Customs connected with St. Filans WellScottish Custom regarding May
DewSt. Serf a festival at CulrossPalm Sunday held at LanarkRiding the
Marches at LanarkKilling a Sheep at Lanark Old Custom at KelsoThe
Kings Kase at Ayr Burning the Chaff after deathCreeling the
Bridegroom in BerwickshireMarriage customs and Superstitions in
InvernesshireAncient customs at CarlukeScottish funeral
customsHorse-Racing in ScotlandFarmers Parade in AyrshireShooting
for the Siller Gun at Dumfries.
CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH ST.
ST. FILLANS well, like
some others, was long believed to cure insanity, and the luckless
sufferers received very rough handling to effect this, being thrown from
a high rock down into the well, and then locked up for the night in the
ruined chapel. On the witch elm that shades St. Fillans spring, were
hung the gay rags and scraps of ribbon wherein the saint was supposed to
find delightthe average of two hundred patients were annually brought
to this well. A very important feature in the ceremonial of St. Fillans,
Struthill, and other wells where lunatics were cured, is, that after
their bath in the holy fountain and their surmise processions, they were
tied to a pillar supposed to be far more ancient than the Christian
church wherein it stood. If next morning the patients were found loose
the cure was esteemed perfect and thanks returned to the Saint. To this
well the country women used to carry their weak and delicate children,
and bathe them in the water, leaving some pieces of cloth hanging on the
neighbouring bushes as a present or offering to Celia Fillan the tutular
saint of the parish. This custom was preserved until the middle of last
century, when by the ministers command the well was filled up with
SCOTTISH CUSTOM REGARDING
Early on the morning of
the first of May, young people used to go in parties to the fields to
gather May Dew; to which some ascribed a happy influence and others a
sort of medical virtue. Fair maidens might be seen tripping through the
meadows before sun-rise, having been told by their elders that if they
got up in time to wash their faces with dew before the sun appeared they
would have fine complexions for the remainder of the year.
ST. SERF'S FESTIVAL AT
St. Serf was considered
as the tutelar saint of Culross (this place was at one time famous for
its girdles) in honour of whom there was an annual procession on his
day, viz. 1st July, early in the morning of which all the Inhabitants,
men and women, young and old, assembled and carried green branches
through the town, decking the public places with flowers. The remainder
of the day was devoted to festivity.
OLD CUSTOMS AT LANARK.
In the latest statistical
History of Scotland, it is stated, that until the last thirty years Palm
Sundayprobably the eve of that festival, was observed as a holiday at
the Grammar School; and the scholar who presented the master with the
largest candle-mass offering, was appointed king and walked in
procession with his life-guards and sergeants. The palm or its
substitute, a large tree of the willow kind decked with a profusion of
daffodils was carried before him; also a handsome embroidered flag, the
gift of a lady residing in the town to the boys. The day finished ofl
with a ball.
Another ancient custom,
already described in connection with this place, was the Riding of the
Marches on the Lammas or Landsmerk day. All persons who attended for the
first time were ducked in the river Ususs, in the channel of which one
of the march-stones is placed; and horse and fast races for a pair of
spurs take place upon the moor. The burgh of Lanark from a very early
date possessed an extensive and valuable piece of land in the
neighbourhood, which in the old charters is designated territorum burgh
and it was the duty of the magistrates, burgesses, and freemen to
perambulate the march of their territory, after which a report was drawn
up stating that the March stones had been found in their ancient
position ; this was signed by the witnesses, magistrates, and
transmitted to the Exchequer. This custom is still kept up, although
many modern innovations have crept into the ceremony. The Court who
carries the Standard on the occasions of the processions, undoubtedly
represents the person who, when the burgesses formed an important part
of the armies of our earlier monarchs, was entrusted with the Banner of
the burgh. This custom is of Saxon origin, and was in all probability
instituted here in or subsequent to the reign of Malcolm I.
Mr. Chambers, in his
Popular Rhymes of Scotland, gives the following amusing account of
Lanark in the olden time. It is reported that the burgh of Lanark was in
former days so poor, that the single flasher, of the town, who also
exercised, the calling of a weaver, in order to employ his spare time,
would never dream of killing a sheep until he had received orders for
the entire animal beforehand. Era commencing the work of slaughter he
would call on the minister, the Provost, and the town council, and
prevail upon them to take shares. But if no purchaser appeared for the
fourth quarter, the sheep received a respite until such could be found.
The bellman, or shallyman, as he is called there, used to parade the
streets of Lanark shouting aloud the following advertisement:
Theres a fat sheep to killI
A leg for the Provost
And one for the priest.
