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History of West Calder
Appendix II. Killin Dean


In these pages I have not hesitated to insert traditions when thought of sufficient local importance probably, or interest. In fact, I have followed on the scent of traditions, which, in some instances, led me to the historical facts on which they were founded. Regarding West Calder Burn, or Killin' Water (as I find it so named on the oldest maps I have seen) there is a tradition as to how it got that name. “My grandmother told me there was an awful battle fought on it once,” says T. S., who: knows more about West Calder than most people. That view is treated and disputed in the following lines. But here is a tradition that I cannot so easily get over, and I give it as I got it. “I have often heard my father say that when the masons were digging for the foundation of Pie Jock's house, they most unexpectedly came upon a cellar, if not two, that no one could account for,” says J. B. Now, having once seen on a small island in Keswick Lake what is pointed out as the ruins of St Herbert’s Chapel, or under ground cell (see Wordsworth’s Excursionist) I have some idea how these things were built. Sometimes they were hewn out of solid stone, as at Warkworth, Northumberland, (see Marmion,) and Hov, in Orkney. Some people that I have consulted, are inclined to think these vaults at West Calder belonged to smugglers, who frequented this road from Boness via CauldStoneSlap on their way to England, when the Excise duties were higher there than Scotland. Smugglers, however, were very unlikely to build any such place, but may have discovered its existence and used it occasionally.

A more probable theory is that it belonged to the Brewery or Malt House, said to have once adjoined this very spot. If so, it is a pity we have no history of the said brewery, which, in any case, would be a small affair, and is as likely to have found these vaults as to have built them.

Besides, how came the name Killin Kil, or Kill; Kell, Cell, Sel, or Zell are all prefixes meaning a place of worship, or burial, e.g., Kells, Kelso, Killin (Perthshire), Selkirk, Cellerdyke, &c., &c. With this explanation, the following lines or conversation may be worth recording :—






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