It wouldn't be Halloween time without a look at Inverclyde's favourite Warlock; landed gentry turned evil witchlord..Alexander Lindsay of Dunrod.
It was rumoured that Dunrod became involved with witches living on his lands in Inverkip, gathering with them at Dunrod’s Seat, located on the slope of Dunrod Hill. Further rumours suggested that he entertained the Devil himself at his castle. It is worth noting the possibility that Dunrod had inherited his connections to the practice of witchcraft from the Lindsays; it is now thought in some circles that members of the nobility at that time were involved in a highly organised cult which they used for their own means. Some would argue they still are.
The image of Dunrod as a dark and powerful Warlock is a far cry from the man he was at the end of his life; he was a penniless hermit, his lands having been seized by the Kirk in recompense for his evil deeds, selling charms and potions at the Greenock riverside to any who would entertain him. Dunrod died soon after in a barn on his former lands in
As recently as a century ago, parents enforced children’s bedtimes with the chilling promise that ‘Auld Dunrod’ would get them. Thus, this larger than life character has become woven irrevocably into the folklore of the area, celebrated in numerous tales passed from generation to generation, and most famously in two anonymous poems commemorating his dark deeds.
“The Ballad of Auld Dunrod” is thought not to have been written down until more than a century after Dunrod’s death, and was probably composed while Dunrod was extant. Presented in its fullest original form, the poem chronicles his black deeds, and ends rather cryptically with Dunrod flying on his broomstick to the Bogle Stone; this, in turn, gave rise to a second poem, “Auld Dunrod’s Vision at The Bogle Stane”. The second piece was composed a good many years later than its companion, and gives an account of a mystical vision Dunrod experienced at the Bogle Stone, concerning Inverclyde’s past, present and future. At this point he may have been "drucken on the barley bree".
You can still see our short experimental film featuring a recording of the poem by our old english teacher on youtube. And Dunrod randomly makes 21st Century appearances via his evil facebook page and haunted twitter account.
This recording of "The Balld of Auld Dunrod" was made for our Downriver project. It features
Jim Lang and some appropriate spooky noises.
Jim Lang : The Ballad of Auld Dunrod by Auld Dunrod
The Ballad Of Auld Dunrod
Auld Dunrod was a gowstie carl,
As ever ye micht see;
And gin he wisna’ a warlock wicht,
There was nane in the haill countrie.
Auld Dunrod he stack a pin -
A boutrie pin - in the wa’,
And when he wanted his neighbour’s milk
He just gaed the pin a thraw.
He milkit the Laird o’ Kellies kye,
And a’ the kye o’ Dunoon;
And auld Dunrod gat far mair milk
Than wad mak’ a gabbert swim.
The cheese he made were numerous,
And wonerous to descry
For the kyth’t as gin they had been grule
Or peats set up to dry.
And there was nae cumerauld man about
Wha cam’ to him for skill,
That gif he dadna dae him guid,
He didna dae him ill.
But the kirk got word o’ Dunrod’s tricks,
And the Session they took him hand;
And naething was left but auld Dunrod
Forsooth maun leave the land.
Sae auld Dunrod he muntit his stick -
His broomstick muntit he -
And he flychter’t twa’r three times aboot,
And syne through the air did flee.
And he flew awa’ by auld
And by the
Ye wadna kent him in his flicht
Be a buddock or a craw.
And he flew to the Rest and be Thankfu’ Stane -
A merry auld carle was he;
He stottit and fluffer’t as he had been wud.
Or drucken wi’ the barley bree.
But a rountree grew at the stane -
It is there unto this day,
And gin ye dinna find it still,
Set doun that it’s away.
And he ne’er wist o’ the rountree
Till he cam dunt thereon;
His magic broomstick tint its spell,
And he daudit on the stone.
His heid was hard, and the Stane was sae,
And whan they met ane anither,
It was hard to say what wad be the weird
Of either the tane or the tither.
But the Stane was muilt like a lampet shell,
And sae was Auld Dunrod;
When ye munt a broomstick to tak a flicht,
Ye had best tak anither road.
The neighbours gathert to see the sicht,
The Stane’s remains they saw;
But as for Auld Dunrod himsel’,
He was carriet clean awa’.
And monie noy’t, as weill they micht,
The Rest and be Thankfu’ Stane;
And ilk ane said it had been better far,
Gin Dunrod had staid at hame.
And what becam o’ Auld Dunrod
Was doubtfu’ for to say,
Some said he wasna there ava,
But flew anither way.
goustie - ghostly, unearthly
boutrie - of the elder tree
Laird o Kellie - Bannatyne, the Laird of Kellie in Innerkip Parish
soum - make a lighter swim
grule - appeared as if they had, like moss, ben baked in the sun
flychterit - fluttered
huddock - from a carrion crow
wud - bounded and whisked about
barley bree - ale
rountree - mountain ash
daudit - fell violently down
muilt - crushed
noy’t - blamed
ava - at all
And in closing, we were delighted today to see this bit on the BBC news, and in fact all over the press; a local Greenock school, defending their right to Go Galoshans! Well done Aileymill.