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Glenbuchat Heritage

122 Folk Lore and Superstitions
The Glenbuchat Image Library
122 Folk Lore and Superstitions

Folk Lore and Superstitions

Previous entries have noted the persecution of witches in the countryside not far from Glenbuchat.

Despite being a Christian community, with a church and minister since the 1400’s, the residents of Glenbuchat and Strathdon still held on to pagan superstitions and beliefs.

The following entries from The Folk-Lore Journal of 1889 / Volume 7/ The Witch and other sources indicated that he countryside was full of stories of the suspicion of supernatural influences.

The following are some that relate to Glenbuchat and neighbouring parishes. Some of the people identified in the stories were residents of Glenbuchat and family details noted below..

Some Folk-Lore of Trees, Animals, And River-Fishing, From The North-East of Scotland.

The Holly.
Pieces of holly along with rowan were placed inside over the door of the stable to prevent the entrance of the nightmare. My informant has cut the tree for this purpose.—(Strathdon.)

Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs.
The following beliefs regarding Guardian Spirits of Wells and Lochs were collected in Strathdon and Corgarff, Aberdeenshire, by the help of Mr. William Michie Farmer, Coull of Newe, and Mr. James Farquharson, Corgarff. Distance from libraries and want of books of reference have prevented me from quoting similar beliefs among other nations and tribes except in the very slightest way. I have contented myself with merely stating the beliefs.

Tobar-fuar-mòr, i.e., The Big Cold Well.
This well is situated at the bottom of a steep hill in a fork between two small streams on the estate of Allargue, Corgarff There are three springs that supply the water, distant from each other about a yard. The well is circular, with a diameter of about twelve feet. The sides are about five or six feet deep, with an opening on the lower side through which the water flows out.
The water running from these springs is of great virtue in curing diseases—each spring curing a disease. One spring cured blindness, another cured deafness, and the third lameness. The springs were guarded by a Spirit that lived under a large stone, called "The Kettle Stone", which lay between two of the springs. No cure was effected unless gold was presented to the Spirit, which she placed in a kettle below the stone. Hence its name of "Kettle Stone". If one tried to rob the Spirit, death, by some terrible accident, soon followed. My informant, James Farquharson, more than fifty years ago, when a lad resolved to remove the "Kettle Stone" from its position, and so become possessor of the Spirit's gold. He accordingly set out with a few companions, all provided with picks and spades, to displace the stone. After a good deal of hard labour the stone was moved from its site, but no kettle-full of gold was found.
An old woman met the lads on their way to their homes, and when she learnt what they had been doing she assured them they would all die within a few weeks, and that a terrible death would befall the ringleader.

Tobar-na-glas a Coille, i.e., The Well in the Grey Wood.
This well lies near the old military road, near the top of the hill that divides the glen of Corgarff from Glengairn. In a small knoll near it lived a spiteful Spirit that went by the name of Duine-glase-beg, i.e., the Little Grey Man. He was guardian of the well and watched over its water with great care. Each one on taking a draught of water from it had to drop into it a pin or other piece of metal. If this was not done, and if at any time afterwards the same person attempted to draw water from it, the Spirit resisted, annoyed, and hunted the unfortunate till death by thirst came. My informant has seen the bottom of the well strewed with pins. Last autumn (1891), I gathered several pins from it.

The Bride's Well.
This well was at one time the favourite resort of all brides for miles around. On the evening before the marriage the bride, accompanied by her maidens, went "atween the sun an the sky" to it. The maidens bathed her feet and the upper part of her body with water drawn from it. This bathing ensured a family. The bride put into the well a few crumbs of bread and cheese, to keep her children from ever being in want.

Tobar Vacher.
This is a fine well, dedicated to St. Machar, near the present farm of Corriehoul, Corgarff, Strathdon. A Roman Catholic chapel was at one time near it, and the present graveyard occupies the site of the chapel. This well was renowned for the cures it wrought in more than one kind of disease. To secure a cure the ailing one had to leave a silver coin in it. Once there was a famine in the district, and not a few were dying of hunger. The priest's house stood not far from the well. One day, during the famine, his housekeeper came to him and told him that their stock of food was exhausted, and that there was no more to be got in the district. The priest left the house, went to the well, and cried to St. Machar for help. On his return he told the servant to go to the well the next morning at sunrise, walk three times round it, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, without looking into it, and draw from it a draught of water for him. She carried out the request. On stooping down to draw the water she saw three fine salmon swimming in the well. They were caught, and served the two as food till supply came to the famine stricken district from other quarters.

