The Dark Knight of Kilbryde

a young lady of the Cromlix family fell deeply in love. However, the ruthless Knight taking advantage of the violent passion this lady entertained of him, lured her…

Written By John Monteath

Edited by David White

The Castle of Kilbryde, near Dunblane, said to have been founded by “Sir John of the Bright Sword,” in 1460, is very romantically situated. Amid the dusky foliage of lofty planes, that for centuries have braved the angriest storms of winter, and on the very brow of a deep and rugged glen, ornamented with a profusion of natural shrubbery, woodbine, and wild flowers, this interesting specimen of ancient Scottish masonry rises in gloomy and majestic pride.

In the dark ages of ignorance, feudal warfare, and superstition, the scenery about this castle was too wildly picturesque not to have had attached to its grottos, ravines, and dark recesses a quant, suff. of every variety of those superstitious bugbears of the imagination, which many viewed as inseparably associated with every idea of danger and bloody conflict. We are able to discover vestiges of the ancient legends of the castle from still existing remnants of ancient oral tale passed down through the generations.

Here, we are told, that in ancient times, when a warlike chieftain of the Graham family of Kilbryde was soon to die is service to his subjects, or in the service of his country, his bloody apparition might be seen at ” twilight grey,” stalking amongst the loosely-hanging cliffs, or hollow crevices of the rifted rocks of Kilbryde Glen ; while the long galleries of the castle mournfully resounded to the deep wailings of guardian spirits, foretelling the unavoidable and approaching event.

Several instances of such occurrences are known of by our local oral authorities, but the particulars are lost. However, we have managed to piece together one take through a variety of oral fragments: 

The Barony of Cromlix was of considerable extent and was long the paternal estate of a very ancient and honourable family of the name of Chisholm. With a Sir Malise Graham, called ” The Black Knight of Kilbryde,” a young lady of the Cromlix family fell deeply in love. However, the ruthless Knight taking advantage of the violent passion this lady entertained of him, lured her from her “father’s ha’,” seduced, and afterwards basely murdered her. Her distraught parents consulted every second-sighted seer and astrologer in the country to no purpose— although the Black Knight should alone have been applied to, as he only knew of his dreaded actions.

It was latterly rumoured that Kilbryde Castle was haunted by a ghaist, and that it had been seen of different persons, arrayed in the white robes of death, sullied with blood. Shortly after these sightings it was made known that the Black Knight had been slain in battle, where, dying in great agony, the last word he was heard to utter was the name Chisholm. But the death of her seducer and murderer did not appease the spirit of the murdered lady.

The ghost of the betrayed lady appeared frequently, and for some time afterwards, to different inmates of Kilbrydo Castle, beckoning those to approach, although none of the servants had nerve sufficient to risk a midnight encounter with a spirit not of this world. It was reserved to the resolute courage of a succeeding Knight, to set the matter at rest. He had been heard to declare, that should this wraith be a ” goblin damned,” or a messenger from the lower regions of the universe, he should like, from a personal interview, to know why it so cowardly and dastardly, under shade of night, dared to annoy his servants and vassals, and did not venture to accost himself. It was not long after that he obtained a gratification of his presumptuous and, considering the general belief of the times, rashly-expressed wish. The Knight, however, was brave, and “fair play cared na de’ils a bodle.”

One dark evening, at a late hour, the ghost saluted him at his own garden gate, and signified to him he should follow. With some hesitation he did so, through the rustling underwood to the glen below, where the spot was shown at which his predecessor had perpetrated the unhallowed deed and buried the bloody corpse. Here the ” departed shade ” of the once beautiful Lady Ann joined the Knight and addressed him asking him to perform certain things which she divulged to him. And most faithfully did he acquit himself of his engagements.

The mortal remains of the murdered lady were removed, and received Christian burial—the troubled ghost retired to the shades of its ancestors—and the melancholy story was thenceforth caught hold of by the bards and minstrels of Kilbryde, the foregoing fragment of which has been recovered from the recital of a genuine oralist, after a lapse of many generations.

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