FORRESTER’S CIRCLE

Frae: R. De Bruce Trotter, Galloway Gossip (1901), pp. 251-253

YIN o’ my sons publish’t the original story, but A may joost gie a kin o’ sketch o’t here.

It wus a man they ca’t Adam Forrester, an he wus the laird o’ Knocksheen in the Kells, an he had been drinkin at Lucky Hare’s at Unnerhill, in the Clachan o’ Da’ry, but he wus far frae fu whun he left.

He had a kin o’ notion o’ Lucky Hare, an use’t tae plague her aboot sellin hersel tae the deil tae gar her look young an bonnie.

His wey hame wus doon the aul’ road atween the kirkyaird an the moat, across the Ken at the ford, bye Craiggubble Inn, an up alang the bridle road ower Waterside hill, an hame that wey.

Whun he wus gaun doon bye the moat he heard the soon’ o’ a fiddle in the aul’ kirk, an he wunner’t whut a fiddle could be doin there; an as he rade alang in sicht o’t, he saw a licht in the wundas. It wus a fine clear starlicht nicht, but nae mune, sae it couldna be the munelicht streamin through the wundas; an his curiosity gar’t him ride on tae see whut it wuss, for there wus nae dyke than.

He could har’ly get the beast up tae tae the wunda, but whun he did, an lookit in, he saw aul’ Davie M’Clemmet, yt had been bedridden for twunty year, stannin in the pulpit fiddlin awa like mad, an a hail lot o’ men an women dancin in the body o’ the kirk, as yaul as if nane o’ them wus twunty.

Ye see they hadna pews in the aul’ kirk than.

He sat an lookit at them a gude while, an he ken’t maist every yin o’ them; a gey wheen o’ them aul’ dune buddies, cripple’t or bedridden, an a wheen mae o’ them decent respectable men an women, some o’ them elders o’ the kirk, yt naebuddy wud ever ‘a’ suspectit.

It was maistly reels they dance’t, an there wus yin yauler nor the lave, yt the deil maistly had for a pairtner – for he wus yin o’ the dancers – but Forrester couldna get a sicht o’ her face for a lang time. At last there wus a threesome reel, an “Aul’ Sandy” wus yin o’ the set, an the yaul lass wus anither; an hoo she dance’t! he had never seen ocht like it; but his een fairly set in his heid whun he gat a glisk o’ her face, an fun oot it wus nae ither nor Lucky Hare herself, yt he had been tell’t wus oot at a howdyin.

Whun the reel wus ower he put his mooth tae a brokken pen o’ the wunda, an cry’t in – “Weel dance’t, Lucky Hare! ye’ll no deny this the morn.”

Wi that the yells begood, an the cursin an sweerin wus awsome, an Forrester thocht it wus time tae be oot o’ that, an set spurs tae his beast, an doon the brae an through the ford; an by the time he gat tae Craiggubble the haill crew o’ them wus at his heels, scraichin as if they had been a’ deevils thegither.

He up the hill as hard as he could gallop, but by the time he gat tae the tap the beast wus dune, an the wutches makin fast up on him; sae he lap aff in the middle o’ a wee bit meadow, an takin the beast by the bridle, pu’t oot his sword, an drew a score on the grun wi’t in the name o’ Gude, sayin – “A draw this score in the name o’ Gude Almichty, an may nae evil thing ever pass ower’t.”

By this time they wur close at him, an flew at him like as mony teegers, but whun they cam tae the score they startit suddenly back, an couldna wun ower’t, but stood cursin an threatnin him, an tryin tae fley the beast, tae gar’t push Forrester ower the score, till they wud get haud o’ him.

Yae time it startit a bit, an yae side o’ the hip gaed ower, an the deevil claucht at the tail wi the yae han, an gat a haud o’ the naur hip wi the ither, an try’t tae draw’t ower, but Forrester contrive’t tae draw’t in again; only the deil wudna let gae the tail, an it pairtit on the edge o’ the score, an Aul’ Sandy gat it an keepit it.

Efter a while the cock o’ The Cairnford craw’t, an the minute the wutches heard it their pooer depairtit, an they disappear’t, an Forrester bade till daylicht, an gaed aff hame.

The gress a’ roon him, tae the verra edge o’ the score, wus scowder’t tae the mools, an for three or fowr yairds ootside; but that inside wusna touch’t, an afore leavin he gaed doon an thankit the Lord for his miraculous escape.

COMMEMORATION

BURNS

Notes

Lowran Castle, or the Wild Boar of Curridoo: with other tales, illustrative of the superstitions, manners, and customs of Galloway by Robert Trotter ‘Student of Medicine’ wus published in 1822. The tale is telt in Forester the Dauntless. The Ordnance Survey Name Book records the site as The Score in 1853. The final paragraph o Forester the Dauntless (p. 111) gies us an earlier name:

“The witch score drawn by young Knocksheen, is seen to the present day on Waterside hill, in the parish of Kells; and for many a year Captain Newall, of Waterside, and his brother Charles, cleaned it every Halloween morning with their own hands, and drank a cup of the best claret in their cellar, to the memory of FORESTER THE DAUNTLESS.” [Lowran Castle at Google Books]

The Ordnance Survey Name Book entry haes Forrester disturbin fairies no wutches:

“The Score: A small oval shaped portion of land on the farm of Waterside. it is about 8 ft. by 4, marked by a small trench about 12 inches by 6. Tradition says that at one time while a farmer was on his way home from Dalry, he had halted about the church and disturbed the Fairies (It is said in those times that the church had been a haunt of Fairies) from which they pursued & overtook him at this place, it appears he had a sword with him which he immediately drew it and scored this small portion of ground (& remained in till morning) in the name of the almighty, and the Fairies immediately fled out of his Sight, hence the name.” [OS1/20/36/23]

Partial Glossar

Definitions frae DSL (links are tae the relevant entries).

  • Gar ‘To make, cause; to force, compel, esp. to make (a person) do (something).’ [GAR]
  • Yaul ‘Active, sprightly, alert, vigorous, strong, healthy.’ [YAULD]
  • Gey ‘Of quantity or amount: considerable, good, great, good-sized.’ [GEY]
  • Wheen ‘A few, a small number, several.’ [WHEEN]
  • Lave ‘What is left over, the rest, the remainder, the others, of persons or things.’ [LAVE]
  • Aul’ Sandy ‘The Devil.’ [SANDIE]
  • Ocht ‘Anything.’ [OCHT]
  • Een ‘Eyes.’ [EE]
  • Glisk ‘A glance, a cursory look, a peep, a glimpse’ [GLISK]
  • Howdyin ‘Delivery of a child.’ [HOWDIE]
  • Begood ‘past tense of begin’ [BEGOOD]
  • Scraich ‘To shriek, scream, shout.’ [SKRAICH]
  • Lowp (past tense lap) ‘To leap.’ [LOWP]
  • Wun ‘= Eng. get: (1) to make or find one’s way, to proceed, pass on, to succeed in arriving at some destination, freq. with the notion of surmounting obstacles on the way.’ [WIN]
  • Fley ‘To frighten, scare, terrify.’ [FLEY]
  • Claucht ‘To grasp, seize forcibly, clutch.’ [CLAUGHT]
  • Scowder ‘To burn, scorch, singe.’ [SCOWDER]
  • Mools ‘Soil which has been broken up in the course of cultivation, pulverised earth.’ [MUILD]
  • Bide ‘To stay.’ [BIDE]