Ben Newe Well.
There is a big rugged rock on the top of Ben Newe in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, On the north side of this rock, under a projection, there is a small circular-shaped hollow which always contains water. Everyone that goes to the top of the hill must put some small object into it, and then take a draught of water off it. Unless this is done the traveller will not reach in life the foot of the hill. I climbed the hill in June of 1890, and saw in the well several pins, a small bone, a pill-box, a piece of a flower, and a few other objects.

Before Christmas, as much bread was baked as sufficed for the whole period of it. It was called "the Yeel brehd." (Keith.) In Strathdon the cakes for the Christmas season had all to be baked before daybreak. The usual practice is to begin to bake by two or three o'clock in the morning, so as to have the work completed in proper time. In Pitsligo the baking of it began after all the household was settled up for the night, and finished before morning. Told by one who was in the habit of doing it.

Safeguards against the Witch.

In Strathdon pieces of "rawn-tree" were put into every byre on the Reed day"—Rood day—(May 2nd, O.S.) by the goodman after sunset. This had to be done in secret.
Pieces of it were placed over the stable door to prevent the witches from entering to take out the horses for their midnight rides.
(Strathdon, Corgarff.)

How to find out the Witch.
When a cow's milk failed, and the work of a witch was suspected, a pair of the "gueedeman's breeks" was put over the cow's horns. She then made straight for the house of the witch and lowed at the door. (Strathdon.)

Modes of undoing her Work.
1. Mrs. Michie, Coull of Newe, Strathdon, began one day to make butter, but no butter could she get, though she churned from three o'clock in the afternoon till late at night. The cream was given to the pigs, but they turned away from it. On three separate occasions the same thing took place. Something was judged to be far wrong. Peter Smith, a man of skill, that lived in the adjoining parish of Towie, was sent for. He was fond of a glass of whisky, and on his arrival he was treated to one and a little more. So refreshed, he said, "Noo (now), a'm (I am) fit for wark (work)." He asked if there was any myrrh in the house. There was not. My informant, Mr. W. Michie, the present farmer, then a boy, was sent to the gardens of Castle Newe—not far distant—in search of the herb. He got a small quantity. The "skeely man" examined it, smelt it, and said, "There's nae muckle o't, bit (but) its gueede (good)." He then ordered a large copper to be placed over the fire and half filled with water. He put the myrrh and some ingredients he took from his pocket into the copper. He sat down and watched the mixture boiling for about three hours. The copper was then removed from the fire, and the mixture was allowed to cool. When it was cooled, a bottleful of it was given not only to each cow, but to each of the cattle on the farm. A small stream, or "burn," runs alongside the farm. He asked Mrs. Michie to go to it and to gather from it a quantity of "water-ryack" and to place it over the door of the cowbyre. He gave instructions that if there was any difficulty (which there might be) in the butter -making when the cream was next churned, a little rennet should be put into the churn. He asserted there would be no difficulty again.

Mrs. Michie asked Peter if he knew who had wrought the mischief. He said he did, but he refused to tell her as "it wid (would) only cause dispeace amon' neebours (neighbours)."

He was in the habit of saying that he had got the secret from his wife before she died, and that he could give it before he died to a woman. It was the common belief with regard to these occult powers that they could only be given just before death to one of the opposite sex.
(Told by Mr. Michie.)

The Witch of Badachallach; or Jeanie Marae Alise.
1. This woman, famed as a witch, was one day during a year of great scarcity passing a neighbouring farm. She observed the ploughman lying on the ground behind the plough. Going to him she asked what was the matter with him. He told her he was unable to stand from want of "meat," i.e. food. "Oh! peer (poor) man," said she, "I'll gee (give) you meat." So saying, she sat down, gathered together her apron as if in the form of a "milking cog," and repeated the words: "Froh (froth), milk, froh, milk, black stick, you an me, froh, milk." She then bade the man bring her a handful of mould from between the coulter and the sock. The man did as he was bidden. She took the mould from him, and dropped it slowly from her hand into her apron among the "froh milk." She gave the man the dish, apparently so prepared, for "meat." (Corgarff.)

