to have wanted 
ale, or fish, or a kebback, was looked upon as a forerunner of 
calamity during the coming year. 

Every means was used to have some piece of new dress, no 
matter how small. The one who was so unfortunate as to be 
without such a piece of dress bore the name of " Yeel's jaad." 
Children were warned against crying on Christmas Day.* 

If a child did cry, it was said "to break Yeel's gird," and that 
there would be much crying during the year with the child. 

The first part of the festival consisted of " Yeel sones." This 
dish was prepared any time between Christmas Eve and an 
early hour on Christmas morning. Companies of the young 
friends of the household were invited to attend, and it was a 
common practice for some of them, after partaking of the dish 
in one house, to proceed to another, and then another, and another. 

Small basins or wooden "caps" or coga were ranged in a 
row, into which the " sones" was poured. Into one dish the 
cook secretly dropped a ring — betokening marriage ; into 
another, a button — the emblem of a single life ; and into a third, 
a sixpence — ^the token of widowhood. Each guest then chose 
a basin, a cap, or a cog. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 72. 

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In drinking the " Yeel sones," a small quantity had to be left 
in the dish. 

If the dish seemed to require longer than the ordinary time 
in its preparation, a late harvest or some disaster during it was 

The breakfast on Christmas morning was the best that could 
be afforded — milk porridge, creamy milk, butter, fish, &c. To 
have flesh for the Yeel dinner great exertion was made, as it 
was thought that the cattle would not thrive during the year if 
it was awanting. It was a custom not to sit down to the great 
dinner of the year till after sunset. The Yeel kebback was cut 
by the gueedeman. During the whole time of Yeel the diet was 
more generous than at other times. 

On Christmas Eve a few of the more sportive of the youth in 
the villages went along the streets, and besmeared doors and 
windows with sones. Others disguised themselves, and went in 
companies of three and four, singing, shouting, and rapping at 
doors and windows. The houses whose inmates were known to 
them they entered with dancing, antic gestures, and all kinds of 
dafling. They were called " gysers."* 

Balls were among the .amusements of the season. A bam, 
conveniently situated for the district and sufficiently large, was 
selected. It was swept as clean as possible, and filled up with 
seats round the wall — deals supported on all manner of supports 
— stones, turf, cart-wheel bushes, bags filled with grain, &c A 
plentiful supply of oaten cakes, biscuits, cheese, fish, ale, porter, 
whisky, and sugar for the toddy, was got, and committed to the 
care of a few of the " hehds o' the ball." 

Each young man selected his own partner, went for her to 
her own home, conducted her to the ball-barn, danced with her, 
saw to her comfort in every way, and when the ball was finished 
he guarded her home. In the intervals of the dance bread and 
cheese and different kinds of drink were carried round. There 
was generally present a woman to sell " sweeties," and the 
young men lavished their favours in these on their sweethearts 
and female favourites. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 66. 

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What was left over of money and provisions fell to the lot of 
one or two of the old and needy in the district. 

Masonic lodges in certain places held one or other of the days 
of Christmas as their " annual day." Before the annual day 
cam€ round, the lodges held many meetings for the admission of 
new members. On the annual day all the members turned out 
dressed in their best clothes, and .each donned his masonic 
paraphernalia according to his rank and office. A procession 
was formed, and the town or village was perambulated with 
music and flying colours amidst the admiring gaze of crowds of 
women and boys and girls. The " walk " was concluded by a 
dinner at the village inn, and sometimes by a ball and supper. 

The brute creatures were not forgotten in the midst of all this 
merriment. All the fourfooted animals of the steading were 
served with unthreshed corn for their first food. The " clyack 
sheaf," which had been carefully stored up by itself, was given 
to' the oldest animal of the farm, whether horse, cow, or 

In some districts the " clyack sheaf" was given to the mare 
in foal, if there was such an animal on the farm. 

In some districts this generous diet of corn was given on New 
Year's Day. 

A fire was kindled in each byre on Christmas morning, and 
in parts of the country the byres were purified by burning 
jimiper in them. 

Such as were envious of their neighbours' success, and wished 
to draw away their prosperity, creamed the well they drew 
water fi.-om. This act was beheved to be particularly efficacious 
in ensuring a rich supply of milk and butter to the one who had 
cows, and performed the act on the well of those who also owned 
cows. All the utensils used in the dairy were washed with part 
of the cream of the well, and the cows received the remainder to 
drink. This ceremony was gone through in some districts on 
the last night of the year. In a fishing village on the north-east 
coast of Aberdeenshire it was performed on the last night of the 
year, and a handful of grass was plucked and thrown into the 
pail containing the water. It was at the hour of midnight on 

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Christmas Eve Christ was bom, and it was at the same hour He 
performed His first miracle of turinng the water into wine. 

Nothing was carried forth from the house on Christmas 
morning until something was brought in. Water and fuel were 
the articles commonly brought in first. By some a handful of 
grass, or a small quantity of moss, "fog," was carried in, and 
placed on the hearth.* 

One would on no account give a neighbour a live coal to 
kindle a fire on this morning.f 

If the fire burned brightly on this morning it was taken as a 
token of prosperity during the coming year. A smouldering 
fire indicated adversity. These ceremonies and notions about 
Christmas were transferred in some places to New Year's Day 

The last thing done on the last day of the year was to "rist" 
the fire, that is, cover up the live coals with the ashes. The 
whole was made as smooth and neat as possible. The first 
thing on New Year's morning was to examine if there was in 
the ashes any mark like the shape of a human foot with the toes 
pointing towards the door. If there was such a mark, one was 
to be removed from the family before the year was run. Some 
climbed to the roof of the house and looked down the " lum " 
for the dreaded mark. 

The first fire was carefiilly watched. If a peat or a live coal 
rolled away from it, it was regarded as an indication that a 
member of the family was to depart during the year. 

Some there were who laid claim to divine what kind the 
coming harvest was to be from the appearance of the stars 
during the last night of the year. 

From the way in which the wind blew on New Year's Day 
auguries were drawn whether the crop of beans and peas would 
be good or bad during that year. 

Very often on New Year's Day companies of young men in 

twos, threes, and fours set out shortly after breakfast to "thigg" 

for an old woman, or an old man, or an aged couple, or an 

invalid that might be in narrow circumstances. Carrying a 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 74. f IHd. p. 72. 

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sack to receive the alms of meal and a small bag for the money, 
thej travelled over a good many miles of the district of the 
country in which they lived, getting a "bossiefu " of meal from 
this guide wife and a contribution of money from this other one. 
They usually sang the following song : — 

" The guide new year it is begun, 

B' soothan, b' soothan. 
The beggars they're begun to run, 

An awa b' mony a toon. 
Rise up gueedewife, an dinna be svveer, 

B' soothan, b' soothan, 
An deal yir chirity t' the peer, 

An awa b' mony a toon. 
May your bairnies n'er be peer, 

B' soothan, b' soothan. 
Nor yet yir coo misgae the steer. 

An awa b' mony a toon. 
It's nae for oorsels it we come here, 

B' soothan, b' soothan, 
It's for sae scant o' gear, 

An awa b' mony a toon. 
We sing for meal, we sing for mant, 

B' soothan, b' soothan. 
We sing for cheese an a'thing fat, 

An awa b' mony a toon. 
Fees naither cog nor yet the mutty, 

B' soothan, b' soothan. 
Bit fess the peck fou' lairge and lucky, 

An awa b' mony a toon. 
The roads are slippery, we canna rin, 

B' soothan, b' soothan, 
We maun myne oor feet for fear we fa', 

An rin b' mony a toon." 

Then came the question: "Are ye gueede for beggars?" 
" Sometimes," was the answer, followed by the question, " Fab 
are ye beggin for ? " " For so-and-so." The alms was then 
given, and then came the words of thanks, which were often 
improvised in a kind of doggrel. 

The young men were invited to sit down, and partake of the 
New Year's hospitality. The invitation was refused with the 
words, " Na, na, sittin beggars cumna speed." The whisky 
bottle and the Yeel l^ebback were forthwith produced ; or, if 

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whisky was refused, ale. The thiggars partook of the good 
things, and set out again. 

When the bag of meal became too heavy to be carried conve- 
niently, it was left in some house, and another bag was substi- 
tuted. By such an action as much meal and money were col- 
lected for many a poor old worthy as, supplemented by a small 
sum from the "peer's box," kept want from the door, and the 
heart of the receiver was filled with gratitude, and the hearts of 
the doers with a feeling of contentment. 

On the last night of the year the children, particularly in the 
villages, went into the houses asking their " hogminay." Some- 
times they joined in companies and sung the following ditty : — 

" Rise up, aul wife, an shack yer feathers; 
Dinna think it we are beggars; 
We're only bairnies comg to play — 
Else up an gee's wir hogminay. 
Wir feet's caul, wir sheen's thin, 
Gee's a piece an lat's rin. 
We'll sing for bread, we'll sing for cheese, 
We'll sing for a' yir orra bawbees, 
We'll sing for meal, we'll sing for maut. 
We'll sing for siller to buy wir saut." * 

Something was usually given to the children — " a piece," 
sweeties, or a bawbee, and away they ran in their innocent glee, 
shouting and singing in the full enjoyment of their strong joyous 

Eaffles formed a part of the Christmas and New Year's 
amusements. They were usually set on foot for behoof of some 
one in distress. An obliging farmer gave the use of his barn. 
It was swept and made all trig, seats around the wall, with a 
table in one corner. A fiddler was engaged. The goods to be 
raf&ed were all prepared — tea, sugar, tobacco, &c. &c. In due 
time the braw lads and bonnie lasses began to assemble. The 
whole was presided over by a few of the wise of the district, and 
two or three of them always sat at the raffle table dispensing 
justice. At the appointed hour dancing began. When each 
dance was finished the young man staked for his partner, and 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 6i, 65, 76. 
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she threw the dice with her own hand. If he was gallant he 
staked again and again. The stakes were of small amount Id. 
or 2d. An evening was passed in innocent fun, and good was 

Shooting-matches formed a great amusement. Such matches 
were set on foot chiefly for the benefit of a poor man or woman, 
or of an invalid in poverty. A sheep, or a pig, or a quarter of 
an ox, was bought and cut up into pieces of convenient size ; or 
a quantity of tea, sugar, and tobacco was purchased, and made 
up into parcels of two ounces for the tea and tobacco, and of two 
pounds for the sugar. Each piece of meat was put in at so 
much per pound, usually from a penny to 2d. above the current 
price. So many marksmen entered the lists for it, each paying 
his share of the price. The piece fell to the best marksman. 
The same mode was adopted with the other articles. In this 
way a considerable sum was left over, after paying the current 
price of the articles, for the benefit of the one in distress for 
whom the match was set on foot. 

The target was usually set up at the bottom of a brae for the 
sake of safety. When the match was finished, the boys, set free 
from school by the " Yeelplay," immediately set to work to dig 
for the balls. The lead so recovered was manufactured at times 
anew into balls ; but oftenest into " lead pikes " and " lead bull- 
axes " to rule the copy-books at school, as pencils were scarce, 
and ruled copy-books were not then in use. 

Children had their games of chance, as their seniors had 
their card-playing and their "dambrod" or "dams." They 
had three games in particular — "the totum," "nivey neeck- 
nack," and "headocks or pintacks." The stakes were pins. 
A plentiful supply of " spot " and loose pins was got. Great 
was the joy when the " Yeel preens " came from the shops, and 
anxiously was " Yeelday " looked for, that the games and the 
fun might begin. Everyone must have a " totum." Not 
content with gaming, the youngsters must trock "totums," 
giving pins in boot, sometimes, however, making a " fair swap." 
With thrifty provident children the totum was stored up after 
Christmas to serve for other years. 

M 2 

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164 CHlilSTMAS, NEW YEAll'S DAY, &C. 

Card-playing received a foil share of attention, and the gaming 
was for the most part for money, or " in earnest." The play 
was carried on during night, till an early hour in the morning, 
either in private houses, or in taverns, or roadside inns, and by 
many night after night. When the play was carried on in a 
tavern, so much money was deducted at every game from the 
" pull " to buy whiskj^, or, as it was expressed, " for the gueede 
o' the hoose." The mutchkin stoup stood on the table, and each 
player had a glass, which was replenished from the stoup as it 
was emptied. When the stoup itself was emptied, it was again 
filled. Bread and cheese or fish were supplied in abundance by 
the host or hostess, without additional charge. So passed the 
night, and by morning many of the players felt both their heads 
and their pockets lighter. 

In parts of Buchan it was deemed unlucky to spend money 
in any form on " Hansel Monandy." Some went so far as not 
to give the smallest thing away. If money was spent, or any- 
thing given away, the luck of the year fled with the money or 
the gift. In other districts (Banff) mistresses made small gifts 
to their domestics.* 

Some were in the habit of giving, on the morning of that day, 
a small quantity of unthreshed oats to the cattle and the horses 
on the farm. 


Faster Even, Brose Day, or Bannock Nioht. 

" First comes Candlemas, 
An syne the new meen, 
The first Tyesday aifter that's Festren's e'en. 
That meen deen, the neist meen fou, 
The first Sunday after that's Peace true." 

Every one must have a beef dinner on this day. If a farmer 
had not flesh for dinner on this day, the cattle would not thrive, 
and some of them would assuredly die before the return of the 

The chief dish of the dinner was brose made of the beef-bree. 
Into this dish was put a ring, and at times a button along with 

*' Cf. Henderson, p. 77. 
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the ring. The ring indicated marriage, and the button a single 
life. The one who got the ring must on no account make known 
the fact till the dish was finished. Whoever got the ring wore 
it till next morning, when it was given back to its owner. The 
dreams were carefully noted, and prognostications drawn from 
them regarding the prosperity or adversity of the coming year. 

In the villages parties of the young, each at times carrying a 
spoon, went the round of several houses to get their brose. 
There was placed on the table a large basin filled with the 
savoury food and reeking hot, and round it stood the young, 
eager and I'eady, with spoon in hand. When all was ready 
there was a rush, and each carried off a spoonful. Then another 
rush and another, amidst laughter and joke, till the basin was 

In the evening bannocks were baked. These bannocks were 
composed of beaten eggs, oatmeal, and milk, and were baked 
on "the girdle." In later times flour was substituted for oatmeal. 

Prior to baking the bannocks, the fortune of each of the 
unmarried present was read by some one skilled in such lore. 
Each chose an egg and gave it to the fortune-teller. She care- 
fully broke it in the middle on the edge of a wine-glass, and 
dropped the albumen into the glass, which contained a little 
water. From the figures made by the albumen in the water, 
the events of the future life were prognosticated ; and many is 
the time the prediction of this one's marriage has come true, for 
she was seen in the glass standing before the minister ; of this 
boy's becoming a minister, for so-and-so saw " a kirk wi' a 
steeple " in his glass; of this other one's death, {ot a winding- 
sheet appeared in her glass. 

The bannocks were baked in presence of all, and all took a 
hand in the work. One poured the unbaked mixture on the 
girdle, another turned the cake, another took off the cake when 
baked, another sat holding a dish to receive the baked cakes, 
and all were busy eating the cakes. The evening's amusements 
were concluded by the baking of the same ingredients into a cake 
of much thicker consistency than the others, which went by the 
name of the " sautie bannock." The one who baked it must on 

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no account utter a single word. During the process of baking 
every means was used to make the baker of it break silence. If 
the baker was betrayed into speaking, her place was taken by 
another. Into the cake was put a ring. When baked it was 
cut into as many pieces as there were unmarried persons present. 
Each chose a piece. The one who got the piece containing the 
ling was the first to enter into the married life. 

On no account was there any spinning on " the muckle 
wheel " on this day. 

On Eastern's day the men engaged in a game of "ball." This 
was done, as some allege, to prevent them from taking " a sehr 
back " during harvest. The game might be either by throwing 
the ball, or kicking it with the foot — football — or by striking it 
with " the club " or " scuddie."* 

Cock-fighting was an amusement indulged in, particularly by 
boys at school. 

Valentine Day. 

On the evening of Valentine Day companies of the youug 
unmarried men and women met, and drew " valentines." This 
was done in the following way : — The names of all the young men 
and women in the neighbourhood were written on slips of paper. 
The slips of paper were carefully folded up. The sHps bearing 
the names of the young men were put into one bag, and those 
bearing the names of the young women were put into another. 
The young men drew from the bag containing the names of the 
females, and the young women drew from the other. The 
young man or young woman whom each drew was the " valen- 
tine." Of course there was much merriment, and sometimes 
there was a little disappointment if the wished-for " valentine " 
was not drawn. The slip of paper bearing the name was care- 
fully preserved by each, and put below the pillow to evoke 
dreams. ■[■ 

Peace Sunday. 

In some districts eggs were rolled on the Saturday afternoon 
preceding " Peace Sunday." Generally the young had been 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 77. f Cf. F. L. Record, vol. ii. p. 125. 

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collecting whin blossom to dye the eggs. In cold late springs 
there was the risk of not getting the desired blossom, and grave 
were the speculations among the young about the whin being in 
blossom in sufficient quantity to afford the dye. 

In other districts there was no rolling of eggs. An egg was, 
however, given to each member of the family for breakfast. 
The young strictly enjoined the older members not to break, as 
was usually done, the shells after eating the eggs. The shells 
on that day were reserved for boats, and, if there was a stream 
or pond at hand, the young hurried away after breakfast to sail 
their shells. If there was neither stream nor pond, a tub wa.= 
filled with water that the egg-boats might be sailed. 


In some districts fires were kindled on the 2nd of May, O.S. 
They were called hone-fires. The belief was that on that evening 
and night the witches were abroad in all their force, casting ill 
on cattle and stealing cows' milk. To counteract their evil 
power pieces of the rowan-tree and woodbine, chiefly of rowan- 
tree, were placed over the byre doors, and fires were kindled by 
every farmer and cottar. Old thatch, or straw, or furze, or 
broom was piled up in a heap and set on fire a little after sunset. 
Some of those present kept constantly tossing up the blazing 
mass, and others seized portions of it on pitch-forks or poles, 
and ran hither and thither, holding them as high as they were 
able, while the younger portion, that assisted, danced round the 
fire or ran through the smoke, shouting, "Fire! blaze an burn 
the witches; fire! fire! burn the witches." In some districts 
a large round cake of oat or barley-meal was rolled through the 
ashes. , When the material was burned up, the ashes were 
scattered far and wide, and all continued (iU quite dark to run 
through them still crying " Fire ! burn the witches." 


In other districts fires were lighted on Hallowe'en. Villagers 
and farmers alike must have their fire. In the villages the boys 

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went from house to house and begged a peat from each house- 
holder, commonly with the words, " Ge's a peat t' burn the 
witches." In some villages the boys got a cart for the collecting 
of the peats. Part of them drew the cart, and part of them 
gathered the peats. Along with the peats were collected straw, 
furze, potato haulm, everything that would burn quickly, all 
which were piled up in a heap, and set on fire. One after 
another of the youths laid himself down on the ground as near 
the fire as possible so as not to be burned, and in such a position 
as to let the smoke roll over him. The others ran through the 
smoke, and jumped over him. 

When the heap was burned down, the ashes were scattered. 
Each one took a share in this part of the ceremony, giving a 
kick first with the right foot, and then with the left ; and each 
vied with the other who should scatter the greatest quantity. 
When the ashes were scattered, some still continued to run 
through them, and to throw the half-burned peats at each other, 
and at times with no small danger. 

At each farm, as high a spot as possible, not too near the 
steading, was chosen for the fire. Much the same process was 
gone through as with the villagers' fire. The youths of one 
farm, when their own fire was burned down, and the ashes of it 
scattered, sometimes went to the neighbouring fire, and lent a 
hand in the scattering of its ashes. During the burning of the 
fire and the scattering of the ashes, the half-yearly servants on 
the farm, if they intended changing masters, sang : — 

" This is Hallaeven, 
The morn is Halladav; 
Nine free nichts till Martinmas, 
An soon they'll wear away." 

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iOUNTINGS-OUT" form a curious item of folk- 
lore, and seem to be common among different 
nations in a variety of forms. The following have 
been collected in Banffshire and Aberdeenshire. 
Those who wish to look more into this subject may be referred 
to a paper on the "Anglo-Cymric Score " in the Ti'ansactions 
of the Philological Society, London (volume for 1877-79, pp. 
316-372), by Mr. Ellis, one of the vice-presidents of the society. 
The following were in use in Fraserburgh: — 

" Eenrie, twaairie, tickerie, teven, 
AUaby, crockery, ten, or elaiven, 
Peen, pan, f uskj- dam, 
Wheedlum, whadlum, twenty-one." 

