Arran of the Bens, The Glens and the Brave Chapter
VI. The Caves of Arran
Close to the great fort at Drumadoon is the famous cave at the base of
the hill known as Tor an Righ, or King's Hill, which the sea has
worn out of the sandstone. The roof is arched, and the place
lofty and spacious, and on the walls are primitive drawings of
dogs and horses engaged in the chase, probably dating from
prehistoric times, and, according to tradition, intended to
represent Fion. In this cave also Bruce and his followers found
shelter during their wanderings in the island, and there are the
"King's kitchen," stable, and larder.
THE PREACHING CAVE AT
Enough of fame attaches to the great cave at
Drumadoon, for has it not sheltered both the gods in the person
of Fion and his friends, and kings in the person of Bruce? Has
it not also been of service to common humanity in sheltering
many a keg of good spirits, many a bale of good silk, many a
pound of fragrant tobacco? Has it not seen more than one tussle
between the men of the Revenue cutters which sailed up and down
watching the audacious smugglers of Arran and Kintyre? Was not a
daring member of the Clan Innain shot somewhere in these parts
in an encounter of the kind? So Drumadoon, having served all
classes, gods, kings, lords, and commons, need not usurp the
glory of the cave in which another member of the Clan MacKinnon
made his mark as one of the many noted preachers of Arran. In
this cave Mr. Peter Craig, a man greatly liked for his ability
and his geniality, held a school for many years which rivalled
that of the village schoolmaster, and turned out many good
scholars, who afterwards filled important positions in Glasgow
and other towns.
The Preaching Cave was also sometimes used
for the ordinary Sunday services. Largest of all the Arran caves
is that known as the Monster Cave at Bennan Head, which has also
been used for religious services at different times. Many
ancient stone implements and other remains of primitive life
have been found amongst the rubbish on the floor of this place.
The early Scottish missionaries made use of many of the caves of
the West Highlands as dwelling-places, and it has bee.n
suggested by Mr. Lyteill that the word "Piper's" cave so often
applied to them is really the word Pypar, a priest. The dog and
piper story which we have all heard would thus probably have
arisen from the supposition that the word referred to the
ordinary profane piper.
THE WONDROUS BAUL OF
Martin, in his Western Islands, published in 1703,
gives a description of the famous healing-stone which is still
preserved by the Crawford family. Martin says: "I had like to
have forgot a valuable curiosity in this isle, which they call '
Baul muluy,' i.e. Molingus, his Stone Globe. This saint was
Chaplain to MackDonald of the Isles; his name is celebrated here
on account of this Globe, so much esteemed by the inhabitants.
This stone, for its intrinsic value, has been carefully
transmitted to posterity for several ages. It is a green stone,
much like a globe in figure, about the bigness of a goose egg.
The virtues of it is to remove stitches from the sides of sick
persons, by laying it close to the place affected, and if the
patient does not outlive the distemper they say the stone moves
out of the bed of its own accord, and e contra. The natives use
this stone for swearing decisive oaths upon it. They ascribe
another extraordinary virtue to it, and 'tis thisthe credulous
vulgar firmly believe that if this stone is cast among the front
of an enemy they will all run away, and that as often as the
enemy rallies, if this stone is cast among them, they will lose
courage and retire.
"They say that MackDonald of the Isles
carried this stone about him, and that victory was always on his
side when he threw it among the enemy. The custody of this globe
is the peculiar privilege of a little family called Clan
Chattons, alias Mackintosh. They were ancient followers of
MackDonald of the Isles. This stone is now in the custody of
Margaret Miller, alias Mackintosh. She lives at Bell-mianich,
and preserves the globe with abundance of care. It is wrapped in
a fair linen cloath, and about that there is a piece of woollen
cloath, and she keeps it still locked up in her chest, when it
is not given out to exert its qualities."
One has to be
careful of these things, and it is well to note that the ball
has one serious disadvantage, which those who may wish to avail
themselves of its healing qualities should keep in remembrance,
else they might be regarded as guilty of manslaughter or worse.
It is that, when the person who carries the globe enters the
house of the sick person, the first living thing that crosses
the line of his path must die, whether it be as small as a
butterfly or as large as the ploughman and four horses who,
happening to get into the same latitude, fell down dead in Glen
Scorra some time since.
It is a little discouraging to know
that the globe is somewhat damaged through misadventure, showing
clearly that the physician had not power to heal itself.
its quality in aiding swearing it is also a little out of date,
and we doubt a week in Cowcaddens, the Candlerigs, or in
White-chapel would fit one out with a fuller vocabulary than
even Baul Muluy.
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