During another bad year a man was ploughing near a birch wood in the neighbourhood of the witch's house. He saw a fine roe grazing in the wood. He hurried home for his gun, and stalked the animal very carefully till within range. On looking up to take aim he saw no roe, but Jeanie gathering the dew into her apron.

A farmer had for several evenings noticed a fine fat hare eating his briard. On more than one occasion he had shot at the animal but without hitting her. One evening he loaded his gun with a sixpence having a cross on it. He fired, the shot took effect, away rushed the hare, and disappeared down the "lum" (wooden chimney) of Jeanie's house. The farmer entered the house and found Jeanie on bed. "Ye've got sehr hips the nicht, Jeanie," said he. "Aye," answered she; "bit (but) your wife 'ill ha'e sehrer, or she get quit o' faht ye ga'e 'er." The wife died in childbed.

On one occasion she paid a visit to a farmer, a great friend of hers. He had a son in bad health. A cow was ill and almost at the point of death at the same time. About midnight Jeanie heard a voice calling, "Will I tack the coo or Duncan?" (the son). "The coo, the coo, an leave Duncan," answered she. Next morning Duncan was restored to health, and the cow was dead.

Jeanie's house caught fire one day when she was from home. Some neighbours were doing their best to save the house when the old woman arrived. She at once went into the smoke, crying, "If a'm yours, give me three puffs an three blaws, an in the diel's name oot it goes."

She was passing a house after a heavy rain and whilst it was raining heavily. The river Don was in high flood. The gueedewife and children were standing in the door "greeting sehr" (crying bitterly). "Faht ails you?" quo' Jeanie. "See my peer man (husband) gan (going) to wide (wade) the wattir, an he'll be droont," said the weeping wife. "Gee me yer corn-riddle," quo' the witch, "an I'll tack 'im ower." The corn-riddle was brought and given to her. She launched it, stepped on it, and reached the middle of the stream without any mishap. When in mid -stream the riddle began to shake, and toss, and whirl to such a degree that it looked as if it would upset. The man saw what he thought the danger, and cried out, "God save you, Jeanie." In a moment Jeanie disappeared with the riddle and was never seen again.

Jeanie had a son. He was a glutton and had a liking for milk. If a gueedewife refused to give milk when he asked it, her cows yielded little or no milk for the season. My informant assures me many firmly believed this. (Corgarff.)

2. L— D— had the reputation of being a witch. On several occasions J— F—, of P—, observed a hare in his garden. He tried to shoot the animal at three separate times, but to no purpose. He tried it a fourth time, loaded his gun with a sixpence, took aim, and fired. The shot took effect, and away limped the wounded hare and escaped. The witch when she next appeared was lame, and walking by the help of a stick, which she was obliged to use ever after on account of her lameness.

One day she asked money from the man who had wounded her when in hare-shape. He was afraid to refuse her, and gave a half-crown piece. It was his usual assertion, on speaking of the matter, that he never "waart" (spent) money to better purpose, for whatever he took in hand afterwards throve beyond expectation. He tried to keep her favour by giving her year by year "a fraucht o' peats," i.e. two cart-loads of peats, to keep her warm during winter.

(One day she went into a house, and, seeing curds prepared for making cheese, she asked for a little. The gueedewife for some reason or other refused the request. Lizzie left the house in no kindly humour. The gueedewife in the doing of her work had shortly after to go outside for a little. She left the door standing open, the dog entered the house and ate the curds. Said the gueedewife, "A miclit as weel ha'e geen (given) some o' them t' Lizzie, as latten (let) the dog eht (eat) them."

(On another day she went into a house and begged for a little butter. The request was refused. Next time the cows were milked they gave no milk, nor did they give milk till Lizzie's favour was gained by a present, and so she would allow the cows to give their milk.
My informant, Mr. Wm. Michie, farmer, Coull of Newe, Strathdon, knew the woman. (Strathdon.)