" Eetnm, peetum, penny pump, 
A' the laadies in a lump; 
Sax or saiveu in a clew, 
A' made wi' candy glue." 

" One, two, three, four, 
Tack a mell an ding 'im our." 

" One, two, throe, four, five, six, siven, 
A' that fisher dodds widna win t' haven." 

" Eerinnges, oranges, two for a penny, 
A'm a good scholar for coontin so many." 

" Ink, pink. 
Penny, stink." 

" Hetnm, petum, penny pie. 
Pop a lorie, jinkie, jye. 
An, tan, toap, 
Stan ye oot by 
ITor a bonny penny pie." 

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" Anerie, twaaric, tickerie, saiven, 
Hallabie, cockabie, ten, a belyven, 
Pin, pan, muskie, dan, 
Tweedlum, twadlum, twenty-one." 

" I saw a doo flee our the dam, 
Wi' silver wings an golden ban; 
She leukit east, she leukit west, 
She leukit fahr t' light on best; 
She lightit on a bank o' san' 
T' see the cocks o' Cumberlan'. 
Fite puddin, black trout, 
Ye're cot." 

" As I geed up the brandy hill 
I met my father — he geed wuU, 
Ee hid jewels, he hid rings, 
He'd a cat wi' ten tails, 
He'd a ship wi' saiven sails, 
He'd a haimmer dreeve nails. 
Up Jack, doon Tarn, 
Blaw the bellows, aul' man." 

" Mr. Smith's a very good man. 
He teaches his scholars noo an than, 
An fln he's deen, he tacks a dance 
Up t' London, doon t' France. 
He wears a green beaver wi' a snoot. 
Tarry eedle, ye're oot." 

" Endy tendy, ticker a been, 
I sent a letter to the Queen, 
The Queen o' Jerusalem sent it t' me, 
Ocus, pocus, one, two, three." 

" Eentie, teentie, tippenny bim. 
The cat geed oot to get some fun. 
To get some fun played on a drum 
Eentie, teentie, tippenny bun." 

" ' Mr. Mundie, foo's yir wife ? ' 
' Verra sick, an like t' die.' 
' Can she eat ony butcher meat ? ' 
' Yes; more than I can buy. 
Half a horse, half a coo. 
Half three-quarters o' a soo. 
She mak's her pottage very thin ; 
A pound o' butter she puts in.' 
Fite puddin, black troot, 
Ye're oot"- 

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The following flourished long ago in the parish of Tyrie : — 

" Eetum, peetum, jinkie, jie, 
Staan ye oot by." 

" Eetum, peetum, penny pie, 
Staan ye oot by." 

" Eetum for peetum, 
The King cam t' meet him, 
And dang John Hamilton doon." 

Pitsligo gives : — 

" Item, peetun, peeny pie. 
Pop a lorie, jinkie jye, 
Ah day doot, 
Staan ye oot by." 

Rathen gives : — 

" Anery, twaaery, tickery, seiven, 
Allaby, crackaby, ten an eleiven. 
Pin, pan, musky dan, 
Tweedletum, twadletura, twenty-one." 

The following were in use in Portsoy : — 

" Eerie, aarie, 
Biscuit Mary, 
Pim, pam, pot." 

" Enerie, twaarie, tickerie, ten, 
Allabie, crackabie, ten, or eleevin, 
Pim, pam, musky dam, 
Queevrie, quaavrie, English man." 

" Eerie, aarie, ackertie, ann, 
Eeelicie, faalicie, mixin, John, 
Queevrie, quaavrie, Irish man, 
Stinklum, stanklnm, buck." 

" Eetum, peetum, penny pie, 
Cock-a-lorie, jinky jye, 
Staan ye oot by 
For a bonnie penny pie." 

" As I geed up the aipple tree, 
A' the aipples stack t' me. 
Fite puddin, black trout, 
I choose you oot 
For a dirty dish clout." 

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" Eringies, orangies, 
Two for a penny, 
Come all ye good scholars 
That counted so many. 
The rose is red, the grass is green. 
The days are gane 
That I hae seen. 
Kettie, ray spinner, 
Cnm doon t' yir dinner. 
And taste a leg of frog. 
Mr. Frog is a very good man, 
He takes a dance up to France 
Noo an than." 

The foregoing was in use when the number to be counted out 
was large. 

" Yokie, pokie, yankic, fun. 
How do you like your potatoes done ? 
First in brandy, then in rum. 
That's how 1 like my potatoes done." 

In the following formula the syllable ca must be added to the 
end of each word : — 

" I wud gee a' my livin' 
That my wife were as fite an as fair 
As the swans that flee our the milldam." 

Keith furnishes the following: — 

" Anerie, twaarie, tickrie, ten, 
Epsom, bobsum, gentle men, 
Pim, pam, whisky dam, 
Feedlum, fadlnm, twenty-one." 

" Eerie, airie, ackertie ann. 
Hunches, bunches, English man, 
Back oot, back in, 
Back throw the heelie pin. 
Peter cam t' oor dooi-, 
Playin at the pipes. 
Cum a riddle, fizz oot." 

" Anerie, twaarie, tickerie, ten, 
Bobsie, mnnsie, gentle men. 
Ting, tang, muskie dam, 
Feedlum, fan, twenty-one." 

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" Heetum, peetam, penny pie, 
Pop a lorie, jinkie jye, 
Eadie, ootsido, 
Staan ye oot by." 

" Aueiy, twaaery, tickery seven, 
Halaby, clackaby, ten and eleven, 
Teish, tosh, maca bosh, 
Tid, taddle, tiddle, stink." 

Banff furnishes the following : — ■ 

" John, rod, tod, rascal." 

" Eenitie, feenitie, ficer, ta 
Pae, el, del, domina, 
Irky, birky, story, rock. 
An, tan, toust." 

" Eenitie, teenitie, tippinny bun, 
The eat geed oot to get some fun. 
She got some fun, 
She played the drum, 
Eenity, teenity, tippinny bun." 

" Ease, ose, man's nose, 
A potty fou o' water brose." 

" The moose ran up the clock. 
The clock struck one, 
Doon the moosie ran, 
Ickety, dickety, dog, dan." 

" Ane, twa, three, four, 
Mary at the cottage door 
Eating cherries ofE a plate, 
Eive, six, seven, eight." 

" Eerie, aarie, ecertie, ann 
Bobs in vinegar I began 
Eat, at 
Moose, rat, 

I choose you oot for a pennie pie, 

" ' Mr. Mungo, foo's yir wife ? ' 
' Very sick an like t' die.' 
' Can she eat any butcher meat 1 ' 
' Yes; more than I can buy. 

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Half a sow, 

Half an ox, half a quarter of a cow; 

She likes her porridge very thin, 

A pound of butter she puts in.' 

I choose you oot 

For a penny pie, put." 

" Tussle Beardie hid a coo 
Black an fite aboot the moo, 
Wizna that a dainty coo 
Belongt to Fnssle Beardie." 

" Fussle Beardie hid a horse; 
It hault the cairtie through the moss. 
Broke the cairtie, hangt the horse ; 
Wizna that a dainty horse 
Belongt t' Fussle Beardie." 

" Rob Law's lum reeks 
Eoon about the chimney-cheeks." 

" Rise, Sally Walker, rise if you can. 
Rise, SaUy Walker, an follow your gueedeman. 
Come, choose to the East, 
Come, choose to the West. 
Come, choose to the very one I love best." 

" As I gaed up the brandy hill 
I met my father; he geed will. 
He'd jewels, he'd rings. 
He'd mony fine things, 
He'd a cat wi' ten tails. 
He'd a ship w' saiven sails. 
Up Jack, down Tom, 
Blow the bellows, old man. 
Old man had a coat. 
He rowed aboot i' the ferry-boat ; 
The ferry-boat's onr dear. 
Ten poun' i' the year. 
I've a cherry, I've a chest, 
I've a bonny blue vest, 
I've a dog amo' the corn, 
Blawin' Willie Buck's horn. 
Willie Buck hiz a coo, 
Black an fite aboot the moo. 
It jnmpit our the Brig o' Muck, 
An ran awa fae Willie Buck," 

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" Anerie, twaarie, tickerie, teven, 
Hallaby, crackeby, tenaby, leven, 
Pirn, pam, musky, dam, 
Feedlum, faadlum, twenty-one." 

" Ees, aas, oos, ink, 
Peas, pottage, sma' drink, 
Twa an twa's a tippenny loaf, 
Twa an twa's it." 

" Humble, bumble, Mister Fumble, 
Three score an ten, 
Learn me to double a hundred 
Over an over again." 

" Black ash, fite troot, 
Eerie aarie, ye're oot." 

" John Smith, a folia fine, 
Cam t' shoe a horse o' mine. 

Shoe a horse, 

Ca a nail, 
Ca a tacket in its tail. 
Black fish, fite troot. 
Eerie, aarie, ye're oot." 

" Mr. Dunn's a very good man, 
He teaches scholars, now and than; 
And when he's done he takes a dance 
Up to London, down to France. 
He wears a bonnet wi' a green snoot 
Eerie, aarie, ye'er oot." 

" ' Mr. Murdoch, how's your wife ? ' 
' Very ill, and like to die.' 
' Can she eat any meat ? ' 
' Yes, as much as I can buy ; 

She makes her porritch very thin, 

Pounds o' butter she puts in.' 

Black ilsh, fite troot, 

Eerie, aarie, ye're oot." 

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|N days long ago very little, and many a time no soap 
was used in washing. Cow-dung was frequently 
employed in the scouring and bleaching of " harn." 
A thick ley of it was made, and into it the web was 
first put. It lay in this mixture for some time. This process 
was called " bookin." After being taken from the "book," it 
was washed as clean as possible, then boiled, and spread on the 
grass. It was turned, and soaked with water day after day till 
the strong smell of the "book" had left it, and it had become 
pretty white and clear. Another ley was made of the droppings 
of the poultry, and went by the name of " hen-pen." Another 
common detergent was stale urine, " maister." 

Once a year, in spring, there was the great yearly washing, 
when every piece of dress, every blanket, everything of bedding, 
and everything of cloth kind that could be washed, and required 
washing, were subjected to a thorough cleansing. A bank near 
the well, or a spot on the bank of a neighbouring stream or 
river or loch, was chosen. A hole was dug in the earth, and a 
few large stones were placed at the sides of the hole to confine 
the fire, and to serve as a support for the " muckle pot" or the 
kettle. A large fire of peat was kindled in this hole, and the 
pot or kettle, filled with water, was placed over it. Tubs were 
standing all round, some on stools for hand-washing the 
lighter articles that had to be washed by the hand, and some 
on the ground for washing by the feet the heavier articles, 
and of such as were more than usually soiled. From early 
morning till night the work went on, some busy washing 
with the hands, some treading with their feet, some spreading 
the washed articles to bleach and dry, watering them, turning 

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them ; and when dried, shaking them, folding them, and storing 
them up. Such of the articles as required more than one day 
to bleach and dry were left during night. To guard them from 
thieves a few of the young folks kept watch and ward, passing 
the night in song, or in telling ghost and fairy stories, or in 
listening to the sweet music of the fairies if the clothes happened 
to be near a fairy hillock, for the fairies were usually kind, and 
took delight in doing mortals good. 
A washing rhyme was : — 

" Her it washes on Monandaj' 
Gets a' the ook t' dry. 
Her it washes on Tyepday 
Is nae far bye. 

Her it washes on Wednesday, 
She is a dainty dame. 
Her it washes on Feersday 
Is muckle t' the same. 
Her it washes on Friday 
Hiz little skeel indeed. 
Her it washes on Satterday, 
It's jist a dnd for need." 

In washing, if the soap did not " rise " on the clothes, there 
was a " fey " person's clothes in the tub. 

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|HEN one entered upon a farm, it was usual for friends 
and neighbours to lend a helping hand. Aid was 
given in ploughing. A day was fixed, and each 
neighbour sent one or more ploughs according to the 
number he had. Goodly hospitality was not awanting at such 
times. But the kind offices of neighbours were not confined to 
ploughing the fields of the in-going tenant. They contributed 
at least part of the grain to sow the fields. The new tenant, 
along -with a friend, went from farm to farm, and got a peck or 
two from this one, a leppie from the next one, a hathish-eogful 
from the next one. This was called " thiggin the seed." No 
one, however, gave in this way any grain till he himself had 
some of his own fields sown. 

Thigging was not confined to the gathering of the seed by a 
new tenant. A crofter, with a bad crop, at times went the round 
of the country during harvest, and begged grain in the fodder. 
In later times this was done with a cart. Usually a few sheaves 
were given by each farmer and brother-crofter. The poor man 
collected in this way a quantity sufficient for his need, and was 
able to tide over his distress. 

It was only the higher and drier parts of the land that were 
cultivated. The low and wet parts were reserved for growing 
" rashes " and " sprots," which formed cattle-litter and thatch 
for the grain-stacks and houses. The land was not divided into 
regular and shapely fields. There was a patch here and a patch 
there in the middle of a tract overgrown with heather or whin 
or broom, and often choked up with stones. Even in the 
cultivated parts of larger size there was no regularity. They 
were twisted, bent like a bow, zig-zag, of all shapes, and cut 

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up by "baaks," into which were gathered stones and such 
weeds as were taken from the portion under crop. 

There was no fixed rotation of crops. Each farmer did as he 
thought fit. Here is one system. 

The lea was ploughed and sown witli oats. This crop was 
called the " ley crap." The next crop was also of oats, and was 
named the " yaavel crap." At times a second " yaavel " was 
taken. The land was then manured and sown with here. The 
crop which followed was the " bar-reet crap," and was of oats. 
Then came the second " bar-reet crap," and last of all the 
" waarshe crap." The land was then allowed to rest for an 
indefinite number of years, according to the fancy of the owner. 
It soon ran to a sward of natural grasses. 

It was not at all uncommon to leave a " rig " or two unsown for 
the wild oats to grow up. They came earlier to maturity than the 
cultivated, and thus furnished the staff of life for the time between 
the exhaustion of the old crop and the incoming of the new. 

Some left a corner uncultivated altogether for " the aul man," 
i. e. the devil, or spirit of evil. 

The plough was made of wood, and was of so simple and. easy 
construction that a man had no difficulty in making one in a 
day, or in even less time. 

The harrows were of wood, and the tynes of the same material, 
and for the most part of birch. The thrifty, foreseeing farmer 
often spent part of his winter .evenings in preparing tynes. 
When prepared they were hung in bundles on the rafters of the 
kitchen to dry and harden. 

Ropes were made either of hair, willows, bog-fir split up into 
canes, broom roots, or heather. 

On large farms the plough was drawn by twelve oxen, and 
was called a " twal onsen plew." Counting from the pair next 
the plough, the name of each pair was : — 

" Fit yoke, 
Hin frock, 
Fore frock, 
Mid yoke, 

Steer-draught o' laan, 


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The oxen were driven by the " gaadman." He carried a long 
pole, sharpened at one end, or tipped with iron, which he applied 
to the animal that was shirking his work. The " gaadman " 
usually whistled to cheer the brutes in their work. Hence the 
proverb to signify that much exertion had been made with poor 
results: — " Muckle fuslan an little red-laan." 

The oxen were yoked to the plough by a common rope called 
the "soum." The bridle of the plough bore the name of the 
"cheek-lone," to which the "fit-yoke" was attached by the 
" rack-baan." Hence the origin of the two phrases, " a crom 
i' the soum," and " a thrum i' the graith," to indicate that a 
hitch had taken place in the carrying out of an undertaking. 

With such slender-looking materials as a wooden plough and 
graith made of " sauch waans," one unacquainted with the 
strength of such was apt to look down upon the implement. 
Tradition has it that a Lord Povost of Aberdeen began, in the 
hearing of one of the Dukes of Gordon, to make hght of 
a "twal-ousen plew." The duke defended, and asserted that 
his plough would tear up the "plainstanes " of Aberdeen. The 
Provost accepted the challenge. A day was fixed. The duke 
hastened home, and had everything made of the best material, 
and in the strongest fashion. Oxen, plough, and graith, were 
conveyed to Aberdeen, with the Duke's best ploughman and 
most skilful " gaadman," On the day appointed, and at the hour 
fixed, the " twal-ousen plew " in all its splendour was on the 
spot. The duke and the provost, with a crowd of eager on- 
lookers, stood round. A small hole had been made to allow the 
plough to enter, and it was duly placed in it, and held firm by 
the iron grip of a stalwart Gordon, whilst the "gaadman" stood 
watching his team. The word was given to begin. The " gaad- 
man" struck up his tune and applied the " gaad "^ the oxen bent 
their necks, raised their backs, and tugged; but the stones 
remained immoveable. The strain was slackened, and the oxen 
drew breath. Again did the " gaadman " try his skill and cheer 
on the brutes. When the full strain was felt one of the fit-yoke 
shirked the pull. The Duke's keen eye saw what the " gaad- 
man " failed to see. It was the (tritical moment. Everything 

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depended on that ox. The duke shouted out " The bred t' 
Brockie." In an instant the " brod " was in Brockie's flank. 
Brockie bowed his neck, and curved his back. Down went the 
plough, away tugged the oxen, and right and left flew the 
" plainstanes " of Aberdeen before the Duke of Gordon's " twal- 
ousen plew." 

When the plough was "strykit," i.e., put into the ground 
for the first time in autumn or spring, to prepare the soil for the 
seed, bread and cheese, with ale or whisky, were carried to the 
field, and partaken of by the household. A piece of bread with 
cheese was put into the plough, and another piece was cast into 
the field " to feed the craws." 

When the seed was once taken to the field, it must on no 
account be taken back to the barn, if the weather broke, and 
prevented it from being sown. It lay on the field till the 
weather cleared up and the soil became fit for being sown, 
however long the time might be. 

Harvesting was done by the sickle, and eight harvesters, four 
men and four women, were put on each " rig." A binder and 
a "stooker" were appointed to each eight reapers. At times 
there were only two on each rig. Before commencing work on 
the harvest field, each reaper cast a cross on the ground with 
the sickle "to keep the wrist from being sprained." During 
a wet harvest the sheaves, after having the band drawn up to 
the ears, were set up on end singly to dry. This process was 
called " gyttin." The reapers when at work ^looked for a 
kindly salutation from the passers-by, and took it ill if such 
a greeting was not given. A common one was " Grod speed 
the wark." 

It was believed by some that a very mysterious animal, which 
when met with by the reapers among the corn had the appear- 
ance of a grey stone, but which could change its shape, lived 
among the corn. When met with, a small quantity of the crop 
was left standing around it, and the ears of grain only were cut 
off. This animal looks like the hedgehog. 

The " clyack " sheaf was cut by the maidens on the harvest 
field. On no account was it allowed to touch the ground. One 

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of the maidens seated herself on the ground, and over her knees 
was the band of the sheaf laid. Each of the maidens cut a hand- 
ful!, or more if necessary, and laid it on the band. The sheaf 
was then bound, still lying over the maiden's knees, and dressed 
up in woman's clothing. It was carried home in triumph and 
carefully preserved till Christmas or New Year morning. On 
that morning it was given to a mare in foal, if such was on the 
farm, and if not, it was given to the oldest cow. Some left a 
few stalks unreaped for the benefit of " the aul' man." 

When the " clyack " sheaf was cut, the reapers threw their 
sickles to divine in what direction the farm lay on which they 
were to be reapers the following harvest. The sickle was thrown 
three times over the left shoulder, and note was taken in what 
direction its point lay. The " best o' three " decided the question 
— that is, if the point twice lay in the same direction, the reaper 
was to reap the next harvest on a farm in that direction. 

The reapers on neighbouring farms always vied with each 
other who should have the crop first reaped. Those who 
finished first fired one or more shots into their neighbours' 

The best produce of the farm was served up for dinner on the 
day " clyack " was taken, if it was taken before the hour of 
dinner. If the cutting of the crop was finished after the dinner- 
hour, then the feast was served as supper. One part of the feast 
that could not be dispensed with was a cheese which was called 
the " clyack kebbaek." Like the " yeel kebback," it must be 
cut by ihe gueedman. The absence of this cheese from the 
" clyack " feast, or its being cut by another than the master of 
ihe household, would have been unpropitious. 

The one who took the last of the grain from the field to the 
stackyard was called the " winter." Each one did what could 
be done to avoid being the last on the field, and when there were 
several on the field there was a race to get off. 