The Baillies and Deacons
Theyll take the neist;
And if the fourth leg we cannot sell
The sheep it maim leeve and gae back
Tae the hill.
OLD CUSTOMS AT KELSO.
Of the old Border games,
foot-ball is the only one which is kept up with any degree of spirit. It
was a long established practice for the Hector of the Grammar school and
the other teachers in the town of Kelso to present the king, that is
the boy who made the. most liberal Candlemas offering, with a football,
which formed a source of amusement to the pupils for several weeks
afterwards. The custom formerly connected with this game of the schools
marching in procession through the town with a gilded ball on the top of
a pole has long been abandoned.
THE KINGS EASE AT AYR.
In consequence of King
Robert Bruce having experienced benefit from drinking the waters of a
medicinal spring near the town of Ayr, when afflicted with a scorbutic
disorder which in those days was styled leprosy, after ascending the
throne he founded the priory of Dominican Monks, every one of whom was
under the obligation of putting up prayers for his recovery, daily, and
twice in holidays. After his death those masses were continued for the
salvation of his soul.
King Robert likewise
erected houses round the wellwhich after his recovery was called Kings
Ease or Case,for the accommodation of eight lepers who were each
allowed eight bolls of oat-meal, and 28s. Scotch money per annum. These
donations were levied upon the lands, and are now laid upon the Duke of
Portland. The farm of Shiels, in the neighbourhood of Ayr, was bound to
give, if necessary, straw for the lepers beds, also some to thatch
their houses annually. Each leprous person had a drinking horn presented
to him by the king, which continued to be hereditary in the house to
which it was first granted. Out of compliment to Sir William Wallace,
King Robert Bruce invested his descendants with the right of placing all
the lepers upon the establishment of Kings Ease. This patronage
continued in the family of Craigie, till it was sold with the lands of
the late Sir Thomas Wallace. The burgh of Ayr then purchased the right
of applying the donation of Kings Ease, to the support of the
poor-house of Ayr.
BURNING THE CHAFF AFTER
It was formerly a
national custom for the relatives of the dead, the day after the
funeral, to carry the chaff and bed-straw on which the person had died,
to some hillock in the neighbourhood of the house and there burn them.
CREELING THE BRIDEGROOM IN
The ancient matrimonial
ordeal of creeling the bridegroom was observed at Eccles in a somewhat
different way from other parishes. Once a year, or oftener, according to
circumstances, all the men who had been married within the previous
twelve months were' creeled. With baskets, or creels, fastened on to
their shoulders, they ran at full speed from their own houses to those
of their nearest newly married neighbours, pursued by the unmarried men,
who endeavoured to fill the baskets with stones, while the wives
followed after with knives, striving to relieve them of their burdens by
severing the ropes which attached the creels to their persons.
MARRIAGE CUSTOMS IN THE
When a fishermans
marriage took place in the parish of Avoch the following superstitious
practice was observed with a view, it was said, of thwarting the power
of witchcraft. That was when the bridegrooms party arrived at the
church door, the best man untied the shoe upon the left foot of the
bridegroom, and formed a cross with a nail or a knife upon the right
hand side of the doorthe shoe remaining untied.
The fishermen were
generally married at an early age, and seldom selected a bride above
nineteenThe marriage .was solemnised in the church on a Friday, but
never before twelve oclock. On one occasion, there were three marriages
to take place on one day. The friends of the parties, according to
custom waited upon the minister previously to engage his services. They
were assured he should be in readiness and requested them to fix upon a
convenient 'hour for the three parties to be married at once. The men
looked grave, shook their heads, and said nothing. The minister entirely
at a loss to understand this sudden gravity of countenance, the shaking
of the heads, and the profound silence, begged them to explain their
singular conduct. After some delay and hesitation upon their part, he
was given to understand that were the three parties to be married at
once, the consequences might be most serious, for there would be a
struggle made by each party to get first out of the church, believing us
they did that the party who contrived to be first would carry off the
blessing. To prevent the contention that might take plaice under such
circumstances, the minister offered to marry each party in succession.
But next came the question of precedence, a delicate and difficult point
at all times to settle, at least to every ones satisfaction, a point
the deputies acknowledged they were quite unable to decide. This is not
to be wondered at, considering that each party was anxious to be married
first. After mature deliberation the minister thought fit to propose
that the parties first contracted should be the first married, the
proposal was unanimously agreed to, and the three couples were married
on the Sunday following, in succession, especial care being taken that
neither of the parties should meet the other on the way to and from the
church, because it would be considered unlucky.
ANCIENT CUSTOMS AT CARLUKE.
