The darker side of folklore witnesses witches, devils and death in the cultural landscape. Murder, plague and body snatchers abound!

Bonkyl Churchyard with grave stones in the foreground.

A midnight funeral

In the middle of the night a local man meets, to his horror, a funeral party coming down the road towards him.

Preston Church by Brian Edwards.

Guarding a body

Body snatchers and grave robbers were at large in the 1700 and 1800s. Hear how a young boy took guard of his grandfather’s coffin.

Bonkyl Churchyard.

Murder of Lady Billy

A stone at old Bunkle Kirk once read ‘Mrs Margaret Home, Lady Billy, murdered August 1751’. The incident is also remembered in this old and quite gruesome rhyme.

Engraving of the devil chasing a man on horseback, with signpost 'to hell', by Robert Cruikshank, before 1856.

The devil and the blacksmith

An old story tells of how a blacksmith from Longformacus met the devil at the ‘Foul Ford’. For many years this place was thought to be haunted.

Pools in the Whiteadder River gorge below Elba suspension bridge.

Omen of death

Peter Darling saw a ghost and was sure it was an omen of his own death. He drowned a few days later in the Whiteadder Water.

Nicholas Culpeper. Line engraving, 1655.

Preston plague onions

During a time of plague of the 1600s, Preston villagers are said to have tried out an unusual cure.

Drawing entitled 'The North Berwick Witches meet the Devil in the local kirkyard', from contemporary pamphlet 'Newes from Scotland', printed in 1591.

Witch of the Whiteadder?

Lady Helen Manderston of Manderston House was one of many local people accused of witchcraft in the 1600s.

Detail from an old map showing the location of Hells Cradle, near Elba.

The Cousins

This fascinating but tragic poem was discovered during our project research. It retells an actual event which happened at Hell’s Cradle.