The unfortunate " winter " was the subject of a good deal of 
teasing, and was dressed up in all the old clothes that could be 
gathered about the farm, and placed on the " bink " to eat his 

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When' all was safe and snug for the winter season, there was 
the " meel an ale " — that is, a feast in which a dish made of ale, 
oatmeal, sugar, with whisky, formed the characteristic dish. In 
some districts this feast was called " the winter." Commonly 
to it were invited the unmarried folks fi'om the neighbouring 
farms, and the evening was spent in " dance and jollity." 

One was not over exact in gathering from the fields all the 
scattered ears of grain. Birds had to be fed as well as man, and 
some of the bounties of Providence had to be left for the fowls 
of the air. 

The winnowing of the grain was done by the wind. The barn 
had two doors, the one right opposite the other, and. between 
the two doors, when the wind was suitable, the winnowing was 
carried on by means of riddles having meshes of different sizes. 
When fans were introduced, there was great prejudice against 
the use of them. The wind was looked upon as the means pro- 
vided by the Father of all for separating the chaff from the 
grain, and to cast it away and use artificial wind was regarded 
as a slur on His wisdom and a despising of His gifts. An old- 
fashioned man in the parish of Pitsligo, on seeing a neighbour 
proceed to winnow his grain with a fan, cried out : — " Eh ! 
Sauny Milne, Sauny Milne, will ye tak' the poor oot o' the 

It was the common saying that the produce of the land in 
each period of seven years was consumed within that period. 

The tradition was that, when mills for grinding grain into 
meal were first introduced, those sites were chosen to which 
water for driving the wheel flowed naturally. There must be 
no artificial embanking, and little or no turning of the water 
from its natural run. The site of the mill was fore-ordained 
by Providence. Man had merely to use his powers to find out 
the site. 

The wheel of the mill could be stopped by throwing into the 
race some mould taken from a churchyard at midnight, and the 
repeating the Lord's Prayer backward during the act of casting 
the mould, "the meels," into the water. 

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Cattle, like human beings, were exposed to the influences of 
the evil eye, of forespeaking, and of the casting of evil. Witches 
and warlocks did the work of evil among their neighbours' 
cattle if their anger had been aroused in any way. 

The fairies often wrought injury amongst cattle.* Every 
animal that died suddenly was killed by the dart of the fairies, 
or, in the language of the people, was " shot-a-dead." t Flint 
arrows and spear-heads went by the name of " faery dairts," 
whilst the kelts were called " thunderbolts," and were coveted 
as the sure bringers of success, provided they were not allowed 
to fall to the ground. When an animal died suddenly the canny 
woman of the district was sent for to search for the " faery 
dairt," and in due course she found one, to the great satisfaction 
of the owner of the dead animal. 

There were those who were dreaded as buyers, if the purchase 
was not completed by them. In a short time the animal began 
to " dwine," or an accident befell it, or death speedily followed. 
Such had an "ill-ee.":}; It was alleged that they were well 
aware of the opinion entertained of their power, and offered a 
price less than that of the market, fully aware that the seller 
would rather give the animal at the low price than risk a sale in 
the market, or no sale at all, for the same men were believed to 
prevent the sale to any other. 

One mode of an enemy's working evil among a neighbour's 
cattle was to take a piece of carrion, cut the surface of it into 
small pieces, and bury it in the dunghill, or put it over the Untel 
of the door. Such carrion was called " hackit-flesh." If disease 
broke out among the cattle of a farm, the dunghill was carefully 
searched for " hackit-flesh." If such a thing was found it was 
taken to a short distance from the "toon," and always to a spot 
above it, and there burned. 

If the "hackit flesh" was not found, and if it was divined, 

* Choice Notes, p. 38. f Cf. Henderson, pp. 185-7. 

% Chmce Notes, p. 257. 

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that the disease arose from the work of a witch or a warlock, 
the carcass of the animal which first died was burned. 

Not many years ago two farmers on the north-east coast of 
Aberdeenshire, one of whom bore the character of being "un- 
canny," as all his ''forebeers" had been, quarrelled over a 
bargain. A short time after, a horse belonging to the one who 
provoked the quarrel was taken ill and died. It was the " un- 
canny" man who had done the deed. Within a day of the 
death of the first a second was taken ill, and died. It was drawn 
forth from the stable to a convenient spot, and piled round with 
a quantity of peats. The heap of fuel was set on fire, and for 
several days the pile burned. 

Near the same place, but many years ago, a crofter's cow fell 
ill, and died. Not long after a second fell ill, and died too. In 
a short time the remaining cow was seized with the same disease. 
A " skeely " man wast sent for. He came, examined the cow, 
and told the owner that the cow would soon die as the other 
two had done. He then went into the kitchen and seated him- 
self on the " dies," that he might give further instructions. He 
told at the same time that all was the work of a near neighbour. 
There was, however, only one near neighbour, and the owner 
of the cows said it could not be that near neighbour, calling her 
by name. The man made no reply to this, but went on to say 
that a woman carrying a little black jar would soon enter, and 
ask for a little milk, which was on no account to be given. 
Scarcely had he finished giving this order, than in walked this 
near neighbour, carrying a black jar, and asked for a little milk. 
It was at once refused. She looked at the man of skill for a 
moment, and then seated herself on the " dies " not far irom 
him. While the conversation was being carried on, the woman 
with the black jar was trying to move nearer and nearer the 
man of skill. But he saw what she was aiming at, and he 
moved away little by little, always followed by the woman, both 
to all appearance unconscious of each other's movements. At 
last the man reached the end of the "dies," and the woman was 
coming always nearer. He jumped to the middle of the floor, 
and thus saved himself Had the woman laid her hand on him 
all his skill was gone. 

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The cow died. She was dragged away to a convenient spot, 
and burnt to ashes in accordance with the man's orders. 

About the year 1850 disease broke out among the cattle of a 
small farm in the parish of Kesoliss, Black Isle, Eoss-shire. 
The farmer prevailed on his wife to undertake a journey to a 
wise woman of renown in BanfPshire to ask a charm against the 
effects of the "ill ee." The long journey of upwards of fifty 
miles was performed by the good wife, and the charm was got. 
One chief thing ordered was to burn to death a pig, and sprinkle 
the ashes over the byre and other farm buildings. This order 
was carried out, except that the pig was killed before it was 
burned. A more terrible sacrifice was made at times. One of 
the diseased animals was rubbed over with tar, driven forth, set 
on fire, and allowed to run till it fell down and died.* 

When the quarter-ill made its appearance the "muckle 
wheel " was set in motion, and turned till fire was produced. 
From this virgin flame fires were kindled in the byres. At the 
same time, if neighbours requested the favour, live coals were 
given them to kindle fires for the purification of their home- 
steads and turning ofi" the disease. Fumigating the byres with 
juniper was a method adopted to ward off disease. 

Such a fire was called " needfyre." The kindling of it came 
under the censure of the Presbytery at times. 

" The said day [28 Februarii, 1644], it was regraited be Mr. Robert Watsone 
that ther vas neid fyre raysed vithin his parochin of Grange for the curing of 
cattell, eto. The bretherin thoght to referr the mater to the considerationn of 
the Provincial! Assemblie." 

" 28th Martii, 1649, Mr. Robert Watson regrated the kindling of neidfyre 
vithin his parochin. Referred to the considerationn of the Assemblie of course 
to be taken heirwith." 

"Penult Maij 1649, compeired parishoneris of Grange, con- 
fessed they ver present at the kindling of neidfyre, and did nothing but as they 
ver desired be James Duncan in Keyth. Also, they delated some of their owne 

elderis to haue been accessorie thereto all ordained to satisfie 

according to the ordinance of the Provinciall Assemblie, vith three dayes 
repentance in sackcloth." f 

The fore-legs of one of the animals that had died were cut 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 148, 149. 

j- "Extracts from |the Presbytery Book of Strathbogie," pp. 51, 104, 105. 
Spalding Club, Aberdeen. A.D. 1843. Cf. Henderson, pp. 167, 168. 

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off a little above the knee, and hung over the fire-place in the 
kitchen.* It was thought sufficient by some if they were placed 
over the door of the byre, in the " crap o' the wa." Sometimes 
the heart and part of the liver and lungs were cut out, and hung 
over the fireplace instead of the fore-feet. Boiling them was at 
times substituted for hanging them over the hearth. 

Transferring the disease was another mode of cure. To do 
this the carcass was secretly buried on a neighbouring farm ; 
but, as this act transferred the disease to the neighbour's cattle, 
it was seldom done. The animal was conveyed by night to a 
wood or a lone hill-side on a neighbouring proprietor's lands 
aiad buried. Sometimes the dead animal was buried in the 
bottom of a ditch dividing farms or proprietors' lands. It is not 
over forty years since a farmer in the parish of Keith, on the 
lands of the Earl of Fife, carted the carcass of an animal to a 
hill on the property of the Earl of Seafield, and there buried it. 
In doing this act all care had to be used to avoid detection ; for, 
if the actors had been caught in the act, they would have had to 
pay dearly for their deed. 

A mode of arresting the progress of disease on a farm was the 
place on the farm where the dead animal was buried ; it must 
be buried " abeen " the " toon " and not " aneth " it. 

Another series of cures was by draughts prepared in particu- 
lar ways. 

Let a new shilling be put into a pail or cog andwater poured 
over it; such water was considered of great efficacy in effecting 
a cure. 

A few years ago a farmer who happened to be in the seaport 
village of Portgordon was asked to visit and prescribe for a sick 
cow belonging to one of the villagers. He asked if anything 
had been done in the way of cure. " Oo aye," said the woman, 
" a ga' ir a drink aff o' a new shillin yesterday, in a think she's 
been some better sin seen." But the most noted medicine of the 
draught kind is furnished by Willox " stone " and bridle. This 
stone and bridle have been in possession of the family for 
generations. All the virtue lies in the stone and the bridle, and 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 167. 

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not in the possessor or operator. A small quantity of water is 
poured into a basin. The stone is put into the water and 
turned three times round while the words, " In the name of the 
Father, the Son, and the Holy Grhost," are repeated. The 
bridle is then dropped into the water and turned round in the 
same way, and with the same words. The water so treated has 
the power to cure all manner of disease.* 

To keep the witches at a distance there were various methods, 
and all of approved value. On bonfire night (1st May, o.s.) 
small pieces of rowan-tree and woodbine were placed over the 
byre doors inside the house. Sometimes it was a single rod 
of rowan, covered with notches. There is the well-known 
rhyme : — 

" The rawn-tree in the widd-bin 
Hand the witches on cnm in." 

Another and even more effectual method was to tie to each 

animal's tail by a scarlet thread a small cross made of the wood 

of the rowan-tree ; hence the rhymes : — 

" Eawn-tree in red-threed 
Pits the witches t' their speed." 


" Eawn-tree in red-threed 
Gars the witches tyne their speed." f 

When an animal was led away to market the besom was thrown 
on it to ward off all harm from witches, the "ill-ee," or "fore- 

The halter by which the animal was led went along with it 
when sold ; to have taken it off would have been unpropitious. 
It was taken off when the animal reached the byre door, and 
cast on the roof of the byre, where it was allowed to lie. The 
removal of it from the roof would have brought down misfortune 
on the beast that had been purchased. 

If the seller of an animal was in the least degree suspected of 
possessing uncanny powers, the buyer made the sign of the cross 
on the animal's side, " to keep a's ain." This M-as done in an 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 163-166. 

t Cf. Henderson, pp. 225, 226; Choice Notes, pp. 38, 39. 

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especial manner if the animal was a milch cow, as it prevented 
the seller from retaining the milk though he sold the cow. 
AVhen the bargain, was settled on, the buyer and seller struck 
hands, or, wetting their thumbs, pressed them together. Both 
■\\'ent to a tent, many of which had been j)itched on the market- 
green for the sale of refreshments, when payment was made, and 
the " blockan ale " drunk. The seller, on receiving payment, 
returned a " luck penny " to the buyer, a sixpence, a shilling, 
or a larger sum, if it was thought a " stret bargain." * 

The Dairy. 

The chief enemies of the dairy were the witch and the war- 
lock,! that had the power of drawing away the milk and the 
cream of the cows. There were various modes of doing so. The 
witch with hair streaming over her face and shoulders has been 
seen on her knees in the byres beside a blazing fire. Then she has 
been known to make the milk pour through the key-hole of the 
door or from the foot of the couple. J She has been observed to 
turn herself into a hare, mount on the cow's back, and sit for a 
time, and the milk has departed, whilst she never wanted milk, 
though she had no cow at all, or, if she had one, though she 
was "ferra." 

When a neighbour's cow, whose milk was to be taken, was in 
the act of calving, a pot was placed beside the fire by the witch. 
At the time the calf dropped fi'om the cow, of which the milk- 
stealer was informed by one in her service, by 
" Some deeylish cantrip slicht," 

the milk poured into the pot, and the milk of the cow could after- 
wards be drawn by the witch at any time, and at any distance. 

To prevent the milk from being taken away at the time of 
calving, the moment the calf dropped from the cow, its mouth 
was opened, and a little of the dam's excrement thrust in. If a 
witch had her pot beside the fire to draw away the milk, it was 

* Cf. Henderson, pp. 119, 120; Notes and Queries, 5th series, vol. ri. p. 6. 

t Cf , Henderson, pp. 183, 184. 

t Cf. Songs of the Russian Peo]>le, p. 391. 

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by this act perfornjed on the calf, filled with dirt instead of 

When the first milk was drawn from the cow after calving, thi-ee 
"strins " from each pap were milked through a finger-ring. A 
silverone was preferred about Tomintoul. Others putashilling into 
the cog. An old shilling, called a " cross't shillan," or a " crossie- 
croon shiUan," was in the possession of some families, and was 
preserved with great care. Those who had not the good fortune 
to possess such a treasure made use of a coin current at the 
time. Others put into the cog a horse-shoe nail. A stalhon's 
shoe nail had most eifieacy. 

A more elaborate method of preserving the milk fi-om the 
power of the witch was the following : — Three " strins " from 
each dug were milked through a marriage ring into a small pot. 
This quantity of milk was hung over the fire till it curdled. 
The curds were salted, put into a small piece of cloth, and 
hung up within the chimney so high that nothing would dis- 
turb it. 

Another mode of keeping the witch at a distance was to plait 
a piece of cord the contrary way, or with the left hand, and tie 
it round the animal's neck " atween the sin in the sky " at 

The first draught of water given to the co'W after calving was 
ofF a shilling. 

When the cow was driven forth for the first time after calving, 
the tongs or a piece of iron and a live coal were laid in the byre 
door, and the animal passed over them. In other places, instead 
of iron, fire and salt were used. If the cow trampled on the 
fire, by so much more efficacious was the charm. This ceremony 
of placing iron and fire or fire and salt in the byre door was 
observed by some with respect not to newly-calved cows alone, 
but to all the cattle when they were driven forth to grass in 

In other places the cow was taken from the byre with the "seal " 
on her neck. The witch had no power over an animal with the 
"seal" on its neck. 

To bring back the milk when taken away there were several 

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methods. The gueedewife when alone and with barred door 
took what milk the cow had, and put it into a pot along with 
a quantity of needles and pins, or even nails. She put on a 
large fire, and hung the pot over it. Before the lapse of a long 
time the guilty witch came to the window in agony, and with 
the prayer to be relieved, and the promise to restore the milk. 
Sometimes the cow's urine was substituted for the milk. Another 
method was to catch some of the animal's urine in a bottle, cork 
it tightly, and keep it. In no long time the milk-stealer made 
her appearance, confessed her wicked deed, and entreated to be 
relieved of the disease with which he had been seized.* 

A crofter in the north-east of Buchan bought a cow. He 
took her home, and everything seemed right and proper with 
the animal when tied up in the byre. But, when she was put 
to the pasture, she made straight to a large boulder that was 
near the pasture, tore up the earth round the stone, throwing 
it over her back and bellowing. It was with difficulty she 
could be dragged away from it, and with as much difficulty 
kept on the tether. When put to pasture morning after 
morning, she ran to the stone, scraped, and bellowed. At 
the same time her milk disappeared. A wise man was con- 
sulted. A witch had been at work, and the deed had been 
done beside the boulder. The cure was as follows : — The small 
quantity of milk still remaining to the cow was taken from her, 
put into a pot with eleven new pins — pins that had "never been 
in claith " — and boiled. This boiled milk was then poured round 
the foot of the stone. The cow never afterwards went to the 
stone, and her milk returned to its full flow. 

A man's cow on the north coast of Buchan fell ill. Her milk 
left her. She was under the spell of a witch. A wise man lived 
on the east coast of Buchan, and he had to be consulted. The 
owner of the cow, along with a friend, set out early for a con- 
sultation ; for, generally, on such occasions, two went. On 
arriving, they were received by the canny man with the greeting, 
" Cum awa', a wiz leukin for ye." The story of the cow was 
told him. He gave the owner a powder for the animal, and at 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 186. 

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1 92 FARMING. 

the same time enjoined the two men not to speak to any one in 
their journey homewards, and to go straight to the byre, and 
administer the powder to the beast. All this was carried out 
to the letter. The two men then retired to the dwelling-house 
to get food. When ono of the family shortly after entered the 
byre to see if the cow was dead, she was found standing, to all 
appearance in perfect health, and with the milk running from 
her. The gueedewife began to milk, and drew from the cow 
two and a-half large pailfuls of milk. 

A woman's cow was seized with a fit of lowing and restless- 
ness on the pasture. She was under the power of a witch. The 
woman went to the nearest wood, and cut a branch of rowan 
tree and another of ash. A cross was made from the rowan 
tree, and tied with a piece of red thread to the animal's tail 
, amongst the hair at its point. A small piece was cut off the 
ash-branch. Three slits crosswise were made in one end of it, 
and into each slit was stuck a pin, so that the pins crossed each 
other. This was placed above the byre-door on the inside. 

Another means to bring back a cow's milk, when taken away 
by a witch, was to pour a little of the milk that still remained 
on a boulder between the " screef an the stehn," that is, below 
the lichen growing on the stone. 

Another mode of doing so was to take the churn across run- 
ning water, dip it three times in the stream, and carry it back 
without speaking to any one. 

Sometimes it happened that a cow on her first milk gave a 
large quantity of it. After her second calf she gave almost none. 
The witch had been at work. The animal had to be sold. When 
sold, the reason for selling was told to the buyer. The animal 
was resold, and the milk returned to the second buyer. 

To prevent a cow from being " forespoken " it was the custom 
to draw water from the well on the morning of the first day of 
each " raith " (quarter) between the sun and the sky, pour it into 
a cog or pail over a new shilling, and give it to the animal as a 
draught. If a cow was not thriving, or if she was not giving 
the quantity of milk she usually gave, and there was a suspicion 
that she was forespoken, the suspicion must be put to the test 

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and the truth discovered. A little of the cow's milk was put 
into a pot with some needles and pins. If the milk boiled as it 
ordinarily does there was no forespeaking. If it boiled up like 
water the forespeaking was undoubted. To undo the evil the 
milking-cogs were washed with the stale urine of the forespoken 

If the cow's milk had been taken away, merely to discover 
who had done the deed, two ceremonies, both similar, were per- 
formed. A pair of trousers was tied over the animal's head, 
and she was driven forth from the byre between the sun and 
the sky. She went sti'aight to the house of the one who had 
taken her milk. In the other ceremony a mare's bridle was 
used instead of the pair of trousei's. 

If lumps appeared in the cow's udder after calving she was 
milked into a tin pail, an act which proved an effectual cure. 
Another mode of cure was to rub the udder with water heated 
by plunging red-hot iron into it. 

To increase the quantity of milk at the expense of a neighbour 
on the morning of the first day of each " raith " the dew was 
gathered off the pasture of his cows, and the milk utensils were 
I'insed with it. 

A method of increasing the quantity of milk without any 
injury to a neighbour was to boil "white gowans" {Chrysan- 
tJiemum Leucanthemum), and to wash all the milk utensils 
with the decoction. 

For milk to boil over the edge of the pot and run into the 
fire was very unlucky, and diminished the quantity of milk given 
by the cow or cows. To counteract the evil consequences salt 
was immediately thrown into the fire. 

