Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/412

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370 Old- World Survivals in Ross-shire.

be buried in the family grave ; but this was not at all relished by the community, and after a good deal of wrang- ling she was interred in a remote corner of the churchyard, well out of sight of the sea.

More than a generation ago, a certain Englishman, who happened to be staying in our neighbourhood, committed suicide, and in spite of all protests he was buried by his relatives in full sisfht of the Loch. So indignant were the natives at this violation of their traditions that one night shortly afterwards, a party of them disinterred him at mid- night, carried the remains away to another churchyard in an inland parish ten miles away, and there re-buried him. It must have been a very grim sort of performance ; though grimmer still is another rite which to this day, is, I am told, practised sub rosa in connection with this self-same person. It is, I believe, a fact, that the skull of this long- dead Englishman is lying perdu somewhere about the churchyard, its whereabouts being known only to one or two privileged individuals, and is used by epileptics to drink out of; a common belief being that if these unfortunates drink out of the skull of a suicide, the complaint will be cured. Only last summer, a woman whose son is afflicted in this way, said to me, " Oh ! we have done everything for him and tried every known cure ; we had him prayed for in church, and we even sent down for so and so's skull (men- tioning the Englishman) to see if it would do any good ! "

Here is another curious practice in connection with epi- lepsy which I saw carried out many years ago, and which is, I suppose, a survival of old pagan sacrificial rites. A child belonging to a family whom I know well, was suddenly seized with convulsions, and its relatives would have it that the child had epilepsy. Accordingly, emissaries were sent through the parish to procure a black cock^ without a single white feather, and without blemish of any kind. This latter is important ; the finer the animal the more readily does the spell work. Well then, a cock was