Ancient customs and
superstitions have rapidly disappeared in the parish of Carluke. About
the middle of last century there might have been seen hanging in some
byres a phial of Lee-Penny Water, to keep the cows from miscarriage in
calving, and to prevent the milk from changing. To obtain the former of
these objects, the barbarous custom of burying a live calf beneath the
steps of the byre door was actually put into execution about that time
by the servants of a respectable proprietor in the neighbourhood.
With regard to Lee-Penny
water, the reputed talisman known as the Lee Penny is called so on
account of its being set in the centre of a coin. This celebrated amulet
was brought to this country by Sir Simon Lockhart of Lee, who
accompanied the good Lord James Douglas to the Holy Land, and was
believed to possess certain valuable properties. The Saracen lady from
whom Sir Simon received the relic in part payment of her husbands
ransom, acquainted him with the manner in which the amulet was to be
used, and the uses to which it might be put, the water in which it was
dipped being reckoned, as she told him, to possess many medicinal
virtues. The Lee Penny, since its arrival on Scottish shores has, it is
said, wrought the most marvellous cures on man and beast, and has been
sent for as far as from the northern counties of England. In the reign
of Charles III. the people of Newcastle, when suffering from the plague,
sent for and obtained a loan of it, depositing the sum of £6000 in its
place as a pledge.
The following orders were
formerly observed in many parts of Scotland at the funerals of all
persons who aimed at respectability of station. In bidding to the
buriall, no hour was mentioned, as ten in the morning was understood to
be the time of assembling, and two or three in the afternoon as that of
lifting, and the intervening time was occupied in treating with
services the various individuals as they arrived ; these services
being interspersed with admonitions, lengthened prayers and graces, when
the mingled worship and entertainment terminated, the people proceeded
to the churchyard after a scout stationed on a rising ground in the
neighbourhood, gave intimation that no additional mourner was seen
approaching the place of meeting. The following wa3 the regular
succession of the services:
1st Service-Bread and
cheese with ale and porter.
2nd Glass of rum with burialbread.
3rd ,, Pipes filled with tobacco. To prepare the pipes was one of the
duties of the women who sat at the late-wake.
4th , Glass of port wine 'with cake.
5th , Glass of sherry with cake.
6th , Glass of whiskey.
7th , Glass of wine not specified.
8th , Thanks returned for the whole.
After which the service
was renewed as soon as another individual made his appearance.
HORSE RACING IN SCOTLAND.
James IV. established
horse-racing as a royal sport, and the first notice of horse-racing in
Britain occurred in his reign. During the reign of Queen Mary, district
horse races were began. In 1552 an annual horse race was established at
Haddington and Lamington.
FARMERS PARADE IN
In former times the
farmers parade or race in the Lochwinnoch district was held on the
first Tuesday of July. The horses were ranged according to their colours,
with a captain at the head of each company, and the whole marched under
the command of a colonel. The hats of the riders were adorned with
ribbons, flowers, and newly shot oats, and some of them had showy sashes
and other ornaments. The trappings of the horses were equally gaudy. One
of the fanners carried a large flag, and they were accompanied by a
piper or a band of instrumental music. Some of those who rode the
fleetest steeds, after the parade was over, tried their speed in a horse
THE OLD CUSTOM AT DUMFRIES
OF SHOOTING FOR THE SILLER GUN.
We are told, that when
James I. went to Dumfries, he was so well pleased with his reception,
that he presented to the town, a small model of a gun in silver, to be
the object of a shooting match at periodical intervals, in imitation of
some such sports, which were exhibited before him, on this occasion. The
siller gun as it is called, has been since shot for every seven years,
in much the same manner as silver arrows have been contended for, by
archers at Musselburgh, Peebles, and St. Andrews. The place of sport, is
a low holm by the side of the Kith, about a mile below the town, called
the Kings Holm. But this festival of the siller gun, has of late years
been unpopular, from the number of accidents by which it is so
disagreeably characterized. It unfortunately happens, that the important
part of the festival, termed the Drinking, is never postponed as it
ought to be, till the termination of the sport, but diffused generally
throughout its continuance. The consequence is, that the whole scene
becomes one of riot and outrage. To show that people are not prevented
from shooting when :a state of intoxication, a case is recorded of a man
having once fired, when so overcome by liquor, that the gun was held for
him by his friends, and yet he hit the mark, and was declared victor,
though it was said, he was not aware of his good fortune, nor conscious
of the honours that were paid him till next morning. In his ballad of
the Siller Gun, John Mayne has celebrated the annual commemoration of
the festival. The following verses, are illustrative of the orgies
practised on the occasion :
Louder grew the busy hum
Of friends rejoicing as they come,
Wi double vis the drummers drum
The pint stoups clatter,
And bowls o negus, milk, and rum
Flew round like water.
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