The milk utensils were for the most part washed indoors. 
This was done to prevent the possibility of wild animals touching 
the milk, because, if they did so, the udders of the cows festered. 
Such was the custom around Tomintoul. If the utensils were 
washed in a stream or pond, great care was employed not to 
allow any of the water used in washing to fall back into the 
stream or pond. It was scrupulously thrown on the bank, and 
always in the direction up the stream. This was done lest the 


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frogs should swallow any particle of the milk, in which case all 
the milk became thick and stringy, somewhat like " poddock- 

The " ream-pig " or " ream-bowie " was never washed. 
Washing took away all the luck. A sixpence was always kept 
in it. A crooked one had most virtue. A frog was kept by 
some in it, and bore the name of " paddle-doo " or " gueede 
butter-gaitherer. ' ' 

A servant unacquainted with such a custom entered on the 
service of a gueedewife, who followed the habit of keeping a 
" paddle-doo." The first time the servant creamed the milk she 
observed the large overgrown frog in the "ream-bowie." She 
immediately seized it, and cast it forth on the dung-hill. After 
finishing her work, she told her mistress what she had founfl, 
and what she had done. She received a sharp rebuke, and was 
sent to search the dung-hill for the frog. The frog was found, 
carefully taken up, washed clean, and replaced. 

The cream was usually kept for a considerable length of time 
— for weeks, and even for months. There was at the bottom of 
the utensil in which the cream was kept a smaU hole into which 
was inserted a short tube, stopped by a pin. This tube and pin 
went by the name of a '' cock and pail " and served to draw off 
the thin sour part of the cream — the " wig." 

When the butter was being churned a crooked sixpence,* or a 
cross of rowan-tree, or a horse-shoe was placed below the churn. 
When one entered the house during the process of churning, the 
hand of the one who entered had to be put to the churn. This 
was done to show that there was no evil intended against the 
butter-making, and to do away with aU efiects that might flow 
from the " ill-e'e " or the " ill-fit." There were persons whose 
entrance was dreaded during the process of butter-making. 
If such did enter there was either no butter, or it was bad in 
quality, or less in quantity than it should have been, and got 
only after hours of churning. 

That the cow might calve during day, she was let " yeel " on 

Sunday.f When the calf fell from the cow it was on no account 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 183. f Notes andQuerics, 5th series, vol. vi. p. 109. 

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touched with the hand first. Such an act would have caused 
shivering in the young animal, and this shivering might have 
gone on to paralysis, and terminated in death. The human 
hand, stained with sin, brought about this result. Something 
must be between the animal and the human hand the first time 
it was touched — a little straw or the apron. Neither was it 
safe to lay the hand at any time on the calf's back.* 

When a oow was to be taken to market she was not milked 
on that morning. Such an act was unlucky, and would have 
hurt the sale of the animal. A case of this kind was prosecuted 
some time ago in i^.berdeen by the Association for Preventing 
Cruelty to Animals. The Sherifi" decided for the defendants. 

If a milch cow was sold in the byre the " seal " went along with 
her. This was done to prevent the seller, if he had the power, 
from retaining the milk, and a witch from taking it away on 
her removal to another byre. All the luck that should attend 
the beast went with the " seal," and all the evil influences to 
which she was exposed were warded off" by its going along 
with the animal. 

The "Hikd." 

The fields in many districts were unfenced, and the cattle 
had to be tended, "hirdit." The "bird" used a stick for 
driving the cattle — '' a club." If possible the club was of ash.f 
This was because, if it had to be used, which was often done by 
throwing, it was believed that it would break no bones, and 
would not injui'e the beast if struck. In some districts this club 
was ornamented with a carving representing "Jockie's plew." 
Tradition has it that at one time there was in use a plough 
dra,wn by thirty oxen. This plough was made of oak, of great 
strength, and with one stilt, having a cross piece of wood at its 
end for the ploughman to hold it by. Its work was lately to be 
seen on many moors in the broad curved ridges that went by 
the name of " Burrel Rigs." The carving on the "birdie club" 
was very simple ; it consisted of notches cut in a small piece of 
the cliib, smoothed for the purpose, to show in what way the 
oxen were yoked. " Jockie," as the ploughman was called, was 

* Cf. ibid. p. 109. t Ct Choice Notes, p. 24. 

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represented by a cross, as well as the two oxen before the last 
four. Here is the order in which the oxen were yoked : — 
" Twa afore ane, 

Three afore five, 

Koo ane an than ane, 

An four comes belire, 

Krst twa an than twa, 

An three at a cast, 

Double ane an twice twa. 

An Jockie at the last." 

In other districts the " hird " carved in notches merely the 
number of cattle in the herd, giving the bull, if there was one 
in the herd, a cross. 

Here is a tradition about a " hird " and his " club." A half- 
witted lad during " the '45 " was tending cattle on the haugh 
on which Duff House now stands, near the " King's Ford," in 
the river Deveron. A detachment of the royal army crossed the 
ford in boats. On reaching the haugh on which the cattle were 
grazing the soldiers seized the "hird." They examined his club, 
and found that the number of notches cut on it corresponded 
with the number of boats by which they had crossed the river. 
The simpleton was taken for a spy, and notwithstanding every 
kind of protestation of innocence and remonstrance he was con- 
demned to death, carried to a place near the churchyard of 
Boyndie, and there hanged against the gable of a house from 
tlie roof-tree that projected beyond the wall. 

Each animal had its name, and was trained to answer to it 
when called. 

Here is a rhyme those who watched the cattle used to repeat 
at the top of their voice on seeing each other's cattle wan- 
dering : — 

" Hirdie, dirdie, 

Blaw yir horn, 

A' the kje's amo' the corn. 

Here's ane, here's twa ; 

Sic a hird a niyir saw. 

Here aboot or far awa, 

. . . . dings them a'." 

The name of the " hird " whose beast was sti'aying M^as added 

in the last line. The last line sometimes took the form : — 

" Deel blaw the birdie's plaid awa." 
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new boat was always launched to a flowing tide, 
sometimes prow foremost and sometimes stern fore- 
most. When it was fairly in the water, whisky in 
free quantity and bread with cheese were distributed 
among those present at the launch. The boat was then named, 
and a bottle containing whisky was broken on the prow or stern, 
according to the way the boat had been launched. The following 
words were at times spoken before breaking the bottle : — 

" Fae rocks an saands 
An barren lands 
An ill men's hands 
Keep's free. 
"Weel oot, weel in, 
Wi a gueede shot." 

On the arrival of a new boat at its home the skipper's wife, 
in some of the villages, took a lapful of corn or barley, and sowed 
it over the boat. In one village, when a new boat was brought 
home, the skipper descended the moment the prow touched the 
beach, went for the woman last married in the village, took her 
arm, and marched her round the boat, no matter how far the 
water reached. 

A horseshoe was nailed to some part of the boat — generally 
to the mast. A " waith-horse " shoe was most sought after. 

The new boat was allowed to take the lead in leaving the 
harbour or shore the first time the boats of the village put to 
sea after its arrival. When it was fairly at sea the other boats 
pushed out as fast as possible ; sails were spread to the full, and 
strong arms were strained in plying the oars to overtake and 
outstrip the new craft. If it kept a-head, and reached the fishing- 
ground first, its character was established. When the new boat 

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returned from the fisliiiig-ground, in some of the villages the 
owner's wife gave bread and cheese to the men of all the boats 
that arrived from the fishing-ground after it. It is said that at 
times the new boat lingered so that most of the boats might 
reach home before it, and thus as little bread and cheese as 
possible might have to be given. 

A boat, that had been wrecked with the loss of life and cast 
ashore, was allowed to lie, and go to pieces. A fisherman of the 
village to which the boat belonged would not have set a foot 
in it to put to sea, and a board of it would not have been 
carried away as firewood by any of the inhabitants of the village. 
The boat was at times sold to a fisherman of another village, 
repaired, and did service for many a year. 

In some of the villages a white stone would not be used as 
ballast. In others a stone bored by the pTiolas was rejected. 
Such a stone bore the name of the " hunger steen." 

It was the custom in each village for an aged experienced 
man to get up in the morning, and examine the sky, and fi:om 
its appearance prognosticate the weather for the day. If the 
weather promised to be good, he went the round of the village 
to awaken the inmates. In doing this great attention was paid 
to the " first fit." In every village there were more than one 
to whom was attached the stigma of having an " ill fit." Such 
were dreaded, and shunned, if possible, in setting out on any 

There lived two such men in one village. Each knew his 
neighbour's fame, but he did not know his own. Both had got 
out of bed one morning to inspect the sky, and to prognosticate 
the weather, and to arouse the village, if the weather was thought 
to be favourable for going to sea. Both met, and both took 
fright, and returned each to his house, and the village lost a 
day's fishing. 

The boats belonging to two villages were one afternoon during 
the herring fishing season lying at anchor to the west of the 
larger village waiting till the time arrived for going to the 
fishing-ground. One of the boats outside belonged to a man 
who was reputed to have an " ill fit." When he came to go on 

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board his boat, he had to step across another boat or two. When 
he put his foot on the boat nearest the shore he was met with an 
oath and the words, " Keep aff o' ma boat, ye hiv an ill fit." 
The man drew back quietly, and turned to the master of the next 

boat, and, addressing him by his " tee name," said, " F , 

a'm sure ye'U lat me our your boat." Permission was readily 
granted. The boats put to sea. The only herrings brought 

ashore were in F 's boat ; it was the man with the '' ill fit " 

that gave them. 

In many of the villages there were no harbours, and the boats 
had to be drawn up on the beach. They had to be pushed into 
the water stern foremost. The prow was always turned seaward 
in the direction of the sun's course. 

A fisherman, on proceeding to sea, if asked where he was 
going, would'have put out with the thought that he would have 
few or no fish that day, or that some disaster would befall him. 
He might have returned under fear of being drowned if he went 
to sea. Sometimes such an answer was given as, "Deel cut oot 
yer ill tongue." When at sea the words, " minister," " kirk," 
"swine," "salmon," "trout," "dog," and certain family names, 
were never pronounced by the inhabitants of some of the vil- 
lages, each village having an aversion to one or more of the 
words. When the word " kirk " had to be used, and there was 
often occasion to do so, from several of the churches being used 
as land-marks, the word " bell-hoose " or " bell-'oose " was sub- 
stituted. The minister was called " the man wi' the black 
quyte." A minister in a boat at sea was looked upon with much 
misgiving.* He might be another Jonah. 

As it was the belief among the agricultural population that 
cows' milk could be taken away, so among the fishing population 
it was believed the fish could be taken away. This power of 
taking away the fish was in the eye, and such as had the power 
"glowrt the fish oot o' the boat" merely by a look. 

When it was suspected that the boat had been forespoken, or 
the fish " glowrt oot o' the boat," the boat was put through the 
halyards. This was done by making a noose or " bicht " on the 
* Choice Notes, p. 60. 

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halyards large enough to allow the boat to pass through. The 
halyard with this noose was put over the prow of the boat, and 
pushed under the keel, and the boat sailed through the noose. 
The evil was taken off the boat. 

It was not lawful in some of the villages to point with the 
finger to the boats when at sea ; if such a tiling had to be done, 
the whole hand had to be used. 

On no account must the boats be counted when at sea, neither 
must any gathering of men or women or children be numbered. 
Nothing aroused the indignation of a company of fishwomen 
trudging along the road to sell their fish more than to point 
towards them with the finger, and begin to number them aloud : — 

" Ane, twa, three, 
Faht a fishers I see 
Gyain our the brigg o' Dee, 
Deel pick their muckle greethy ee." 

When a boat was leaving home for another fishing station, as 
during the herring season, some had the habit of borrowing an 
article of trifling value from a neighbour, but with the intention 
of not returning it. The luck of the fishing went along with 
the article ; those who were aware of the fact refused to lend. 

In Buckie there are certain family names fishermen will not 
pronounce. The bann lies particularly heavy on Eoss. CouU 
also bears it, but not to such a degree. The folks of that village 
speak of " spitting out the bad name." If such a name is 
mentioned in their hearing they spit, or, in the vernacular, 
" chiff." One bearing the dreaded name is called a " chiffer- 
oot." If there is occasion to speak of one bearing such a name 
a circumlocution is used, as : — " The man it diz so in so," or 
" The laad it lives at such and such a place," or the " Tee-name" 
is used. If possible the men bearing these names of reprobation 
are not taken as hired men in the boats during the herring- 
fishing season. Men with the reprobated names, who have been 
hired before their names were known, have been refused their 
wages, when the fishing season closed, because the fishing was 
unsuccessful with the boats in which they sailed, and because 
the want of success was ascribed to their presence in the boat. 

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Neither would lodgings be rented during the herring season from a 
man that bore one of the names that were under the bann. " Ye 
hinna hid sic a fishin this year- is ye hid the last," said a woman 
to the daughter of a famous fisher who had just returned from 
Peterhead from the herring fishing. "Na, na; faht wye cud 
we ? " was the answer. " Oh faht hinert ye this year mair nor 
afore?" asked the woman. " Oh faht wye cud we ? Ye needna 
speer faht wye we cudna. We wiz in a ' chiffer-oot's ' 'oose ; 
we cudna hae a fiishin." The house in which the family lived 
during the fishing belonged to a man named Ross. 

In some of the villages on the east coast of Aberdeenshire it 
was accounted unlucky to meet one of the name of Whyte when 
going to sea. Lines would be lost, or the catch of fish would be 
poor. When a child was being carried to be baptised it was 
unlucky to meet one who bore the name of Whyte. 

It was accounted unlucky to utter the word " sow " or " swine " 
or " pig," particularly during the time when the line was being 
baited ; it was sure to be lost if any one was unwise enough to 
speak the banned word. In some of the villages on the coast of 
Fife, if the word is mentioned in the hearing of a fisherman, he 
cries out " Cold iron." Even in church the same words are 
uttered when the clergyman reads the miracle about the Gada- 
rene swinery. 

Haddocks were cleaned, split, and put in salt for a short time. 
They were then hung up in the chimney, over a fire of wood, 
and smoked or "yellowed." In later times the smoking of 
the haddocks was done in small houses erected for the purpose. 
In the early part of summer, when the haddocks are still some- 
what lean after spawning, many of them are sun-dried, and go 
by the name of " speldanes" or " spellans." Much of the skate 
is prepared by being pressed under heavy stones, and dried in 
the sun ; this forms " blaain skate." Cod, ling, and tusk are 
split, salted, and sun-dried, and in many parts still carried in 
creels. The haddocks were carried over the country for sale by 
the women. The creel was, and is yet, carried on the back by a 
strap round the shoulders in front. Below the creel is worn a 
plaid ; and the women of different villages have different 

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coloured plaids. Some have them white, some red with a black 
check, others blue with a black check. They left home by a 
very early hour in companies of tens and scores. As they pro- 
ceeded, one went off here, and another there, each to supply her 
own customers. The bulk of them went to the country villages, 
at which they commonly arrived at an early hour, in time to 
supply newly cured fish for breakfast. They often beguiled 
their long way — 10, 12, 15, and 20 miles — with song. In the 
villages the fish was sold for money, but in the country districts 
they were exchanged for meal, potatoes, aids, turnips, and, 
even if money were given, something in the way of bartei' had 
to be added. The creel was often carried home heavier than it 
was carried out. 

In the outward journey, if the weather was stormy, com- 
panies of the women took possession of the houses by the way- 
side, if the doors had been left unbarred. After the male 
inmates left for the barn to thresh, it was usual for one of the 
females of the family to get up, and secure the doors against 
their entrance. The railway has modified all this. 

The greater part of the cod and ling and other larger cured 
fish was taken by the fishermen in their large boats to the 
markets in the south of Scotland. On their return they brought 
mussels for bait, soap, and other family necessaries, and often a 
quantity of stoneware, of which each house generally possessed a 
large stock. Sometimes they brought such articles for friends 
and customers in the country. 

Among the fishermen of each village there was a strong 
contest on New Year's Day which boat should first reach the 
fishing-ground, " shot " the lines, and draw them, as it was 
thought that he who first " drew blood " on that day enjoyed 
more than an ordinary share of the luck of the village during 
the year. If the weather was such as to prevent the boats from 
putting to sea, those who had guns were out along the beach 
long before dawn on the watch for the first living creature they 
could wound or kill, so that they might have blood shed. 

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" Oh 1 c'est triste, et je haia la mort." 

HREE knocks were heard at regular intervals of one 
or two minutes' duration.* They might be heard 
in any part of the dwelling-house, on the entrance 
door, on a table, on the top of a " bun-bed," Their 
sound was quite ditferent from any other. It was dull and 
heavy, and had something eerie about it. A similar omen was 
the " dead-drap." Its sound resembled that of a continued drop 
of water falling slowly and regularly from a height, but it was 
leaden and hollow. Such sounds were heard at any time during 
night or day. Night, however, was the usual time when they 
were heard. They were heard first by one, and could not be 
heard by a second without taking hold of the one that first heard 
them. This was the case with all the sights and sounds that 
prognosticated death, and lasted for any length of time. 

The noise of the worm that eats the woodwork of houses, "the 
chackie mill," was looked on as presaging a coming death. f 

Before the death of one of the household there was at times 
heard during the night the noise as if something heavy were 
laid down outside the door of the dwelling-house. It ivas the 
sound of the coffin as it was laid down outside the door, before 
it was carried into the house. 

A murmur as of many human voices was sometimes heard 
around the door of the dwelling-house. It was the harbinger 
of the murmur of the voices of those who were to assemble for 
the funeral. 

A picture or a looking-glass falling from the wall portended 
a death. If one's portrait fell, death was not far off. 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 48. f Ihid. p. 45. 

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204 OMENS. 

A death was often made known by the light called a " dead- 
can'le." It was seen moving about the house in which the death 
was to take place, and along the road by which the corpse was 
to be carried to the grave. Its motion was slow and even. 
The light was pale-bluish, wholly unlike any made by human art.* 

A crop more than usually good foreshadowed the death of the 
goodman, and went by the name of a " fey-crap." 

The common tallow candle in burning often gutters, and the 
tallow runs over the edge and down the side of the candle. It 
soon hardens. When the flame consumes the candle, at times 
the little column formed by the gutter is left standing uncon- 
sumed on the edge of the candle. It is called a " coffin-spehl," 
and is looked upon with suspicion as portending a death in the 
family at no very distant period.f 

The apparition of the person that was doomed to die within a 
short time was seen wrapped in a winding-sheet, and the higher 
the winding-sheet reached up towards the head, the nearer was 
death. This apparition was seen during day, and it might show 
itself to any one, but only to one, who generally fell into a faint 
a short time afterwards. If the person who saw the apparition 
was alone at the time, the fainting-fit did not come on till after 
meeting with others. | 

Three di'ops of cold blood falling from the nose was the sure 
indication of the death of one very nearly related to the one 
from whose nose the blood fell. 

It was regarded as an omen of death, either of himself or 
herself, or of one nearly related, if one showed more than 
ordinary joy.§ 

If the sick person did not sneeze, the disease would end in 
death. Sneezing was accounted the turning-point towards 
recovery. || 

When one fell sick means were at times used to find out 
whether the sickness would end in death. Two holes called 

* Cf. F. L Record, vol. i. p. 53 (178) ; Notes and Queries, 5th series, vol. ix. 
p. 65. t Cf. Henderson, p. 48. 

% Ibid. pp. 46-48. § Choioe Notes, p. 123. 

II Notts and Queries, 5th series, toI. viii. pp. 221, 222. 

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OMENS. 205 

graves, the one the living, and the other the dead, grave were 
dug. The suiFerer was laid, without being told which was the 
living or which was the deaH grave, between the holes. If the 
patient turned with the face to the grave designed as the living, 
there would be recovery ; if in the opposite way, death would 
follow. The following extract from the Session Records of the 
Parish of CuUen (1649) gives a different mode: — 

"It was remembered that Marjorie Pulmer, halving a sick child, and desirous 
to know if the child sould live or die, digged two or three graves. On she called 
the dead grave and another the qnick grave, and desyred a woman (who knew 
not how the said Marjorie had designed the graves) to go with the child and 
putt him in on of the graves for shee beleved that if the child sould be putt in 
the quick grave that he would live, and if in the dead grave he sould die. Ther- 
for the said Marjorie being accused confessed that she did it out of ignorance be 
the information of a woman whom she knew not. Marjorie was debarred from 
the Sacrament by order of the Presbytery." 

In some districts there was a belief in a sound of a mysterious 
kind that was heard before the perpetration of any dreadful 
crime, as murder. 

