Legendary Rock: OS Grid Reference – NJ 264 087
Also known as:
- Kelpie Stone
The old Scottish folklorist, A.A. MacGregor, described this legendary rock, “by the Bridge of Luib, on the River Don,” in his classic Peat Fire Flame. (1937) One of the numerous ‘holed stones,’ it was one of countless rocks in our isles imbued with animistic spirit essence, akin to similar rocks found in all of the other cultures in the world. MacGregor told how,
“It happened that a man summoned to the death-bed of a relative came to this crossing-place just after torrential floods had carried away the bridge. When he was on the point of abandoning all hope of reaching the opposite bank, a tall man appeared from nowhere and volunteered to carry him across. The distracted homecomer accepted the assistance proffered. But, when he and his carrier reached mid-river, the latter reverted to the form of the river kelpie and endeavoured to drag him down to the river’s bed. The victim managed to escape. As he scrambled to the bank, the infuriated kelpie hurled after him the huge boulder that to this day goes by the name of the Kelpie’s Stane.”
But the stone was also known to possess healing and magickal properties, as evidenced from MacPherson’s (1929) chronicle, which told:
“Somewhere near Dinnet was the Kelpie Stone. Childless women passed through its 18 inch (46cm) hole to concieve. A noble lady performed the task to no avail; only when she repeated it in the same direction as the river flow did the charm work.”
Close by are several other intriguing place-names which may at some time have had some archaeo-mythic relevance to this legendary rock. On the hill above is the old Carn Lian; the water course nearby is the Allt na Ciste; but most intriguingly we find the Bog of the Old Woman, or the Moine Cailleach a half-mile to the east.
MacGregor, Alisdair Alpin, The Peat-Fire Flame, Ettrick Press: Edinburgh 1937.
McPherson, Joseph M., Primitive Beliefs in the North-East of Scotland, Longmans, Green & Co: London 1929.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian