'Its no weel mow'd! Its no weel mow'd! – Then its ne'er be mow'd by me again, I'll scatter it owre the Raven Stane, And they'll hae some wark e'er its mow'd again!'
George Henderson (1800-1864) collected many old rhymes and poems from this area and believed that this short poem is about a brownie, which is a sort of hardworking fairy, common in Scottish folklore and traditional customs. A brownie is meant to have lived at Cranshaws Castle two miles from here.
Brownies were believed to work hard while the residents of the house or farm were sleeping, so people would leave offerings of food out to try and get the fairy’s help with the harvest.
In the rhyme the brownie takes offence when its work is criticised and throws the whole harvest over Raven Craig. In Henderson’s book ‘The Popular Rhymes, Sayings and Proverbs of the County of Berwick’, 1856, he explains:
‘In old time, Cranshaws was the habitation of an industrious Brownie … This Brownie both whinned the corn and thrashed it, and that for several successive seasons. … It at length happened one harvest, that after he had brought the whole victual into the barn, some one remarked that he had not mowed it very well, that is, not piled it up neatly at the end of the barn; whereat the spirit took such offence, that he threw the whole of it next night over the Raven Craig, a precipice about two miles off, and the people of the farm had almost the trouble of a second harvest in gathering it up again.’
It was also believed that if a household wanted to get rid of a brownie, they should leave some clothing out for it. Henderson describes:
‘If the inmates of a house, where a Brownie frequented, whished to get rid of his services or presence, they had nothing to do but leave out for him a new coat or mantle; hence one of those spirits, where this had been done, was heard to take his leave of the house, in these words—’
‘A new mantle, and a new hood —Poor Brownie, ye’ll ne’er do mair good. ‘