Corgarff Castle in the Grampian Hills

The castle shown above is typical of the small fortress/square tower style of castle built in the middle ages in Scotland. It probably dates back to the 11th or 12th Century, when stout walls kept out more than cold winds and enemy soldiers. During the long, dark winter nights when the gales howled across the hillside, the people entertained each other with story telling. What truth lies in the tales that have come down to us?

Some Folklore

In the years shortly after William Wallace was born, the Scottish King, Alexander III, married a beautiful young woman. They were in love with each other and happy to marry, but at the wedding ball a skeleton appeared and danced amongst the guests. It shook an ominous finger at the King before vanishing. Only a few months later, in 1286, the King was at a meeting in Edinburgh Castle. His bride awaited him at his castle in Fife. In his eagerness to be with her again, he decided to ride home after dark. His horse stumbled and both rider and mount plunged over the cliff at Kinghorn, and died on the rocky shore below. It was his death without an heir that led to the disputes over the succession of the throne, culminating in the War of Independence, (1297 -1305).

The song "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond" has the lines
"Oh, Ye'll tak the High Road
And I'll tak the Low Road
But I'll be in Scotland afore ye"

There was for a long time (and still is for all I know) the belief that when Scot meets with death in a foreign land, their spirits returns to the place of birth by an underground fairy way - THE LOW ROAD. The song is thought to have been written about two Scottish soldiers from Bonnie Prince Charlie's army. After the retreat in 1745 from their invasion of northern England (like Wallace's foray to York centuries before), some were captured and imprisoned in Carlisle gaol. One soldier was to be released so that he could return home to Scotland by the High Road; the other was to be executed at dawn. He would travel home much more quickly as a Dead Soul by way of the Low Road. Therefore, his spirit would reach Scotland before the living soldier could cross the Border from England on foot.

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