Legendary Rock: OS Grid Reference – NS 9686 9906
Also Known as:
- Devil’s Cradle
- Devil’s Rock
Close to the legendary old Wizard’s Stone we find there’s a real cluster of witch-lore in this small area to the north of Dollar, which deserves careful analysis from competent researchers and students. Not only is there the legendary Lochy Launds of the Black Goddess hereby, there was also this curious rock, described by one ‘J.C.’ in an early edition of the Scottish Journal (1848), which told:
“On the confines of the parish of Dollar, not far from Hillfoot, the seat of John McArthur Moir, Esq., lies a glen, called Burngrens, watered by a small stream and planted with numerous large trees. A great number of these, however, have fallen, during the last few years, beneath the unsparing axe; but strong, healthy saplings are rising rapidly to supply their place.
“In this glen there is a large stone, of peculiar formation, in every way like a cradle. It is currently believed by the superstitious in the vicinity, that the stone, every Hallowe’en night, is raised from its place, and suspended in the air by some unseen agency, while “Old Sandy,” snugly seated upon it, is swung backwards and forwards by his adherents, the witches, until daylight warns them to decamp.
The following rather curious affair is told in connection with the “Cradle:”
“One Hallowe’en night a young man, who had partaken somewhat freely of the intoxicating cup, boasted before a few of his companions that he would, unaccompanied, visit the stone. Providing himself with a bottle, to keep his courage up, he accordingly set out. The distance not being great, he soon reached his destination. After a lusty pull at the bottle, he sat down upon the “Cradle,” boldly determined to dispute the right of possession, should his Satanic majesty appear to claim his seat. Every rustle of a leaf, as the wind moaned through the glen, seemed to our hero as announcing the approach of the enemy, and occasioned another application to fortifying “bauld John Barleycorn.” Overpowered at last by repeated potations, our hero, dreaming of “Auld Nick,” and his cohort of “rigwuddie hags,” fell sound asleep upon the stone.
“His companions, who had followed him, now came forward. With much shouting and noise, they laid hold of him, one by the head and another by the feet, and carrying him, half-awake, to the burn, dipped him repeatedly, accompanying each immersion with terrific yells. The poor fellow, thinking a whole legion of devils were about him, was almost frightened to death, and roared for mercy so piteously that his tormentors thought proper to desist. No sooner had our hero gained his feet than he rushed up the glen, and ran home, resolving never to drink more, or attempt such a feat again. For many a long day he was ignorant who his tormentors really were.
“We stood upon the stone about a week ago. Ivy and moss are slowly mantling over it, a proof that it is some considerable time since the Devil has been rocked on it.”
Historian Angus Watson (1995) told the place to be “south of Wizard’s Stone…near Kelty Burn,” and also that,
“it is said to be where witches rock Satan to sleep on Halloween.”
Above here, the tree-topped rounded hill to the north was one of the meeting places of the witches of Fife, Perthshire and Clackmannan. Something of sincere pre-christian ritual importance was undoubtedly enacted in this region as the sites of the Maiden are also a short distance due north. Does anyone know more about this fascinating sounding place? (the grid-reference to the site is an approximation)
- ‘J.C.,’ “The Deil’s Cradle”, in The Scottish Journal, February 5, T.G. Stevenson: Edinburgh 1848.
- Simpkins, John Ewart, County Folklore – volume VII: Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning Fife, with some Notes on Clackmannan and Kinross-Shires, Folk-Lore Society: London 1914.
- Watson, Angus, The Ochils: Placenames, History, Tradition, PKDC: Perth 1995.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian