The Gold of Largo Law

It is supposed by the people who live in the neighbourhood of Largo Law in Fife, that there is a very rich mine of gold under and near the mountain….

By Robert Chambers

It is supposed by the people who live in the neighbourhood of Largo Law in Fife, that there is a very rich mine of gold under and near the mountain, which has never yet been properly searched for. So convinced are they of the verity of this, that whenever they see the wool of a sheep’s side tinged with yellow, they think it has acquired that colour from having lain above the gold of the mine.

A great many years ago, a ghost made its appearance upon the spot, supposed to be laden with the secret of the mine; but as it of course required to be spoken to before it would condescend to speak, the question was, who should take it upon himself to go up and accost it. At length a shepherd, inspired by the all-powerful love of gold, took courage, and demanded the cause of its thus “revisiting”. The ghost proved very affable, and requested a meeting on a particular night, at eight o’clock, when, said the spirit:

                  ‘ If Auchindownie cock disna craw,                                                                          And Balmain horn disna blaw,                                                                                  I’ll tell ye where the gold mine is in Largo Law.’

The shepherd took what he conceived to be effectual measures for preventing any obstacles being thrown in the way of his becoming custodier of the important secret, for not a cock, old, young, or middle-aged, was left alive at the farm of Auchindownie ; while the man who, at that of Balmain, was in the habit of blowing the horn for the housing of the cows, was strictly enjoined to dispense with that duty on the night in question. The hour was come, and the ghost, true to its promise, appeared, ready to divulge the secret; when Tammie Norrie, the cow-herd of Balmain, either through obstinacy or forgetfulness, ‘ blew a blast both loud and dread,’ and I may add, ‘ were ne’er prophetic sounds so full of woe,’ for, to the shepherd’s mortal disappointment, the ghost vanished, after exclaiming:

                 ‘ Woe to the man that blew the horn.                                                                     For out of the spot he shall ne’er be borne.’

In fulfilment of this denunciation, the unfortunate horn-blower was struck dead upon the spot ; and it being found impossible to remove his body, which seemed, as it were, pinned to the earth, a cairn of stones was raised over it, which, now grown into a green hillock, is still denominated Norrie’s Law, and regarded as uncanny by the common people. This place is situated upon the farm of Fairyfield, which was formerly the patrimonial property of the celebrated Dr Archibald Pitcairn.

In recent years it has become known that the above, taken down from tradition in 1825, has, through chance or otherwise, had a basis in fact. Archaeologists are now well acquainted with the discovery of the silver relics of Norrie’s Law. From Dr John Stuart’s beautiful book on the Sculptured Stones of Scotland, we learn that the first discovery of the said relics was about 1819, when a man digging sand at the place called Norrie’s Law, found a cist or stone coffin containing a suit of – scale-armour, with shield, sword-handle, and scabbard, all of silver

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