Tales of ancient brutality we can enjoy today

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Happily perambulating along this coastline searching for tales to tell, we come across the attractive village of Glenluce overlooking Luce Bay. The village’s main claim to fame must lie with the abbey which was founded in 1190 by Roland, Lord of Galloway.

It was a Cistercian abbey which attracted many visitors, including King Robert the Bruce and Mary, Queen of Scots. Excavations have uncovered many interesting artefacts, which showed a way of life more advanced than was expected at such an early time, including clay drain pipes which could intricately lock into one another as proficiently, if not more so, than the modern plastic pipes.

A clay tile was found with a dog’s paw imprint on it and one can imagine the worker angrily cursing the dog as he chased it away, then furtively glancing around hoping a passing monk had not overheard him. In these early days the church owned most of the land in Scotland but, with the Reformation, these lands were broken up and local landlords scrambled to add them to their holdings.

You may remember our tale about Gilbert, Earl of Cassillis, who roasted the abbot of Crossraguel to obtain those lands? Well, he was very much to the fore here, persuading a monk to forge the local abbot’s signature on a lease of the lands to him. He then had the monk murdered and proceeded to execute the murderers for the killing he had instigated. The Kennedys had a lot to answer for in those early ruthless years, never being satisfied with what they had and always finding it necessary to add to their assets by whatever means. Perhaps they felt they had constantly to improve their position so as to be strong enough to ward off the attentions of those who coveted their possessions. In other words, you had to strike first or you would be outsmarted and left to perish.

Another tale in this area concerns the wizard, Michael Scott, who was asked to clear the district of plague. He captured the plague and locked it in a cellar to starve to death. Some local witches wanted it released so Michael insisted that first they had to make ropes out of the sand in Luce Bay. Today if the tides are right, the sand in the bay seems to be twisted into rope like lengths as the witches continue their eternal task. A little tale to explain the odd formation the sand in the bay is left in after certain tides.

All these tales must be received for what they are: tales no doubt told around a fireside in the long winter evenings, some based on fact, but most embellished to excite the listeners. Happily, we do not live in those brutal times but can still enjoy the tales. I look for more and am happy to receive any that readers may have. Just hand them into the Gazette office, stating whether you wish your name to be mentioned.

Life is really just one long tale, so enjoy it.