Thursday 18 August 2016

The Spirits of Auchenleck

Today, we return to The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, Volume 82 (1818). This time, the mysterious CTCS shares some tales of the spirits of Auchenleck and William Wallace.

Upper and Nether Auchenlecks are said to have been anciently the property of one of the relatives of Wallace, and to have been so denominated after the possessions of his family in Ayrshire. At Nether Auchenleck, or as it is usually called Nether Affleck, there is a very curious relic of antiquity called Wallace's Syles, which, as tradition reports, was made by that matchless man while he was staying with his kindred at Killbank and Nether Auchenleck. The Syles, which are of a very curious and complicated construction, and exceedingly strong, are made of oak, which, having stood for centuries in one of the smokiest hovels in Scotland, has long ago become quite saturated with soot, and rendered almost incombustible. The feet of the Syles are placed on the ground, with the sides built firmly into the wall; and though the house has been twice burned down to the ground, this venerable relic of Wallace has escaped unharmed. The people around, fond of the memory of their beloved chief, attribute this preservation to the interposition of some superior power; for they contend that Sir William Wallace was not only the greatest hero and most disinterested patriot that the world ever saw, but also an eminent Christian. 

Nether Auchenleck has always been a peculiar haunt of the fairies and other spiritual beings. The late tenant, Alexander Waddel, having, in the course of his improvements, grubbed up a broomy brae where the fairies were wont to hold their revels, incurred the displeasure of these irritable spirits.

“They rade his horses in the night till they were quite blawn, shot his ky, an; did na even haud aff him sell. 

For ae nicht as he was sharpan his saw by the fire-en’, ben cam an elfshot-stane wi’ unco birr frae the door, an’ dang a tuith out o’ the saw. But nae doubt it was ettlet to break his arm, gif no to do him war skaith.”

At another time as he was felling some trees, he perceived an arm strike at him several times with a hatchet; “but the shaft o’ his ain axe was made o’ rowan-tree, sae they could nae harm him.” 

There is a deep glen at Nether Auchinleck, called Hellsgili, wherein a spirit has frequently appeared in the very extraordinary shape of a cart-wheel, or rather of the ring of a cart-wheel, trundling down the brae. It appears always rolling right against the beholder, and often has the eirie night-traveller been terrified that he would be overturned by this whimsical apparition: but after coming bounding from brae to brae, thundering to his very feet, all of a sudden it vanishes, and a loud unearthly laugh, or, as it is expressed in our country dialect, “an eldritch nicheran gaffaw” is heard in the bottom of the ravine.


Anne said...

Great post! Thank you!

Catherine Curzon said...

Thank you!