A murder was committed at Oottertown of Auchanasie, near 
Keith, on the 11th January, 1797. Here is the tradition: — On 
the day on which the deed was done two men, strangers to the 
district, called at a farmhouse about three miles from the house in 
which lived the old folk that were murdered. The two strangers 
were suspected of being guilty of the crime. Shortly before the 
deed was committed a sound was heard passing along the road the 
two men were seen to take in the direction of the place at which 
the murder was perpetrated. So loud and extraordinary was the 
sound that the people left their houses to see what it was that was 
passing. To the amazement of everyone, nothing was to be seen, 
though it was moonlight, and moonlight so bright that it aroused 
attention. Near neighbours met, and discussed what the sound 
could be. All believed something dreadful was to happen, and 
some proposed to follow the somid. The more cautious, however, 
prevailed over the more fiery. One man, of the name of New- 
lands, and a man of great courage and strength, was with the 
utmost difficulty prevented from following in the wake of the sound. 
About the time this discussion was going on, a blaze of fire 
arose on the hill of Auchanasie. The foul deed had been accom- 

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206 OMENS. 

plished, and the cottage set on fire. By next day all knew of 
what the mysterious sound had been the forerunner.* 


When one was apparently struggling hard in the act of dying, 
or, as it was expressed, "hid a sair faieht," the " rock" was at 
times broken above the head, under the belief that when this 
was done the dying person's heart broke, and the struggle ceased. 
This action may be compared with the idea contained in the line, 
" Clotho coUum retinet, Lochesis net, et Atropos occat." 

At other times the dying person was removed from the bed, 
and laid on the floor of the apartment, as it might happen that 
there were wild fowls' feathers in the pillows or bed, at all times 
a cause of a hard struggle in death. This notion about wild 
fowls' feathers did not exist among some of the fishing popula- 
tion that used the feathers of all kinds of birds, except those of 
the pigeon. f 

In the very moment of death all the doors and windows that 
were capable of being opened were thrown wide open, to give 
the departing spirit full and free egress, lest the evil spirits 
might intercept it in its heavenward flight. The Esquimo have 
the same custom. | 

Immediately on death, a piece of iron, such as a knitting- wire 
or a nail, was stuck into whatever meal, butter, cheese, flesh, or 
whisky were in the house, to prevent death from entering them. 
The corruption of these articles has followed closely on the neglect 
of this, and the whisky has been known to become white as milk. 

All the milk in the house was poured out on the ground. § Li 
some fishing villages all the onions and butter were cast forth. 

The chairs, &c. in the house were sprinkled with water. The 
clothes of the dead were also sprinkled with water, and it was 
the common belief that they always had a peculiar smell. 

* Cf.. Henderson, pp. 129-136. 

f Cf. Henderson, p. 60 ; F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 59 (193), toI. iii. pt. i. p. 127. 
J Cf. Henderson, pp. 53-56 ; F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 60 (194), p. 102 ; awke 
iVofes, pp. 117, 118. 

§ Cf. F. L. Retford, vol. i. p. 101. 

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OMENS. 207 

If there was a clock, it was stopped.* If there was a looking- 
glass, it was covered with a white cloth,t as were also the 

All the hens and the cats i were shut up during the whole time 
the body was unburied, from the belief that, if a cat or a hen 
leaped over it, the person, who was the first to meet the cat or hen 
that did so, became blind, not perhaps at the time, but assuredly 
before leaving this earth. 

The neighbours did not yoke their horses, unless there was a 
running stream between the dwellings. In the fishing village 

of , on the north-east coast of Aberdeenshire, not a single 

spadeful of earth was moved within the village during the time 
the corpse was lying unburied. 

When the death took place a messenger was despatched for a 
Wright, wh6 hastened to the house of death with his " strykin 
beuird." The body was washed, and, after being clothed in a 
home-made linen shirt and stockings, it was " strykit " on the 
board brought by the wright, and covered with a home-made 
linen sheet. Many a bride laid up in store her bridal dress, to 
be made into her winding-sheet, and her bridal linen and bridal 
stockings, as well as her husband's, to be put on when life's 
journey was ended. 

When the eyelids did not close, or if they opened a little after 
being closed, an old penny or halfpenny piece was laid over the 

On the breast was placed a saucer or a plate containing a 
little salt, to keep the evil spirits away, because they could not 
come near Christ's savour of the earth. § 

To prevent swelling in the bowels, any small dish with a 
little mould was at times placed on them. If this had been 
neglected, and swelling made its appearance, a small green turf 
was cut, and placed upon it, when, it is alleged, the swelHno- 
immediately disappeared. 

A candle or two were kept constantly burning beside the 

* Cf. Henderson, p. 56 ; Choice Notes, p. 121. 

t Cf. Henderson, p. 56 ; Choice Notes, p. 121. t Cf. Henderson, p. 59. 

§ Cf. Henderson, p. 56 ; Choiee Notes, pp. 119-121, 174 (4). 

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208 OMENS. 

body. It has happened that the candle has been overturned 

and the grave-clothes set on fire and the body burned. This 

took place only in the case of those who were believed to have 

possessed during their lifetime more than human skill and 

power, which they had obtained at the price of their souls from 

the Prince of Evil, or of those whose lives had been more than 

ordinarily stained, either openly or secretly. Such an untoward 

accident was spoken of in whispers, and was looked on as the 

dai'k omen of the future state. 

In one instance, at least, the time of the death was observed : — 

" Gehn the gneedeman o' a teen 
Dee i' the fou' o' the meen, 
His faimily 'ill be rich 
Till the wardle be deen." 


The bodies of those who were drowned, but not recovered, 
were supposed to come to the surface of the water on the ninth 
day. It was the weight of the gall that kept the body at the 
bottom. On the ninth day the gall-bag broke, and the body, 
being relieved of the weight, floated.* 

A mode of discovering a body drowned in a stream or river, 
was to put a loaf into the water at the spot where the unfor- 
tunate fell. The loaf floated down the stream till it came above 
the body, when it began to, whirl round and round. 

If one committed suicide by drowning, it was believed the 
body did not sink. It floated on the surface. 


The opinion prevailed till not very long ago, and even yet 
lingers, that in a case of murder, if the murderer touches the 
corpse, blood flows from the wounds. 

The Lyke-wake. 

The coffin and grave-clothes were made with all becoming 
speed. When all were ready, a day and an hom- were fixed 
* Cf . Henderson, p. 59. 

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OMENS. 209 

for the " kistan " — that is, for laying the body in the coffin, and 
a few of the most intimate female friends and nearest relatives of 
the deceased were invited to attend. At the appointed time 
they came, usually dressed in mourning, and assisted in placing 
the body in the coffin, and in making suitable preparation for 
the funeral. The board of hospitality was spread, when the 
qualities and deeds of the departed formed the subject of con- 

To the other female acquaintances that had not been present 
at the " kistan," invitations were sent to come, and take the last 
look of the dead — " to see the corpse." 

The body was sedulously watched day and night, more par- 
ticularly, however, during night. The watching during the 
night was called " the lyke " or " the waukan." * 

A few of the neighbours met every evening, and performed 
the kind office of watchers. One of them at least had to be 
awake, lest the evil spirits might come, and put a mark on the 
body. The time was ordinarily spent in reading the Scriptures, 
sometimes by one, and sometimes by another of the watchers. 
Some of the passages usually read were the ninety-first Psalm, 
the fifteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, and the fifteenth 
chapter of I. Corinthians. Other passages were read besides 
these. All conversation was carried on in a suppressed voice. 

Sometimes the " waukan " was not so solemn. Practical jokes 
have been played upon the timid. Some stout-hearted one placed 
himself within the " bun-bed " beside which the dead lay, and, 
when those on whom the trick was to be played had entered the 
house, and taken a seat, he began to move, at first gently, and 
then more freely, and at last he spoke, imitating as far as possible 
the voice of the dead, to the utter terror of such as were not in 
the secret. 

There was a plentiful supply of new pipes and tobacco, pro- 
cured specially for the occasion, and hence the irreverent some- 
times spoke of the " lyke " as the " tobacco-nicht." 

Whisky was also freely given, and in many cases tea, or bread 
and cheese with ale were served about midnight, 
* Cf. Henderson, pp. 54-56. 
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" The storm that wrecks the winter sky 
No more disturbs their deep repose 
Than summer eyenlng's latest sigh 
That shuts the rose." 

|HE barn was cleared, swept clean, and fitted up with 
seats — deals placed ou anything and everything 
capable of supporting them. On the middle of the 
floor was placed a table covered with a table-cloth, 
at the head of which was set an arm-chair for the minister. On 
the table was a quantity of bread and cheese, as well as of cut 
tobacco, with a number of new tobacco-pipes. Beneath the 
table were bottles and jars of whisky, with ale. 

The people had been invited to the funeral, or " warnt," by a 
special messenger a few days before the funeral took place. On 
arriving, they were received by the nearest relative of the 
deceased, and conducted to the barn. Each, as he entered, if he 
was a smoker, laid hold of a pipe, filled and lighted it. When 
all arrived, and usually the arrivals lasted from one to two hours 
and even longer, prayer was offered up by the minister, and in 
his absence by an elder or any other that "had the gift." 
When the prayer was ended, the whisky was brought forward, 
and toddy was made in bowls, if the company was not very 
large, or if the friends of the departed were poor ; but, if the 
company was large and the deceased well-to-do, it was brewed 
in the firlot. There have been those who were famous for their 
joviality in their lifetime giving strict orders on their death-bed 
regarding the quantity of whisky to be used at their funeral 
obsequies. When the toddy was made and tested, all glasses 
were filled and handed round. They were emptied to the 
memory of the departed. Bread and cheese followed. The 
glasses were again filled and drained to the toast, " Consolation 
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BURIAL, 211 

to the friends of the deceased." Then came more bread and 
cheese, and a glass or two more of toddy. Such as preferred 
" a drap o' the raw geer," or ale, to the toddy, received it.* 
When all had eaten or drunken in a manner befitting the 
station and means of the dead, prayer was again offered ; not, 
however, always. It was then announced, " Gehn ony o' ye 
wis t' see the corp, ye'U noo hae an opportunity." The com- 
pany thereupon left the barn, and, one by one, went into the 
apartment of death, uncovered his head, and gently and 
reverently laid his hand upon the breast or brow of the dead,f 
frequently making a remark on the appearance of the body, as 
" He's unco like himsel," " She's a bonnie corp," or " He's 
sair altert; " or on the character of the departed, as " She'll be 
a sehr misst umman," or " He wiz a gueede freen t' mony ane." 
It was believed that unless the body was touched the image of it 
haunted the fancy. 

If the body was soft and flabby when the coffin-lid was closed, 
it was a sure indication that another corpse would at no distant 
period of time be carried from the same dwelling J 

When the last look had been taken by all the coffin-lid was 
closed. Before this was done part of the winding sheet, com- 
monly one of the corners, was cut off, and pi'eserved with tender 
care beside a lock of the hair of the dead one. Sometimes it 
was made into a napkin, which was worn only on the occasion 
of a "kistan," or oil a Communion Sunday. When all was ready, 
or, as it was expressed, " fin the beerial wiz reathy t' lift," two 
chairs were placed in front of the door of the dwelling-house, 
and the coffin was tenderly borne forth, and laid upon them. 
The spokes were then adjusted under it. The coffin was covered 
with the mort-cloth, or, if the friends of the deceased were too 
poor to pay for it, with a plaid. The coffin of a boy or a girl 
was often covered with a sheet, and a child's almost always. 
The coffin of a full-grown person was carried on spokes by eight 

* Choice Notes, p. 121 ; Notes and Queries, 5th series, vol. iv. pp. 326, 397, 
vol. T. p. 218. 
t Cf. Henderson, p. 57. 

t Cf. Henderson, p. 50; F. L. Siieord, vol. i. p. 51 (169), vol. iii. pt, i. p. 127. 

p 2 

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2]2 BURIAL. 

bearers, who relieved each other, not at regular intervals, but 
as fancy struck them, the one nearest the coffin retiring. In 
the Highlands the coffin was sometimes carried shoulder-high, 
as the more honourable mode of being borne to the grave. The 
"first lift ' ' was taken by the females of the family and near female 
relatives or friends that were present. 

In some of the fishing villages the coffin of a young unmarried 
woman was carried to the grave by her young companions, 
dressed in white, with a black ribbon round the waist.* 

The chairs were overturned as soon as the coffin was lifted ofi' 
them, and were allowed to lie, in some places till sunset, and in 
others till one of those that had attended the funeral returned, 
when they were lifted, and carefully washed. If not overturned, 
the spirit returned from the unseen world. 

On the funeral leaving — " the beerial liftin " — all the animals, 
such as the horses and cattle, belonging to the farm were loosed 
from their stalls, and driven forth. The funeral has been seen to 
be followed by the cattle in amazement, with wide nostrils, wild 
eyes, and much lowing. Such an occurrence was looked upon 
with awe, and was set down as an indication of brute sorrow 
and sympathy for the departed. 

The funeral procession on no account took bye-ways, or moved 
a foot from the common path, but moved along the " kirk-road." 
The road which the deceased had walked to Grod's house must 
be the road along which the mortal remains were carried to 
God's acre. 

In some parts the bellman went in front of the procession, and 
tolled a hand-bell, kept by the kirk-session for the purpose. In 
other places the church-bell was tolled as the procession neared 
the churchyard. 

When the coffin is lowered into the grave and properly laid 
each present takes off his head-covering. 

If the churchyard was at a distance, whisky was carried; 
and on the road was usually a fixed spot for resting and par- 
taking of it. At this spot there was in some places a big stone, 
called "the ristin stehn," on which the coffin was laid. Fame has 
* Notes and Queries, 5th series, vol. v. p. 364. 
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BURIAL. 213 

it that the quantity now taken in addition to what was formerly 
taken not unfrequently put not a few of the coffin-bearers into a 
state far from seemly, and that even old scores have been paid 
off by broken heads and faces. 

When the grave was again covered over with the green sod, 
whisky was in many cases partaken of, when each took his way 
home. A few of the nearest relatives and intimate friends of the 
dead returned to the house, where a dinner was prepared. 

The weather on the day of the funeral was most carefully 
observed. A shower on the mould of the open grave — the " meels" 
— was taken as an indication that the soul of the departed was 
enjoying happiness.* A hurricane told of some foul deed done, 
but never brought to light, or of a bad life, however fair to the 
eye, or of a compact with Satan. 

A coffin more than ordinarily heavy was remarked ; and there 
have been coffins of " a heavier weight than lead," which were 
with the utmost difficulty carried to the graveyard. Such a 
thing was spoken of with awe.f 

In B , the night after the funeral, bread and water were 

placed in the apartment in which the body lay. The dead was 
believed to return that night and partake of the bread and water. 
Unless this were done the spirit could not rest in the unseen 
world. This curious custom seems to throw light upon what 
have been called "food vases " and "drinking cups," found in 
round barrows and in the secondary interments in long barrows, 
supposed to be of the " bronze age " and of the ancient British 

A burial ought not on any account to be looked at from a 
window. The one that did so would soon follow. 

Peculiar horror was manifested towards suicides. Such were 
not buried in the churchyard. It is not much over half a 
century since a fierce fight took place in a churchyard in the 
middle of Banffshire, to prevent the burial of a suicide in it. 
By an early hour all the strong men of the parish who were 
opposed to an act so sacrilegious were astir and hastening to the 
churchyard with their weapons of defence — strong sticks. The 
" See p. 90. t See p. 136. 

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214 BUKIAL. 

churchyard was taken possession of, and the walls were manned. 
The gate and more accessible parts of the wall were assigned to 
picked men. In due time the suicide's coffin appeared, sur- 
rounded by an excited crowd, for the most part armed with 
sticks. Some, however, carried spades sharpened on the edge. 
Fierce and long was the fight at the gate, and not a few rolled 
in the dust. The assailing party was beaten off. A grave was 
dug outside the churchyard, close beneath the wall, and the 
coffin laid in it. Tlie lid was lifted, and a bottle of vitriol poured 
over the body. Before the lid could be again closed, the fumes 
of the dissolving body were rising thickly over the heads of 
actors and spectators. This was done to prevent the body from 
being lifted during the coming night from its resting-place, 
conveyed back to its abode when in life, and placed against the 
door, to faU at the feet of the member of the family that was the 
first to open the door in the morning. 

The self-murderer's grave was on the boundary of two lairds' 
lands, and was marked by a single large stone or by a small 
cairn, to which the passing traveller was bound to cast a stone. 

It was the prevailing idea that nothing would grow over the 
grave of a suicide, or on the spot on which a murder was com- 

After the suicide's body was allowed to be buried in the 
churchyard, it was laid below the wall in such a position that 
one could not step over the grave. This was done under the 
belief that, if a woman enceinte stepped over such a grave, her 
child would quit this earth by its own act. 

The instrument by which the unfortunate put an end to fife 
was eagerly sought after, as the possession of it, particularly the 
knot of the rope, if death was brought about by hanging, 
secured great worldly prosperity. This notion about the knot of 
a rope by which one was hanged did not attach simply to a 
suicide's rope, but to a criminal's. 

Still-born children and children that died without baptism 
were buried before sunrise, from the belief that, unless this were 
done, their spirits were not admitted into Heaven, but floated 
* F. L. Record, vol. i. p. 17 (67). 
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homeless through the regions of space. In some places they 
were buried in such a position that one could not step over their 


There is a great reluctance in burying the first body in a new- 
graveyard, and as great reluctance in leaving the old church- 
yard after a beginning of burying has been made in the new one. 
It is told that, when a graveyard on the east coast of Aberdeen- 
shire had to be in a great measure closed, nothing would induce the 
inhabitants of one of the villages of the parish to bury their dead 
in the new one. What was to be done ? A shoemaker, whose 
shop was the meeting-place of many of the people of the village, 
was equal to the difficulty. One night, when a few of the 
villagers were in the shop, the shoemaker announced that there 
were "yird swine" in the old graveyard. All were aroused, but 
hoped that what the shoemaker said might be a mistake. " No 
mistake," said the man, " I can show you one that was got in 
the very place." The cry was " Lat's see 't." Awaterratwas 
produced. "An' that's a yird swine, is 't, the creatir it eats the 
dead bodies ? " said the men, standing at a distance, and looking 
in horror on the abhorred beast. "Aye, that's the real yird- 
swine." The news spread like fire through the village, and 
many visited the shop to convince themselves of the dreadful 
truth. The fate of the old graveyard was sealed in that village.* 

Graveyards and all connected with them — the earth or "meels" 
and the gravestones, and the coffin and the mort-cloth — were 
looked upon with awe. Human bones were objects of dread, 
and there were those who would have left a house had human 
bones been in it. No one would have carried off a piece of the 
wood of a coffin that had been cast up in opening a grave and 
thrown into a corner of the churchyard, for it was a custom so 
to treat coffins after they had fallen to pieces on the grave being 
re-opened to admit new tenants. 

Many of the churchyards were reputed as haunted by ghosts 
— the ghosts of those who had committed some great crime, and 
had died without its being detected and without their revealing 
* Cf. Henderson, p. 121. 

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216 BURIAL. 

it, but who now could not rest in their graves till their souls 
were disburdened of the load, and they appeared nightly in hope 
of coming in contact with some living person bold enough to 
meet them, and to whom they could make known their sin, and 
to whom they could tell what to do for them to remove the load, 
and thus allow them to rest in peace in their graves. Such 
graveyards were avoided after nightfall, and such graveyards 
made many a benighted traveller take a roundabout way home 
if it lay before him in his journey. 

Those who sold themselves to the devil to acquire supernatural 
powers had to go to the churchyard at twelve o'clock at night, 
and in the silence of the night, in the abodes of the dead, make 
their infernal compact, and give their souls for the price. 

Those who wished to acquire the power of " arresting " man or 
beast on their journey, had to go to the churchyard, and, at 
twelve o'clock at night, uncover a coffin, and take from it one 
of the lid-screws, repeating at the same time the Lord's Prayer 
backwards. Such a screw screwed into a human or animal 
foot-print from left to right, with the repetition of the Lord's 
Prayer backwards, stopped the further progress of the man or 

The mould of the churchyard — " the meels " — was used in 

acts of sorcery. Thus " meels " taken at the hour of midnight 

from the graveyard and thrown into a mill-race caused the 

wheel to stop. The following extract shows another use to 

which " meels " were put : — 

" And anent Issobell Traylle, her consulting with Walker, the witch, shoe con- 
fessed the said witch bad hir tack ane moldewort hillock and mnild ont of the 
church yard, and putt it vnder hir gait twys, and that wold mack hir aill to sell. 
But shoe denyed shoe requyred it at the said witch, or that shoe practised it." • 

* " Extracts from the Presbytery Book of Strathbogie," p. 5. Spalding Club, 
Aberdeen. A.D. 1843. 

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A, I, the first personal pronoun 

Abeen, above 

Ahoot, about 

Ae, one 

Afore, before 

Ahin, behind 

Ai/ter, after 

Aipple, apple 

Alane, alone 

^mon, among 

Amo' among 

Ah, and 

J.««, one 

Aneth, beneath 

Aneuch, enough 

Anither, another 

Athegeethir, altogether 

Atween, between 

Aul, old 

Aul man, the devil 

Awa, away 

Ayont, beyond 

Back, backward 

Baird, the beard 

Bairn, a child 

Bait-pot, a pot used for boiling 
turnips with corn or barley 
dressings as food for horses 

Baith, both 

Banh-fou, when the banks of 
streams and rivers are full 

Bannock, a cake made of oatmeal 

and baked on a gridiron 
Bap, a small round loaf 
Barjit, barefooted 
Battenan, becoming stout and 

Bauk, the lower brace of a couple 
Bawbee, a halfpenny 
Beenie, a small bone 
Beerial, burial 
Behn, a bone 
Behst, a beast 
Ben, inward, towards the fireplace, 

as, cum ben 
Bench, a sort of open cupboard 

hung from the wall 
Beuk, to give the names of the 

affianced for the proclamation 

of the marriage - banns in 

Bibblie gauger, the nose 
Bibhles, mucus from the nose 
Bide, to dwell in 
Big, to build 
Birn, a burden 
Bit, but, except 
Bit, a piece 
Black, to grow black 
Black oil, oil made from the milt 

of white fish 
Bleed, blood 
Bleedy, bloody 

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Blin, blind 

Blissin, blessing 

Bocht, bought 

Bodie, a person 

Boggie, a small bog or marsh 

Bole, a small hole built in the 

wall of a house 
Bonnie, beautiful 
Bonnie things, ihe marriage clothes 

and ornaments 
Brack, to break 
Brak, to. break 
Brae, a slope 
Brae-fou, when the slopes are 

covered, or when the hollows 

are filled 
Bree, water in which anything is 

Breeks, trousers 
Breest, breast 
Broch, borough 
Brock, to spoil, to waste 
Brod, a goad 
Broo, the brow 
Brook, broke, past of brack 
Brook, spoken of sheep when the 

face is black or brown 
Broon, brown 
Bruckle, a kind of carex 
Buff, to beat 
Bun-bed, a bed made of wood like 

a large cupboard 
But, outward 
But ein, the best room in the 

Byke, the hook at the end of the 
crook by which pots, &o. are 
suspended over the fire 

Ca, to drive 

Caa, to name, to call 

Cadger, one who drives fish 

through the country for sale 
Caff, chaff 
Cairry, to carry 
Cam, came, past of come 
Can'le, a candle 

Can'le-gullie, a large knife used 
to split up bog-fir into candles 
Canny, skilful, careful; having 
more knowledge than ordinary 
Cap, a small wooden basin 
Carena, care not 
Carlin, an old woman 
Gattie, a small cat 
Caul, cold 
Caunle, candle 
Cheep, to chirp 
Chirity, charity 
Chucken, chicken 
Claid, to clothe, past claid, past 

participle claid 
Claith, cloth 
Clash, to tell tales 
Clash-pyot, a tale-teller 
Clatter, to chatter, to speak in- 
Clippan, a small piece of cloth 

cut off 
Clockin, applied to a bird when 

hatching eggs 
Clum, to climl) 
Codlin, a codfish 
Cog, a dish made of wooden staves 

and bound with hoops 
Connach, to make a muddle of 
Coo, a cow 
Coont, to count, to number 

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Coordie, a coward 

Coi'p, a dead body 

Craitir, creature, applied to every 
living being 

Crap, crop 

Crape, crept, past of creep. 

Craw, a crow 

Crawin, crowing 

Greesch, tallow 

Greenie-crannie, the little finger 

Crook, the small chain with a hook 
in the lower end that hangs over 
the fire from which the pots, 
&o., are suspended when cook- 
ing is going on 

Crosst sMlling, a shilling having 
on it the figure of a cross 

Cry, to bring forth a child 

Cyarlin, a big woman of rude 

Cudna, could not 

Dee, to do; to die 

Deed, dead 

Deel, devil 

Deem,, done, past participle of dee 

Ding, to strive, to surpass; to 

throw, to cast 
Ding on, to rain 
Dinna, do not 
Dirl, to quiver 
Dish-cloiit, a piece of cloth for 

wiping dishes 
Disna, does not 
Diz, does 

Doggie, a small dog 
Doo, a dove 

Doon, down * 

Doonie, down 

Doorie, a small door 

Doup, the end, bottom 

Dowie, doleful 

Dram, a glass of whiskey 

Drap, drop 

Drappy, rainy 

Dreeve, drove 

Drill up, to work steadily and 

Dud, a little piece of dress or 

Dummy, a dumb person 

Dwine, to waste away 

Dyvot, a thin turf used for cover- 
ing roofs, &c. 

Ee, eye 

Eely, oil 

Eely dolly, an oil-lamp made of 

two pieces or shells of iron 
Eemist, uppermost 
Een, eyes 
Eer, early 

Eest, used, was wont 
Eht, to eat 
Emerteen, an ant 

Fa, to fall 

Fae, from 

Fah, who 

Fahr, where 

Faht, what 

Faimly, family 

Fairt, afraid 

Fan, found, past of_^w, to find 

Fattenan, becoming fat 

Favse, false 

Fehenvary, February 

Feersday, Thursday 

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Fehr, fear 

Fehst, feast 

Fess, to fetch, to bring 

Ferra, applied to a cow not under 

Fet/, doomed to die 
Fey-crap, a crop betokening death 
Filk, which 

Filthy fa, ill-luck befall 
Fin, to find 
Fin, when 
Fir-can' le, a candle made of 

First-Jit, what is first met 
Fit, foot 
Fite, white 

Fite bread, wheaten bread 
Fitin, a whiting, the name of a 

Flech, to become spotted with 

Floor, a flower 
Fool, foul, dirty 
Forhye, besides 
Fore, forward 
Foreieers, forefathers 
Forenicht, the evening 
Forespeak, to bestow excessive 

praise, the consequence of which 

is to cause disease in the one 

so praised 
Fou, full 

FoucJc, folk, people 
Fou o' the meen, full moon 
Freen, a friend 
Fremit, strange 
Fuh, why 

Fun, found, past participle of j?h 
Furl, to whirl 

Fushing, a fishing 
Futher, whether 

Gai, the mouth 

Gae, to go 

Gairden, a garden 

Gaither, to gather 

Gang, to go 

Gar, to force, to compel 

Gee, to give 

Geed, went, past of go 

Geed wull, lost the way 

Gehn, if ; gin is another form 

Gehr, to become streaked 

(riVd, a hoop 

Girdle, the round piece of iron on 
which oaten cakes are baked 

Girnal, the chest that holds the 

Girss, grass 

Glaiss, a glass 

Glowr, to stare 

Gouchit, foolish 

Goud, gold 

Grais, grass 

Greeance, agreement, betrothal 

Greet, to weep; past, graf; past 
participle, grutten 

Green brees, an open cesspool 

Greethy, greedy 

Growan, growth 

Gueede, good ; gueedeman, good- 
man ; gueedewife, the mistress 

Gueede sake, for God's sake 

Gya, gave, past of g'c^ 

Hack, to cut 
Sae, to have 
Hail, whole 

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Haimmer, a hammer 

Hairst, harvest 

Half-wye, half-way 

Hame, home 

Han, hand 

Hanless, unskilful 

Hannie, a small hand 

Hapwarm, a comfortable piece of 

Ham, sack-cloth 
Harry, to rob 
Hathish, a small dry measure ; 

four in a peck 
Hattie, a small hat 
Hand, to hold 

Heeld, held, kept, past of Jiaud 
Hehd, the head 
Herd, to tend cattle; as a n., one 

who tends cattle ; also hird 
Hicht, height 
Hielanman, a Highlander 
Hiner, to hinder, to prevent 
Hirple, cripple; as a verb to halt 

in walking 
Hogg, a young sheep 
Hoosie, a little house 
Horsie, a little horse 
Huramil, without horns 
Hunn, a hound 

Ilky, each 

Im, him 

Incraise, to increase 

Intil, into 

Ir, her 

It, that 

Jimp, slender 

Jist, just, as an adverb 

Kehbaclc, a cheese 

Ken, to know 

Kintra, country 

Kirk-road, the road along which 

the worshippers go to church 
Kirsnin, baptism 
Kist, a chest 
Kistan, the act of putting the dead 

body into the coiSn 
Kittle, to tickle 
Kye, cows 

Loan, land, an estate 

Laan-marh, land-mark 

Lad, laad, a male sweetheart 

Laid, a load 

Laidie, a lady 

Lair die, a little laird 

Lairge, large 

Lang, long 

iass, a female sweetheart 

Lat, to let ; fe< oot, to enlarge 

Layer-stehn, a flat gravestone 

ZeJ, a large hurried draught 

Leearie, a liar 

Leuk, to look 

Licht, light 

Lit-pot, a pot used for dyeing 

-toon, a boy 

iowp, to jump 

Loupie, a short jump 

Lug, the ear 

Luggit, having ears 

Lum, a chimney-head made of 

wood ; the whole vent 
Lyhe, the watching of a dead body 

Ma, my 
Mailison, a curse 

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Mair, more 

Mdk, to mak 

Mairidge, marriage 

Maister, master 

Mairrit, married 

Maugre, in spite of 

Maun, must 

Maut, malt 

Meels, graveyard mould 

Meen, moon 

Meer, a mare 

Mehl-bowie, the cask that holds 
the meal for the household 

Melir, more 

Meht, meat, used in the sense of 
food, sometimes, feast; merry 
meht means feast of joy 

Misgae, for a cow to slip her calf 

Monanday, Monday 

Mony, many 

Moo, mouth 

Moofou, mouthful 

Moosie, a little mouse 

Muckle, miich, large 

Mutty, a small dry measure ; four 
in a hathish 

Myne, to remember ; to pay atten- 
tion to 

Nae, no 

Naither, neither 
Nappie, a small nob 
Nearie, near 
Neesht, next, the other 
Neist, next 
Neive, the hand 
Nestie, a small nest 
Nethmest, lowermost 
Neuk, a corner 

Nih, a bird's bill 
Nicht, night 
Nivver, never 
Woo, now 
Wout, cattle 

Oo, wool 

Oo aye, oh, yes 

Ook, week 

Oot, out 

Or, before 

Orra, spare ; orra bawbees, spare 

Oaer, over 

Fannie, a small pan 

'Fattie, a small pot 

Peat-neuk, a comer or other part 

of the house used for holding 

Feei; poor 

Peer-man, a candlestick 
Feer-page, same as peer-man 
Fiece, a piece of cake given to a 

Fistal, a pistol 
Fit, to put 
Pzf fae, to push away 
Flack, a small coin 
Pto, to plough; as a n., a plough 
Flinisan, furniture of all kinds 
Foother, powder 
Foddock, a frog 
Fottie, a small pot 
Free, to taste 

Frovidan, a marriage outfit 
Fuir, poor 
Ptm, a pound 
Fyock, a bag, a sack 

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Quarter, to lodge 
Quarferer, a lodger 
Queentry, country 
Quite, a coat 
Quo', quoth, said 

Raid, rode, past participle of ride 
Raip, a rope, commonly applied 

only to ropes made of straw or 

Raither, rather 
Bantle-tree, the beam over the 

fire from which the crook hangs 
Raskin, made of rushes 
Ream, cream 
Ream-bowie, a small barrel open 

at one end for holding cream 
Ream-pig, a jar for holding cream 
Redd, to open what is shut, or 

stopped up 
Reed, red 
Reef, roof 
Riclit, right 
Rin, to run 
Rinnin, running 
Roon, round 

Saands, sands 

Sae, so 

Saft, soft 

Sain, to bless in the name of God 

Sair, liaud sair, hold tightly 

Saitirday, Saturday 

Saiven, seven 

Sannie, Alexander 

Sauch, a willow 

Saut, salt 

Saiv, to sow 

Scrog, a rugged branch 

Seal, what binds cattle to the stall 
Selir, painful, grievous 
Sennin, sending 
Sens, the two men sent to bring 

the bride to be married 
Settle, a kind of sofa without any 

covering or stuffing 
Shaave, to sow 
Shall, a shell 
Shee, a shoe 
Sheelin coug, a wooden dish for 

holding the fishing bait when 

taken from the shells 
Sheen, shoes 
Shillicks, the dressings of corn 

and here 
Shoeie, a little shoe 
Shoor, a shower 
Shot, a catch of fish 
Shot-a-dead, killed by a fairy dart 
Shouther, the shoulder 
Sicker, sure, firm, steadfast 
Siller, silver; money 
Silly hoo, a holy cap ; the caul 

which some children have on 

their head when born 
Sin, the sun 
Skeel, skill 
Skull, an oblong basket with 

round ends and a round bottom 
Sma, small 
Sneaw, snow 
Sodger, a soldier 
Soo, a sow 
Spang, a long jump 
Speer, to ask 
Siaa, stole, past oi steal 
Stan, to stand 
Stap, to step 

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Star, a kind of carex 

Steed, stood, past of stan 

Steek, to close, to &hut 

Steer, a bull, an ox 

Stehn, a stone 

Stent, allotted work 

Stoup-fou, a full stoup or tankard 

Strae, straw 

Stret, tight; hard, when applied to 

a bargain 
Strin, as much milk as comes 

from a cow's dug by once 

pressing it 
Stryhe, to stretch; to lay out a 

dead body ; to put the plough 

into the soil for the iirst time 

after harvest 
Sud, should 
Swallit, swallowed 
Swypit, swept, past of swype 
Syne, then ; sinsyne, since that 


TacKt, a small iron nail with a 
broad head for driving into the 
soles of boots and shoes 

Tae, a toe 

Tack, to take 

Tak, to take 

Tap, top 

Tap-puckle, the grain on the top 
of the ear 

Taul, told, payed ; past of fell 

Tead, a toad 

The streen, yestreen (yester even), 
last night 

Thig, to beg 

Thir, their 

Thoosans, thousands 

Three-girded, bound with three 

Threw, twisted, past of thraw, to 
twist ; to thraw the moo at 
one, to make a wry mouth 

Throo, through 

Thunner, thunder 

Tippen, the hair that binds the 
hook to the line 

Tither, other 

Toon, town 

Tow, a rope 

Trance, a passage in a dwelling- 

Trushter, useless stuff 

Tung, tongue; hand yir tung,kBep 

Twa, two 

Twal owsen plew, a plough drawn 
by twelve oxen 

Tyesday, Tuesday 

Umman, woman 
Uncanny, dangerous 
Unceevil, uncivil 

Unco, very before an adjective, 
as unco caul, very cold 

Vrang, wrong 

Vrang wye, wrong way, from left 
to right 

Wa, a wall 

Waan, a wand 

Waicht, weight 

Waicht, a small sieve 

Wan, gained, reached, past of 

win, to gain, to reach ; to win 

home, to reach home 

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Wardle, the world 

Wark, work 

Warna, were not 

War St, worst 

Wattir, water 

Wee, with ; also wi 

Wee, small 

Weel, well 

■pFeera, wind 

Wicht, strong 

Win, wind 

TTm, to reach; to gain; see wan 

Win on, to mount 

Winkie, the eye 

Winna, will not 

Wint, to want, to wish for 

Winiin, without 

Wir, were 
Wis, to wish 
TFwsm, wishing 
Withoot, without 
Wiz, was 
Woh, a web 
TFJit?, would 
Wyme, the belly 
l^^e, way 

Teel mairt, an ox killed at Christ- 
mas for home consumption 
Yett, a gate 
Yir, yer, your 
Yit, a gate 
Youl, a howl 
Fow, a ewe 

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Choice Notes from " Notes and Queries " Folk-Lore. London: 
Bell and Daldy, 186, Fleet Street, 1859; cited as Choice Notes. 

Extracts from " The Presbytery Book of Strathbogie," a.d. m.dc.xxi 
— M.DC.Liv. Aberdeen : printed for Spalding Club m.docc.xliii. ; 
cited in full, 

" Fauna Populaire de la France," par Eugene RoUand, vols. i. ii. 
and iii. Paris : Maisonneuve et Cie., Libraires-Editeurs, 25, Quai 
Voltaire ; cited as Faune Populaire de la France. 

The Folk-Lore Record, vols. i. ii. and iii. pt. 1. London : Published 
for the Folk-Lore Society ; cited as F.-L. Record. 

Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and 
the Borders, by "William Henderson. London : Published for the 
Folk-Lore Society by W. Satchel, Peyton, & Co., 12, Tavistock Street, 
Covent Garden, W.C, 1879 ; cited as Henderson. 

Notes and Queries, Fifth series. London, 20, Wellington Street, 
Strand ; cited as Notes and Queries, 6th series. 

The Songs of the Russian People as illustrative of Sclavonic Mytho 
logy and Russian Social Life, by W. R. S. Ralston, M.A. London : 
Ellis & Green, 83, King Street, Covent Garden, 1872 ; cited as Songs 
of the Russian People, by W. R. S. Ralston. 

Storia Comparata degli usi Nuziali in Italia e presso gli altri Popoli 
Indo-Europei, by De Gubernatis. Milano : E. Treves & Co., Editori, 
1869 ; cited as Usi Nuziali, by De Gubernatis. 

