It is easy to imagine supernatural stories in lonely, desolate or eery places in the landscape. Local man Jack Cockburn describes a scary tale his grandmother had told him, which she had been told by her mother, who ‘knew all these stories of the hills’ about a place now known as the ‘Foul Ford’. Walking back from a funeral in Kelso, a blacksmith from Longformacus, of family name Neal, took a short cut across Greenlaw Moor. He had been at the funeral of a local dignitary and as Cockburn elaborates ‘probably had one dram after another and set off for home’. The blacksmith took a short cut and didn’t get home until the wee small hours. The next day he asked to see the minister and confided his terror of seeing the devil, riding on a black funeral hearse and chasing him, threatening ‘first time you or any of your family come this way, I will have you’. The blacksmith asked the minister to warn all members of Neal family never use the short cut from Greenlaw to Longformacus or ‘they would rue the day’.

Years later, the blacksmith’s son came back late from Greenlaw on a summer night but ‘young Neal never came home at all’. His body was found, all bruised and scratched with what appeared to be ‘deep claw marks on his face and all over him’. His death was shrouded in mystery.

Listen to his story here:

Cockburn, John W, School of Scottish Studies
Archive SA1966.019, Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches,, accessed 7 March 2020