The Devil in Shape of a Dog.
It was a common belief that the devil took the shape of a beast, often that of a dog, and made his way in that shape to any spot where a great crime was to be committed or some tragic thing to take place. J— R—, farmer, in Milton of Glenbucket, was one Sunday morning strolling over his fields to view his crops, when a big black mastiff rushed past him at more than ordinary speed. The brute attracted the farmer's attention by his great sticking-out "allegrugous " eyes. He followed him as fast as he was able, never lost sight of him, and saw him enter the door of the farmhouse of, Drumnagarrow where two brothers lived. At that moment he heard a shot inside. One of the brothers was shot dead. A mystery hangs over the man's death.
(Told by Wm. Michie, Strathdon.)

William Michie mentioned above, the lady in the story was his mother Isobel nee McHardy and lived at Coull of Newe at the foot of the Deochry Road

William Michie
Birth: 11 JAN 1829 in Coull of Culquhanny, Strathdon,
Residence: 01 APR 1858 Coull of Culquhanny, Strathdon,
Death: 10 JAN 1911 in Coull of Newe, Strathdon,
Father: Charles Michie b: 06 JUN 1798 in Strathdon,
Mother: Isabel McHardy b: 24 MAR 1802 in Tornahaish, Corgarff, Strathdon,
Marriage 1 Jane Mitchell b: 14 AUG 1839 in Glenmuick, c: 06 SEP 1839 in Glenmuick, Married: 01 APR 1858 in Coull of Culquhanny, Strathdon,
Children 1. Isobel Michie b: 23 JUN 1858 in Strathdon,
2. John Michie b: 21 DEC 1859 in Strathdon,
3. Jane Michie b: 28 OCT 1861 in Strathdon,
4. Charles Michie b: 22 DEC 1863 in Strathdon,
5. Helen Michie b: 07 OCT 1866 in Strathdon,
6. Alexander Michie b: 27 DEC 1868 in Strathdon,
7. Ann Michie b: ABT JAN 1871 in Coull of Newe, Strathdon,
8. Mary Michie b: ABT 1873 in Strathdon,
9. Esther Michie b: ABT 1876 in Strathdon,
10. William Michie b: ABT 1879 in Strathdon,
11. James Michie b: ABT 1882 in Strathdon,
12. George Michie b: ABT 1884 in Strathdon,
Census: 1841 Coull of Newe, Strathdon,
Census: 1851 Coull, Strathdon,
Census: 1861 Coull, Strathdon,
Census: 1881 Coull of Newe, Strathdon,
Census: 1871 Coull of Newe, Strathdon,
Census: 1891 Coull of Newe, Strathdon,
Census: 1901 Coull of Newe, Strathdon,

John Reid (noted as J-R-) was the occupant of Milton Glenbucket mentioned above.

Reid, John of Milton, Glenbucket
Baptised: 8 June 1755, Glenbucket Parish, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Lindsay, Charlotte
Reid, William Minister Of Auchindoir And Kearn, Reverend Mr
Reid, John
Reid, Charlote
Reid, John

John Reid Leased The Farm At Milton, In Glenbucket Parish, Aberdeenshire.

John Married Charlotte Lindsay, Daughter Of John Lindsay And Unknown. (Charlotte Lindsay Was Born About 1770.)

Drumnagarrow mentioned above was the home of the well know fiddler

John Reid of Milton who reports the shooting at Drumnagarrow was christened in 1755
The shooting presumably took place when he was older ?about 1800 when the Strachan family lived at Drumnagarrow. James Strachan was the well-known fiddler known as Drumnagarry

Does anyone know any more information about this shooting at Drumnagarrow?

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1 Strathdon Slides - IntroductionGlenbuchat Poem 1909174 Glenbuchat's contribution to Soil Science119 Aberdeenshire Epitaphs and Inscriptions: 117 Third Statistical Account 1956140 ? Glenbuchat Tartan86 The Whistle by James Wattie 186990 Parish Register of Christenings 1822-2472 1791 Statistical Account Strathdon19 John o'Badenyon Strathspey Dance