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Aberdeen, rhymes on, 106, 117 

Aberdour, rhymes on, 103, 113 

Agricultural folk-lore, 177-196 

Aikeybrae, rhymes on, 102 

Althash well, 40, 41 

Amber beads as curative agents, 40 

Animal superstitions, 123-148 

Animals killed by fairies, 64 

Ant, the, 147 

Apparition of one soon to die, 204 

Apple, love divination by eating, 85 

April, 150 

Apron-string loose, 87 

Arion ater, 148 

Arrestment of horses, 32 

Aspen, 148 

Ass, the, employed in curing whooping 

cough, 132 
Auchindroin, rhyme on, 106 
" Anl' man's bell," 148 
Avon, rhyme on, 103 

Bait-pot, 54 

Balgownie, rhyme on, 108 

Ballads, singing of, 55 

Balls, a village amusement, 158, 159 

Balveny, rhyme on, 106 

Banff, rhymes on, 103, 104, 106 

"Bannock Nicht," customs on, 164- 

Banns, proclamation of, 89 

Baptism, customs at, 11-13 ; effect of, 
on a sick child, 11 ; hospitality at, 
12; child must sleep in its baptismal 
dress, 12; baptismal water in child's 
eyes, 12; baptismal water drunk or 
poured under foundation of house, 

Bargain making among boys, 22 ; 
sealed among men by pressing the 
thumbs together, 189 

Barnfans, 188 

"Bar-reetcrap," 179 

Bass, near Inverury, rhyme on, 107 

Bank, 50 

Bed, sleeping in strange, to divine 
future husband, 83 

" Beddan," the, 96 

Bees, first swarm of, emit a sound 
exactly at midnight on the last day 
of the year, 147; must not be pur- 
chased, 147 

Beggars, wandering, entertained in 
family, 57 

Belrinnes, rhvme on, 104 

Beltane,. 167 " 

Bench, 51 

Bennochie, rhymes on, 104, 110, 113 

Besom, thrown after animal when led 
away to be sold, 188 

" Beverage o' the new claes," 31 

Birds, 134-143 ; flying inland, indica- 
tion of a coming storm, 134; pair on 
Valentine day, 134 

Bird rhymes, 134, 135 

Birthday rhyme, 25 

Birth, customs at, 4-6 

" Blaaiu skate," 201 

" Black Airt," what it was, taught in 
Spain and Italy, in dark rooms, devil 
watched for last student, 73 

Black snail, omens from, 148 

Black speck on teeth, 26 

Black speck on wick of a candle, 32 

Blood, three drops falling from nose, a 
death omen, 204 

Blood, to dream of, 29 

Bluebell, the, 148 

Boats, 197-202; ceremonies on arrival 
of new, 197; ceremony on new boat 
returning from first fishing, 198 ; 
mode of turning when going to sea, 
199; on leaving for fishing at another 
station, something borrowed, 200 ; 
when wrecked with loss of life not 
used afterwards, 198 ; boats at sea, 
not to be pointed at with finger, nor 
counted, 200 

Boat-ballast, 198 

Boat-launch rhyme, 197 

Boils, lucky hand to dress, 36, 37 

Bones, human, 215 

Bonfires, 188 

" Bonnie things," 88 
Q 2 

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" Borie," a weather sign, 154 

" Borrowing days," 150 

Borrowing by fairies, 63, 64 

Boy, code of honour, 21-24; rule of the 

ring, 21 j rule of a race, 21, 22; 

bargain-making, 22 ; oaths, 22 ; 

presents, 23 ; the informer, the liar, 

23 ; sharing sweetmeats, 23, 24 
Boyne, rhyme on, 104 
Boai-bed, 52 
Bread baked by fairies during sunshine 

with rain, 65; bridal-bread, 89 
Bridal-ale, 89 
Bridal-bread, 89 
Bridal procession to and from church 

101, 102 
Bride's maids, 88, 92 
Bride-capture, survival custom of, 91 
Bride-stool, 101 
" Broch " round moon a weather sign, 

Broom in rich flower, a sign of a plen- 
tiful crop, 148 
" Broon coo's lick," 26 
"BroseDay," 164-166 
Bruckleg, 51 
Buchan, 104 

Buck, name of a hill, 104 
Building materials for dweUing-houses, 

Bull " boorin " at a man, 133 
Bwn-bed, 52 

Burial, customs at, 210-215 
Biit-ein, 52 
Bntter,chuming customs, 194; to dream 

of, 29 ; cast forth at death, 206 

Cabrach, rhyme on, 105 
Caimbyke, rhyme on, 105 
Caimmuir, rhyme on, 105 
Cakes, how served up, 31 ; if counted, 

eaten by fairies, 65, 157 
Calf when dropped not touched with 

hand, 194, 195 
Campanula rotundifolia, 148 
Candlemas-day, rhyme on, 151 
Candles carried round the bed at birth, 

5 ; burned beside a dead body, 207, 

« Can'le-gullie," 51 
Caps, small wooden basins, 52 
Carbon, film of on gi-ate, 32 
Carcinas manas, 148 
Card playing at Christmas, 164 
Camousie, rhyme on, 105 
Casting the heart, 43 
Casting ill, 34 ; power of, possessed only 

by some ; modes of doing so, 34 ; 

power to shew who did it, 37 

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Castoc, pulling the, 84 

Cat, to dream of, 29; sucks an infant's 
breath, dying in a house, an omen of 
death, dangerous to shoot a cat, 123; 
taken as a protection against disease 
on entering new house, 53, 124 ; 
transferring disease, unlucky to meet, 
124 ; male cat, 124, 125 ; proverbs, 
weather proverbs from cat, 125 ; 
rhymes, 125, 126; shut up at the 
time of death, 207 

Cattle, superstition, 133, 134; holding 
up their heads and snuffing a sign 
of rain, a bull "boorin," 133 ; on 
Christmas mom, 159; forespoken, 
fairies among cattle, "Bl ee," 184; 
working ill among cattle by "hackit 
flesh," 184, 185 ; pig sacrificed to 
avert disease, diseased animal burnt 
to death, " Needfyre," 186; cutting 
off fore-legs of dead animal and 
preserving them to keep ofE disease, 
186,187; liver and lungs of dead ani- 
mal preserved, transferring disease, 
arresting disease by burying dead 
animal " abeen the toon," 187; cures 
by draughts, 187, 188; off a new 
shilling, 187 ; off " Willocks " ball 
and bridle, 187, 188; witches among 
cattle, 188 ; besom thrown on the 
animal when led away to be sold, 
halter went along with it when sold, 
188 ; sign of cross made on animal 
when sold, 188, 189 ; bargain sealed 
by pressing thumbs, " blockan ale," 

Caul, divination by, 25 

Caves, beliefs concerning, 116 

" Chackie Mill," 203 

Chairs sprinkled with water at death, 

Chapels, resorted to for cure of disease, 
42; for churching of women, 6 

Chapman, the, 58 

Charming disease, 36 

" Cheek lone," 180 

Cheese, given at birth-feasts, 4 

Chickens hatched a-field must be left 
where hatched, 142 

Child, the, 7-10; if a boy, wrapped in 
a woman's shirt, if a girl, wrapped 
in a man's, if operation reversed, no 
marriage, palms of hands not washed, 
live coal thrown into water in which 
new-born infant washed, sometimes 
poured under foundation of dwelling- 
house; child tnmed heels over head 
when dressed, 7 ; mode of preventing 
child from being forespoJien, danger 



Child — continued 
of giving too much praise, 7 ; modes 
of finding out if child forespoken, 
evil eye, how to avert, how to cure, 
casting ill on a child, " fairy change- 
ling," how to bring back child, 
cutting first tooth, " teething ban^ 
nock," what produces thieving pro- 
pensities, child speaking before walk- 
ing a liar, a present to a child on 
going into a house, 9 ; cradle, 10 ; 
must cry when baptized, must sleep 
in baptismal dress, 12; bom with 
caul, 25 ; doomed to be hanged, 25, 
26 ; bom with feet first had power to 
cure lumbago, rheumatism, 45, 46 
Christmas, 156-168 ; number of days 
observed, blacksmith would not work, 
every piece of work should be finished, 
food for man and beast laid in, 
"yeel fish," "yeel kebback," 156; 
ale for Christmas, bread for Christ- 
mas, omens from breaking Christmas 
bread, cakes of bread must not be 
counted, a child must not cry on first 
day of Christmas, a piece of new 
dress at Christmas, 157 ; Christmas 
breakfast, Christmas dinner, 158 ; 
Christmas morning, fire, omens from, 
something carried in first, live coal 
not given out on Christmas morning, 
160 ; Christmas begging, 160, 162 

Christmas games by children, 163 

Clvryga/ntlierrmm LeucamtheTnum, 193 

Churching of mother, 6 

Churning superstitions, 194 

Circle, small bright, round moon, 152 

Clach-na-bhan, tradition of stone so 
called, 42 

Clay figure, to cast ill by means of, 34 

Clochnaben, rhyme on, 113 

Clock stopped at the time of a death, 

" Cloddin " of crows, a weather sign, 

Clothes of the dead, 206 

Clouds, 154, 155 

Club, the " Hell-fiie," 74, 75 

Clunymoire, rhyme on, 106 

" Clyack " feast, 182 

"Clyack'' sheaf, 159, 181, 182 

Cock, the, 140; a prophet, crowing on 
threshold, crowing at midnight, 
power of seeing evil spirits, employed 
in the cure of epilepsy, produces a 
" cockatrix " egg when seven years 
old, 140 

" Cockatrix " hatched from an egg 
laid by a seven-year-old cock, 140 

" Cock's-eye " round moon a weatber 
sign, 152 

Coffin, 211, 212 

" Coffin-spehl," 204 

Cogs, 52 

Colours, rhyme on, 87 

Consumption, cure of, 130 

Cooking, superstitions about, 30 

Com, winnowing, love divination by, 

Comcairn, rhyme on, 105 

Countings out, 169-175 

Cow calving, 194 

Cow not milked on day when taken to 
market, 195 

Cow rhymes, 133, 134 

Cradle, superstitions concerning the, 9, 

Cramp, cure of, 145 

Cream kept generally for some length 
of time, 194 

Cromar, rhyme on, 105 

" Crook," the, 51 

Crooked sixpence lucky to keep in 
purse, 31 

Croon piece, 50 

Cross, the wood of, 148 

Cross, making sign of, on animal when 
bought, 188, 189 

" Crossie-croon shillan," 190 

" Cross't shilling," 190 

Crow, 135-137; a bird of darkness, 
135, 136 ; alighting on a house an 
omen of death, unlucky to destroy 
rookery, " cloddin," perching on the 
top of walls a weather sign, " craws' 
weddin," 136; crow rhymes, 137 

Cruden, 105 

Cryin bannocTt, 4 ; distributed to 
friends and visitors, 4, 5 

Oryin Ttebiacli, 4 

Crying of child on first day of Christ- 
mas, 157 

Cuckoo, love divination by the, 83 

Cnlblean, rhyme on, 105 

Cnllen, rbyme on, 106 

Cults, rhyme on, 106 

Cure of a Highlander at Broadford, 37, 

Curses, 35 

Daach, rhyme on, 1 06 

Dairy, 189-195 ; witches in dairy, 189- 
192; taking away milk, 189, 190; 
dam's excrement put into calf's 
mouth when dropped, 189 ; first milk 
through a finger-ring, shilling put 
into milking pail or cog, or horse- 
shoe nail, first milk curdled and pre- 

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Dairy — continued 

served, a " raip " plaited wrong way 
round animal's neck, first draught of 
water ofE a shilling, cow driven forth 
over fire and iron, fire and salt, with 
seal on neck, 190 ; modes of bringing 
back milk, 190-192 ; how to prevent 
forespeaking, 192, 193 

Dandilieth, rhyme on, 107 

Dead believed to return night after 
funeral, 213 

"Dead bell," 27 

" Dead can'le," 204 

"Dead drop," 203 

Dead one, to dream of, 29 

Deaf and dumb, 27 

Death, 206-208 ; breaking the rock 
over the head of one dying, dying 
one removed from bed, doors and 
windows opened, ceremonies at the 
time of death, 206 ; clock stopped, 
looking-glass covered, hens and cats 
shut np, neighbours did not yoke, 
laying out body, penny or halfpenny 
laid on eyelids, saucer with salt 
placed on body, mould or a green 
turf laid on body, candles kept burn- 
ing beside body, 207; time of dying, 

Death-omens, 202-206 ; three knocks, 
'■ the dead drop," "the chackie mill," 
a heavy sound outside the door, a 
murmur as of human voices outside 
the house, a pictuie or looking-glass 
falling, 203 ; the " dead can'le," a 
" fey-crop," a, " coflin-spehl," ap- 
parition of one doomed to die, three 
drops of cold blood falling from 
nose, joy more than ordinary, not 
sneezing, 20i ; the living and tlie 
dead grave, a mysterious sound, 204, 
205; dead body soft and flabby, 211; 
cat dying in house, 123; hens dying 
in numbers, hen crowing, 141 

Dee, the river, 107, 108 

Deer, kirk of, 107 

Delvey, rhyme on, 107 

Devil compacts, 74 ; how made, 74, 

Devil's bird, the magpie, 108 

Devil's mark on foreleg of pig, 129 

Dew used to increase quantity of milk, 

Diudnrcas, rhyme on, 107 

Dipple, rhyme on, 107 

Disease, causes of, 34, 35; casting ill, 
34; " ill ee," 34, 36; prayers, fore- 
speaking, hidden grave, sudden news, 
fright, 35 

Digitized by Microsoft® 

Disease, cures of by secret wisdom of 
certain men and women, 35; power 
of curing certain diseases possessed 
by some, 35, 36; motes in the eye 
extracted by one family, 36; setting 
broken limbs, dislocated joints in an- 
other, charming diseases, 36; lucky 
hand in dressing boUs, 36, 37; power 
of a posthumous child, 37 ; power to 
show in a looking-glass the faces of 
those who cast ill on man, cure of a 
Highlander at Broadford, 37, 38; 
articles having the virtue of curing 
disease, 38; Willox 'ball and bri- 
dle," 38,39; "Ee-stehn," 39; wells, 
40, 41; "Wallak kirk," 41; chapels, 
Clach-na-bhan, 42; cure of "ill ee," 
42; of forespeaking, by casting the 
heart, 43; of sleepy fever, 44; of epi- 
lepsy, 44, 45; of rickets, 45; of lum- 
bago, rheumatism, sprains, 45, 46; of 
whooping cough, of eye disease, 46; 
of erysipelas, "rose," of sting of 
nettle, of ringworm, of toothache, 
47, 48; of warts, 48, 49; of hiccup, 
49; cure of by dove, 142, 143; pro- 
tection against on going into a house, 

Disease, transferring, 124 

Disease among cattle, 184-188 

Divination, throwing the staff, 29, 30; 
tm-ning back on setting out on a 
journey, paying a visit, 30; new ser- 
vant, tea-stalk floating iu cup, 31, 32 

Dog, the, 126, 127; would not approach 
one near death, howling at night, 
power to see ghosts, 126; killed if he 
bit any one, mad dog's heart dried 
and ground to powder a cure for Ms 
bite, dog did not bite an idiot, run- 
ning sore healed by lick of dog, eat- 
ing grass a token of rain, sayings, 

" Dog," the word, not pronounced by 
fishermen at sea, 199 

Dog-fish, part of backbone, a cure for 
toothache, 144 

Dog-hole, 52 

Dogs, being bitten by, to dream of, 29 

" Dog afore his maister," 155 

Don, the river, 107, 108 

Dove flying round a person an omen 
of death, used in the cure of disease, 
142, 143 

Dreams of white horse, swine, eggs, fresh 
fish, butter, fruit, fire, water, tooth, 
dogs, cats, one dead, being dead, 
shoes, blood, 29 

Dresser, a piece of kitchen fumitm-e, 51 



Dressing of child, 7 

Drowning, 208 

Dmidical circles, traditions concerning, 

Drum, the name of a place, 117 
Ducks hatched a-field must be left, 142 
Duff, rhyme on, 117 
" Dummy," 27; consulted as to the 

unknown, 28 
Dying one removed from bed, 206 
Dyspepsia, cure of, 130 
Byvots, 50 

Eden, rhyme on, 108 

Eel, the, 145 

" Ee-stehn," 39 

Eggs, to dream of, 29 

Eggs of wild birds not to be touched in 

nest, 142 
Eggs on Peace Sunday, 166, 167 
" Elf-shot," 59 
Emerteen, 147 

Epilepsy, cures of, 44, 45, 140 
Erysipelas, cure of, 147 
Etiquette at table, 30 
Evil eye on a child, 8 ; cure of, 8. 
Evil spirits, power of seeing, possessed 

by cock, 140 
Eye disease, cure of, 46, 144 
Eye, motes in, the power to extract, 36 

race rhymes, 14 

"Fair Polk," 59 

Fairies, modes of keeping them at a 
distance from women in child-bed 
and infants, 5 ; fallen angels, dwelt in 
green hillocks in beautiful palaces, 
wells, governed by queen, did not like 
name of fairy, called " the fair folk " 
and "the gneed neebours," their 
behaviour to men, "fairy dairt" or 
" elf shot," a protection against them, 
house annoyed if built over one of 
their abodes, their time of coming 
out, the gloamin, spinning, 59 ; 
meal mills, paying " teind to hell," 
carried off unbaptized infants, 61 ; 
examples, 61, 62; liked human milk, 
62 ; enticed men and women away, 
62, 63 ; borrowed articles, 63, 64; 
animals fell under their anger, 
skilled in music, 64 ; fished, baked 
bread when sun shining and rain 
falling, ate counted cakes, " a furl o' 
fairies' ween," 65; among cattle, 184 

" Fairy changeling," 8, 9 

" Fairy dairt," 59 

Fairy wells, 59 

Family characteristics, 117-12^ 

Farming, 178-183; new tenant got help 
from his neighbours in work and 
seed, no seed given away till some 
sown, crofters thigged grain in fod- 
der during harvest, parts cultivated, 
178 ; mode of cropping, a "rig " left 
unsown for wild oats, "the aul 
man's" part, implements, 179; "twal 
onsen plew," 179-181 ; ceremony 
when plough "strykit," seed, har- 
vesting, mysterious animal among 
corn, 181; '"clyack" sheaf, 181-182; 
reapers divining where they were to 
reap next harvest, firing shots into 
neighbour's field when finished reap- 
ing before him, "clyack" feast, 182; 
winter, 182-183 ; grain left for the 
birds, winnowing of grain, produce 
of land consumed in seven years, 
mills, stopping mill-wheel, 183 

Faster Even, 164-166 

Feasts, at birth, 4; at burials, 210; at 
marriages, 93-96 

Feathers, wild fowl, 206 

Feet-washing of bridegroom, 89, 100 

Female friends present at the birth, 4 

Fergan well, 41 

" Ferrick," a weather sign, 152 

Fever, sleepy, cures of, 44 

« Fey-crap," 204 

Field mouse, 127 

Fiery spots on bottom of pot, 32 

Fighting among boys, 21 

Finger rhymes, 14, 15 

Finger-ring, first milk after cow calved 
milked through, 196 

Fingers, slender, meaning of, 26 

Fir-candles, carried round the bed at 
child-birth, 5; used for lighting the 
house, 54 

Fire, to dream of, 29; stirring, in a 
friend's house, 30; love divination 
from, 87 

Fire-hinlin, 51 

Fire-place, 51 

Fireside, evenings at, 54 

Fish, 144-146; to dream of, 29; hung 
in moonlight poisonous, 152; how 
cured, 201; how sold, 201, 202 

Fish " glowrt ooto' the boat," 199, 200 

Fisherman's prejudice against being 
asked where he was going if pro- 
ceeding to sea, against the use of 
certain words at sea, 199 

Fishing, 197-202 

Fishing by the fairies, 65 

« Fit yoke," 179, 180 

"Flags," 154 

Fluke, the, 146 

Digitized by Microsoft® 



Foal, omens from seeing first one, 130; 
put out of stable tail foremost for 
the first time, 131 
■ Fochabers, rhyme on, 109 

" Foonin pint," 50 

Foot, paralysis of, 127 

" Fore frock," 179 

Forenichters, 57 

Forespeaking, 7,8, 35; child, modes of 
finding ont, 8; cnre of, 43 

Forespeaking cattle, 184 

"Forhooie" nest, 142 

Fortnne-telling, 165 

Forvie, rhyme on, 110 

Fraser, rhyme on, 118 

Fraserburgh, rhyme on, 109 

Friday an nnlncky day, Friday weather, 
"flatterin' ■' Friday, 149 

Fright dislodging the heart, 35 

Frog, the, spawning on edge of ponds, 
an indication of a wet summer, in 
middle of it of a dry summer, thrust 
down a cow's throat a cure for "red- 
water," mode of gaining power to 
cnre eye diseases by licking a frog's 
eye with tongue, 144; kept in cream 
jar, 194 

Fruits, to dream of in season, 29; out 
of season, 29 

Fuarag, 13 

Funeral customs, 210-215 

" Furl o' fairies' ween," 65 

Furniture of household, 51 

Fyvie, rhyme on, 109 

" Gaadman," 180 

Gallowgate, rhyme on, 110 

Garioch, rhyme on, 110 

Garter loose, 87 

Ghost, of a murdered person came back 
till murderer found out, executioner 
of punishment on the murderer, 69 

Ghosts, 68, 70; seen by the horse, 130 

Gight, Bog of, 110 

Girl baptised first, 13 

Golden plover, 143 

Goose, die wild, 143 

Gordon, 110, 111, 118, 119, 120, 121 

Gordius aquatidi^, 148 

" Gowk's thumles," 148 

Grave clothes, 207 

Grave, living and dead, 204, 205 

Graveyards, 215, 216 

Graveyards, " yird swine " in, 130, 215 

" Green brees," 51 

Green crab, 148 

" Gneede neebours," 59 

"Guidmahn's Craft," 116 

« Gysers," 158 

Digitized by Microsoft® 

" Hackit flesh," 184, 185 

Haddock, the origin of black spots on 
the shoulders, 145 ; haddock speak- 
ing, 145, 146 ; not good till it gets 
three dips in the May flood, 146 ; 
how cured, 201 

Hair-worm, 148 

Hair, strange growth of, on human 
body, 26 

HaUoween, 84-86, 167, 168 

Halo round moon, 152 

Halter went with sold animal, 188 

Hands and feet, large, 26 

Hansel for a new dress, 31 

" Hansel Monanday," 164 

Hare, the, 128, 129 ; dislike of, by fish- 
ing and agricultural population, 128 ; 
witches, 128, 129 ; fishers and hare, 
crossing path unlucky, harelip, lucky 
if started from the last cut grain, 
129 ; transformation of witch into, 72, 

Harelip, 129 

" Harkenin the moles," 123 

Harrows, 179 

Harvesting, 181 

Haunted mansions, 68 ; roads, bridges, 
graveyards, 70 

Hay, the family of, 121 

Headache brought on by the hair of 
the head being bnUt into a bird's 
nest, 26 

Heart dislodged by sudden news or 
fright, 35; restoring when dislodged, 

" Helliman Rig," 115 

Hen, the, 141, 142; unlucky to sell 
poultry by public auction, dying in 
numbers an omen of death, crowing 
of a hen an omen of death, proverb, 
141 ; eggs not sold after sunset, short 
hen-eggs produced female birds, long 
eggs male birds, hen setting, mode 
of time of, 141; May, an unfavour- 
able month, 142; March, favourable, 
142 ; shut up at the time of a death, 

