Archaeological Journal/Volume 7/Discovery of Ancient Ornaments at Largo, Fifeshire

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
4099436Archaeological Journal, Volume 7 — Discovery of Ancient Ornaments at Largo, Fifeshire1850


In the Notice of the valuable deposit found in a tumulus at Largo (Journal, vol. vi., p. 259), allusion was made to a tradition of treasure there concealed. Some persons, however, had questioned the fact of such popular belief, prior to the discovery. Mr. Dundas has referred us to the curious account of such a tradition, connected with the locality, and the existence of which, long before the discovery at Norrie's Law, is undeniable. The singular story may be found in the interesting collection, "Popular Rhymes of Scotland," edited by Robert Chambers. It is believed by the peasantry living near Largo Law, the mountain adjoining to the spot in question, that a rich mine of gold is therein concealed. A spectre once appeared there, supposed to be the genius of the mine, who, being accosted by a neighbouring shepherd, promised to tell him at a certain time, and on certain conditions, where the "gowd mine is in Largo Law;" especially enjoining that the horn, sounded for the housing of the cows at the adjacent farm of Balmain, should not blow. Every precaution having been taken, the ghost was true to his tryst; but unhappily, when about to divulge the desired secret, Tammie Norrie, the cowherd of Balmain, blew a blast loud and dread. Whereupon the ghost vanished, with the denunciation,—

"Woe to the man that blew the horn,
For out of the spot he shall ne'er be borne!"

The unlucky horn-blower was struck dead; it was found impossible to remove the body, and a cairn of stones was raised over it. This was the supposed origin of Norrie's Law, a hillock always regarded as "not canny" by the common people. Mr. Dundas added the testimony of an aged woman, who had always lived near the spot, and to whom this obscure tradition had been known from childhood. She had, moreover, never heard of the discovery of silver objects related in this Journal. Mr. Dundas stated that he had ascertained the period when the treasure was found, to be the year 1819.