The Devil’s Dead

Time seems to have passed so quickly again! I have been researching the new book ‘Haunted Kirkcaldy’, which is due out next year. The publishers requirements are solely ghost stories, but in my research I have come up with so many stories of folklore and mythology that it seems a shame not to use them! Although I can’t use them in the ‘Haunted’ book, I am now planning to write another book covering myths and legends of Scotland at the same time. It takes a lot to write two books simultaneously,  but this will allow me to go between them both so if one line of research results in a ghost story, it goes in the haunted book, but if it ends with a tale of folklore, it goes in the myths book.

The book on myths will be similar to the ghost story books I have written so far. Rather than simply tell the story, I will be visiting as many locations as I can so I can experience the atmosphere and take some photographs for the book. The stories are, in my opinion, too good not to write about. Stories like the great wizard of the north, Sir Michael Scot of Balwearie. He was an astrologer and mathematician, but also said to be in possession of a book of spells, so powerful that he could summon and control demons. Legend has it that he used a demon horse for many travels, including one to Pairs on behalf of the King of Scots who wanted France to agree to stop their attacks on Scottish ships. The King of France initially refused, so Scot warned him that his horse would stamp it’s hoof three times. The first time, the bells of the city would ring, the second time the towers of the castle would fall, and the third time the whole of Paris would fall. The King of France refused, and the horse stamped it’s hoof. The bells of the city rang, but the King of France was not convinced it was anything other than an elaborate trick. The horse stamped it’s hoof again and the towers of the castle crumbled and fell. The King of France had no idea how this could be happening but, seeing the horse raise it’s hoof again, he agreed to call off any attacks on Scottish ships rather than risk the consequences of the final stamp from the hoof of the demon horse.

Although Scot could summon demons, not all were easy to control and, on one occasion he is said to have summoned the Devil himself. Scot found controlling the Devil particularly difficult as he kept asking what task he had been summoned to complete. Scot assigned him tasks, which the Devil completed very quickly before returning to ask for another task. No matter what task the Devil was asked to do, he completed it within minutes and plagued Scot with requests for new tasks. Eventually Scot grew weary of the persistence of the Devil, who was clearly trying to break any control Scot had on the demons, and so he decided to give the Devil a task that would get rid of him once and for all. Scot ordered the Devil to weave an endless rope from the grains of sand on nearby Kirkcaldy beach, a task that was impossible even for the Devil to complete, and Scot was never bothered by the Devil again. Many say the Devil grew so weary with the never ending task, that he eventually died on the beach, leading to the Jacobite Poem which concludes:

Some say the De’il’s Deid, and buried in Kirkcaldy

These are just a small part of the tales relating to the Wizard of Balwearie, the rest will be covered in the forthcoming mythology book and I’ll soon be visiting the ruins of Balwearie Castle, along with many other sites connected to Sir Michael Scot.

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