Hens in dwelling-house, 51 

Hens and ducks preening themselves 
an indication of rain, 142 

Herring, the, 145; how to "raise" the 
herring, 145 

Hiccup, cure of, 49 

Hidden grave, going over, a cause of a 
rash, 35 

" Hinfrock," 179 

" Bird," the, 195, 196 

" Hird " rhyme, 196 

" Hird's " club, 195 



Hogmanay, 162 

Hoos, part of the couples, 50 

Hoose-heatin, 51 

Horse, the, arrestment of, 32; as a 
" first-fit " good, omens from seeing 
first foal, sees ghosts, &c., must be 
skinned when dead, 130 j how foal 
taken out from the stable for the 
first time, mare's seenndines, the 
" horse-grace," a rhyme, 131 ; black, 
the form of water kelpie, 66, 131; 
mode of finding water, 131, 132 

Horse, white, to dream of, 29 

Horses not yoked at the time of a 
death, 207 

Horseshoe nailed to boat's mast, 197 

House, the, 50-53; laying foundation 
of, 50, 51; unlucky to take possession 
of clean, 53; to take away luck 
from, 53 

Houses of fishing population, 52 

Human body, 25-28 ; birthday rhyme, 
child born with caul lucky, Tirtues of 
caul, its condition indicated the state 
of health of the one born with it, 25; 
child bom feet foremost doomed to 
be hanged, 25, 26 ; " broon coo's " 
lick, hair on body, mode of finding 
out if one is proud, hair when cut 
must be burned, omen of slender 
fingers, large hands and feet, " lucken 
toes," second and third toes equal, 
ring finger, black spot on teeth, 26; 
ringing in ears, glow in ears, itching 
in eyes, in palm of right hand, in 
that of left, in soles of feet, sneezing 
rhyme, 27 

Hunger, sudden, 30 

" Hungry folks' meat," 30 

" Hungry hillock," 30 

Hydrophobia, cure of, 127 

Idiot, not bitten by a dog, 127 

Idiots, 28 

" 111 ee " possessed by some, 4 ; inherent 

in families, 34; cure of, 42; among 

cattle, 184 
"111 fit" in fishing villages, 198, 199 
Informer, acting the, 23 
Insects, 147 

Inverugie, rhyme on, 112 
Iron, used at point of death, 206 
Itching, in eyes, in palms of hands, in 

soles of feet, 27 

"Jockie'splew,"196, 196 
Joy more than usual a death omen, 

Keith, rhyme on, 112 

Keithock Mill, 106 

Kilbimie, rhyme on, 112 

" King, the," an insect, 147 

" Kirk," not pronounced by fishermen 

at sea, 199 
KirUn, the, 96, 97 
Kiss, on putting on a piece of new 

dress, 31 
Kissing next neighbour on first sight 

of new moon, 151 
" Kistan," the, 209 
Kitchen, the, 51 
Knife, a present of, unlucky, 31 

"Laamer" beads, as curative agents, 

Ladybird, 147 
Lamps, 55 
Lapwing, the, 143 
Lark, the, the queen of heaven's hen, 

nest not robbed, rhymes, weather 

proverb; proverbs, 139 
Laxative for a cow, heart, liver, and 

lungs of a dove, 143 
Leechcraft, 34-49 
Leg and feet rhymes, 15, 16 
" Ley crap," 179 
" Lies," 26 

Light, mode of giving, 54, 55 
Limbs broken, dislocated, cure of, 36 
Lingering disease, cure of, by sleeping 

among sheep, 132, 133 
Lint seed, love divination by, 84 
Lochnagar, rhyme on, 113 
Locks undone in cases of labour, 4 
Looking-glass falling, a death-omen, 

" Louper dog," 127 
Love, modes of gaining, 86, 87 
Luck, to take away on removing from 

a house, 53 
" Lucken " toes, 26 
" Luck penny," 189 
Lumbago, cure of, 45, 46 
I/yooperdon iovista, 148 
Lyke-wake, 208, 209 
Lying, 23 

Magpie, the, 137, 138; jumping along 
the road before one lucky, 137; 
bopping near dwelling-house an in- 
dication of news, a rhyme, to shoot 
one unlucky. Devil's bird, a proverb, 

" Mairt," the, must be killed when the 
moon was on the increase, 151 

Mar, rhyme on, 110 

Mar, Earl of, 121 

Digitized by Microsoft® 



March, 150; favourable for hatching 
chickens, 141 

Mama, 112 

Marriage, 83-101; modes of love divi- 
nation, 83-86; divination as to num- 
ber of family, 86 ; modes of gaining 
love, 86, 87; rhymes, 87; wooing, 87, 
88; marriage often arranged without 
the knowledge of parents, marriage 
days, not lucky to marry in May, 
not lucky for two of a family to be 
married in the same ye&r, pi'ovidan, 
thiggin, ionnie things, invitation of 
guests, minister asked aiter guests in- 
vited, 88 ; a present made to minister, 
89; presents made to bride and 
bridegroom, 89, 90, 101; bridal bread, 
bridal ale, proclamation of banns, 
feet washing, 89, 90; weather on mar- 
riage day, rhymes, bridal dress, some- 
thing borrowed must be worn, green 
garters given by a younger sister to 
elder if married before her, arrival 
of guests, 90 ; sending for bride, 
91 ; procession to and from church, 
91,92; hride-stool,hxiA.e and bride- 
groom should not meet till moment 
of marriage, beadle paid by bride- 
groom, 91 ; bride's reception at 
house, 91, 92 ; ba-siller, 92 ; bridal 
feast, 93-95; penny bridals, 93, 94; 
sJiaimit reel, 95; the ieddan, first 
asleep first dead, husband carrying 
pains of labour, 96; the IdrHn, 96, 
97 ; marriage among fishing popular 
tion, early, 97; mode of arranging, 
97 ; invitation of guests, 97, 98 ; 
marriage in church, if bride and 
bridegroom of the same village, mode 
of marriage if of difEerent villages, 
sixpence in shoe of bride, bridegroom 
put down heel of shoe, 98; some- 
times the marriage party made the 
round of the village, 98, 99; sailor's 
marriage, bride's reception, pro- 
vidan, how taken home, 99 ; in 
Crovie, 100; bridegroom not allowed 
to sit at feast, customs in Bosehearty, 
in Gardenston, in Boddam, 100 ; in 
other villages, 101 

Masonic lodges, 159 

May, the month of, 150, 151 ; not lucky 
to marry in, 88; pilgrimages to 
wells, 41 ; not favourable for hatch- 
ing chickens, 141 

Meams, rhyme on, 113 

" Meel and ale," 183 

" Heels," the, 215, 216 

Merry nioht, the, 4 

Digitized by microsoft® 

Midwife, the, 4 

" Midyoke," 179 

Milk, 189-192; ceasing with woman in 
labour, 4; boiling over the edge of 
pot unlucky, 19; how to find out if 
taken from the cow, 193; modes of 
bringing back, if taken away, 190- 
192; how to increase, 193; poured 
out at death, 206 

Milk, human, liked by fairies, 62 

Mills and fairies, 60; traditions con- 
cerning origin of, 183, 

Mill-wheel, stopping of, 183 

" Minister," a word not pronounced at 
sea by fishermen, 199 

Mist during old moon, 152 

Mole, burrowing near foundation of 
dwelling, rubbing between hands till 
it dies gives the hands the virtue of 
of healing a woman's festered breast, 
a saying, 123 

Monday, an unlucky day, 149 

Monday weather, 149 

Monoliths, traditions concerning, 115 

Months, 149, 150 

Moon, the, unlucky to see new moon 
through a window or with empty 
hands, something in hand means a 
present, money turned in pocket, 
kissing next neighbour, 151; "lying 
on her back," influence of on ripen- 
ing grain and fruits, old moon lying 
in new moon's arms, seen soon after 
coming in, a sign of bad weather, 
152; on Saturday, 149 

Moorhen, the, 148 

" Moose wobs," 147 

Moray, rhyme on. Ill, 114 

Mormond, 112, 114 

Mother unchurched and unsained, and 
fairies, 5; not allowed to do much 
till churched, 5; nor to enter a 
neighbour's house till churched, must 
fetch first water from well in her 
thimble, must first go upstairs, 6 

Moths called witches, 147 

Mould placed on a dead body, 207 

Mount Mar, 113 

Mouse, the, 127 

Murder, 208 

Murderer, the, 69, 70 

Music by the fairies, 64 

Nails, spots on, 26 

Name not pronounced till aiter bap- 
tism, 11; dislike to tell, 30; of cer- 
tain families not pronounced in some 
fishing villages, 200, 201 



" Needfyre," 186 

Nettle, cure of sting of, 47 

New dress, 31 

New seryant, divination about, first 

work, 30 
New shilling, draught off, 187 
New year ceremony in fishing Tillages, 

Noises, death omens, 203-5 
Number rhymes, 20 
Nursery, the, l4-20j rhymes on face, 

on brow, &c., 14; on fingers, 14, 15; 

on legs, 15; on legs and feet, various 

members, 16; on feeding the child, 

16, 17; on undressing, on riding, 17; 

various, 18, 19; on numbers, 20 

Oaths in bargain making, 22 
Occupation in the evenings, 55-57 
Ogilvie, family of, 121 
Omens from fire on Christmas morning, 

Onions cast forth at death, 206 
Orchis roots, a means of gaining love, 


" Packies," " pack-merchants," 155 

" Paddle doo," 194 

Palms of child's hands not washed, 7 

Pan and kaiber, 50 

Peace Sunday, 166, 167 

Peas, roasting, love divination by, 85 

Peat, 54 

Peat-nenk, 51 

Peer-page, 54 

Peer^nan, 54 

" Penny bridal," 93, 94 

Picture falling from wall a death- 
omen, 203 

Pig, the, 129, 130 ; unclean, devil's 
mark on fore-leg, unlucky for a 
bride to meet, word not pronounced 
at sea, bite causes cancer, 129; pork- 
bree a cm-e for several diseases, 
" Yird-swine," pig sees the wind, 
sayings, 130; sacrificed to avert dis- 
ease among cattle, 186 

Pitfodils, 113 

Pittendrum, rhyme on, 113 

Pittentyoul, rhyme on, 113 

Place characteristics, 117-122 

Place rhymes, 102-115 

Plough, 179, 181 

Pools, guardian demons of, 67 

Pork-bree a cure for dyspepsia, con- 
sumption, 130 

Porpoise, 127 

Posthumous child, power of, to cure 
disease, 37 

Potatoes, omens from digging the first, 

Pottle bell, the ringing of, 22 

Prayers cause of disease, 35 

Presents among boys, 22, 23 

Pride, how to find out if one has, bv 
hair, 26 

Proverbs about cats, 124, 125 

Proverbs — " Turn the bannock wi a 
f awse Mentieth," 31 ; " Dirt's luck," 
53; " To meet the cat in the mornin," 
124; " They're like the cats, they 
nivver dee guide bit oot o' an ill in- 
tention," " They're like the cats, for 
they aye licht o' their feet," "It's 
gyain' t'be rain, the cat's washin' her 
face," 125; " Ye're like the pyot, 
ye're a' guts and gyangals," 128; 
" As lang's the liverock sings afore 
Can'lemas, it greets aif ter't," " Gehn 
the lift wir t' fa' an smore the live- 
rocks, fahr wid ye get a hole t'sheet in 
yir hehd," "Live on love, as liverocks 
diz on ley," 139; " A peck o' March 
dust is worth a king's ransom," " A 
peck o' March dust is worth its 
waicht in goud," " March sud come 
in like an adder's head, and gang oot 
like a peacock's tail," " March sud 
come in like a boar's head, an gang 
oot like a peacock's tail," " March 
sud come in like a lion and gang oot 
like a lam'," 150 

" Providan," 88 

PufE-ball, 148 

" Quaking ash," 148 

" Quarter-ill," cure of, 186 

Quarterer, 57 

Queen of Heaven's hen, the lark, 139 

" Rack-baan," 180 

Racing among boys, 21 

Raffles, 162, 163 

Rain, tokens of, 125, 127, 136, 154 

" Rain, a lauchin," 154 

Rain-rhymes, 154 

Rainbow, 153 

Maip, trailing the, 53 

Rantle-tree, 51 

Rash produced by passing over a hid- 
den grave, 35 

Rat, the, coming to a dwelling-house, 
leaving a dwelling-house, or a ship, 
head poisonous, 128 

Digitized by Microsoft® 



Raven, the, a rhyme, " a corbie mes- 
senger," flight of, a weather token, 

" Ream-bowie," 194 

" Ream-pig," 194 

Redbreast, unlucky to catch one, a 
rhyme, coming near house in autumn 
an indication of an early winter, 138; 
rhymes, 138, 139 

Red thread, 188 

" Red water," cure of, 144 

Reef-tree, 50 

Rennet, when made, 151 

Reptiles, 144 

Rheumatism, cure of, 45, 46 

Rhymes, nursery, 14-20 

Ribwort, loTe divination by the, 83 

Rick, custom of fathoming a, 84 

Rickets, cures of, 45 

Riddles, 76-82 

Right stocking to be put on first, 31 

Ring-finger, 26 

Ringing in ears, 27 

Ringworm, cures of, 47 

Rivers, bloodthirstiness of, 67 

" Rock," breaking of, over one dying, 

Rood-day, 151 

Roofs of houses, 50 

Rookery, unlucky to destroy, 136 

Ropes, 179 

Eosemarkie, well of, 42 

Rowan tree, 188 

Saat-'ba'het, 51 

Sailor's marriage, 79, 99 

Saining of mother and child, 5, 60, 61 

St. Brandon, 114 

St. Bridgets, 6 

St. aaus, 114 

Salmon, named after the taxman of 
the fishings, called "spey coolin" 
in some villages, a fisherman did 
not allow his boat to touch salmon- 
cobble, effect on a fisherman if told 
a salmon in his boat, unlucky if one 
caught in herring nets, 146 ; the 
word not pronounced at sea, 146, 199 

Salt thrown into fire to counteract the 
ill-luck of the milk boiling into fire, 
193; placed on a dead body, 207 

Saturday, 149 

Sanchin, 106 

Scholars, 55 

Scissors, a present of, unlucky, 31 

" Seal" of cow, went with cow when 
sold, 196 

Secundines of a mare, 131 

Seed, superstition concerning, 181 

Seed " thriggin," 178 

" Sens," 101 

Settle, a piece of furniture, 52 

Sliaim spring, 95 

Sliaimit reel, 95 

Sharp instrument, present of, unlucky, 

" Shee wisp," 31 

Sheep, the, producing black sheep un- 
lucky, black lamb put to death, 132; 
sleeping among sheep a cure for 
lingering disease, 132, 133 ; rhyme, 

Shirt, washing sleeve of, a love divina- 
tion, 85 

Shoes, to dream of a present of, 29; to 
dream of loss of, 29 

Shooting matches, 163 

" Shot-a-dead," 64, 184 

Signs, Professor of, at Aberdeen, 56, 

Silly Jwo, 25 

Sing before breakfast, unlucky, 31 

Sleep in moonlight, dangerous, 152 

Snail (black), omens from, 148 

Sneezing, 27, 204 

" Sniffltie fit," 148 

Snow, 153, 154 

Snow rhyme, 153 

" Sodgers," 32 

Songs, 55, 56 

" Soum," 180 

Souter's grace, 20 

Speaking to a woman in labour, 4 

Speck, black, on teeth, 26 

" Speldanes," or " spellans," 201 

Spiders running over clothes, nest on 
stalk of corn, meaning of, webs, 147 

Spinning done by fairies, 69 

Spots on nails, 26 

Sprains, cure of, 45, 46 

Staff, divination by throwing, 29, 30 

Stars, a plant, 51 

Stars, appearance of on last night of 
year, 160 

" Steer-draught o' laan," 179 

Stolen goods unlucky to take back and 
keep, 33 

Stones, traditions concerning, 115 

Storm, sea-birds flying inland indica- 
tion of coming, 134 

Story-telling, 56 

Strathbogie, 121, 122 

Straw, breaking of, between two women 
with child in one house when one 
was seized with labour, 4 

Strila, 104 

" Strykin benird," 207 

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Sudden news dislodging the heart, 35 
.Suicides, 213, 21i ; where buried, the 

instrument of destruction, 214 
Suicide by drowning, 208 
Snn, mock, 152 
Sunday sewing undone by the devil, 

Swan, the, 143 
Swine, to dream of, 29 
" Swine," the word not pronounced by 

fishermen at sea, 199, 201 

Tailor, the, 58 

Tam o' Rivven, 106 

Tap o' Noth, 104 

Tea-stalk floating in cup, 31, 32 

" Teething bannock," 9 

" Teething plaster," 9 

" Teind to hell," 5, 60; paid by fairies 

with human beings if possible, 5 
Theft, 32, 33 
" Thigging " by bride, 88 
" Thigging " at Christmas, 160-162 
" Thigging" song, 161 
Thomas the Rhymer, 102 
Thread, love divination by, 84' 
Three knocks a death omen, 203 
Thunder, 153 
" Thunderbolts," 184 
Times and seasons, 149-155 
" Tippens," 52 
Toad, the, defends itself by spitting 

fire, carries a jewel in its head, its 

tongne powerful in love matters, 

" Tobacco-nicht," 209 
Toes, second and third equal, 26 
Toothache, cures of, 47, 48 ; cure of 

by part of backbone of dog-fish, 144 
Tooth, to dream of loss of, 29 
Towie-Barclay, 122 
Trout, a fish of ill omen, caught in 

herring net unlucky, 146; the word 

not pronounced by fisherman at sea, 

Tuesday, a lucky day, 149 
Turning back from a journey, 30 
Turra (Turriff), 106, 214 
" Twal ousen plew," 179-181 

Udder, how to cure lumps on cow's, 

Ugie, rhyme on, 115 
Unbaptized infants 11; carried off by 

fairies, 61, 62 
Urie, rhyme on, 107 

Valentine day, 166 

"Village, marriage party proceed round, 

Visit paying, 30 

" Waarshe crap," 179 

" Waith-horse " shoe, 197 

Wallak Kirk, 41 

Warts, cures of, 48, 49 

Washing day, 176, 177 

Washing rhyme, 177 

Water, giving of, to a woman in labour, 

Water, heated by hot coal being thrown 

into, 7 
Water, to dream of, 29; mode of find- 
ing by a mare, 131, 132 
Water-birds building their nest, 134 
Water-kelpie, lived in deep pools, of 

rivers and streams, took the shape of 

a black horse, heard at night, enticed 

travellers to destruction, mode of 

capture, employment of when caught, 

could be killed, 66 
Wax figure placed before fire to cause 

disease, 34 
Weather, 142, 149-155; on Monday, 

149; on day of funeral, 213 
Weather proverbs from cats, 125 
Weather proverbs in March, 150 
Weather rhyme about flight of wild 

goose, 143 
Weather token from flight of raven, 

" Weddan ' craws,' " 136 
Well, creaming of, 159 
Wells, curative, 40-42 
Whin, 148 

" White gowans," 193 
Whooping-cough, cures of, 46, 132 
Wild ducks' brood not to be touched 

with hand, 142 
Wild fruits, 148 
Willox " ball and bridle," 38, 39, 187, 

Wind, the, 155; seen by pig, 130; crows 

" clodding," an indication of, 136; 

on first day of quarter or "raith," 151; 

on Rood-day, 151; on New Year's 

Day, 160 ; used for winnowing grain, 

Winding sheet, 211 
Windows in houses, 52 
Winnowing of grain, love divination 

by, 85; performed by the wind, 183 
Winter, early indication of, the robin 

coming near dwelling - house in 

autumn, 138 

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Witch, power from Satan, raised 
storms, caused disease, stole cow's 
milk',' &c., 71 ; turned herself into a 
hare, 71, 128 ; shot by a crooked 
sixpence, 71, 72, 128; the power pos- 
sessed by men, 72; among cattle, 188, 
189, 192 

" Witches " or moths, 147 

Woodbine, 188 

Wooing, mode of, 87, 88 

" Yaavl crap," 179 
" Yeel's jaad," 157 
" Yeel sones," 157 
Yellow-hammer, the, 139, 140 
" Yird swine," 130, 215 
Ythan, 110, 111 

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