Jul 21 2011 by Andrew Harris, Blairgowrie Adv
UFOS over Coupar Angus, a murder victim in Blair reincarnated as a dog, the devil’s claws marked along the Ericht – these are just some of the bizarre stories from our Georgian ancestors which an author has uncovered in his search of the mysteries of Perthshire. The Blairie went in search of further explanation.
Geoff Holder has been writing books about strange Scotland for the last five years.
“Please don’t make out that I am a believer,” he requested, “I am simply interested.”
His first book, ‘The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire’, was released in 2006 – a “dream” project which emanated from his spare time.
“There had been very little written about stone circles, ancient monuments and places associated with legends in Perthshire so I thought this would make a good book,” he explained.
Since then, Geoff has written ten guides on the mysteries of such places as Arran, Glasgow and Iona - no longer a hobby but a profession.
And East Perthshire has its share of strange goings on.
“I was in Perth library when I came across this letter from 1767. I thought, hmm, interesting, I’ll put it in the book,” Geoff said.
The letter was written by a man in Edinburgh for the ‘The Annual Register: A view of the history, politics and literature for the year’ – a digest of all things of interest for the Georgian gentleman – recounting a tale he had heard from a man in Coupar Angus.
He wrote: “We hear from Perthshire, that an uncommon phenomenon was observed on the water of Isla, near Coupar Angus, preceded by a thick dark smoke, which soon dispelled, and discovered a large luminous body, like a house on fire but presently after took a form something pyramidal and rolled forward with impetuosity till it came to the water of the Ericht ... and disappeared above Blairgowrie.”
The grand finale involved the fireball destroying a part of the bridge in Blair and knocking a man from his horse.
“A fascinating tale I think you’ll agree,” Geoff said. “The account is so detailed but it is quite possible it was a Chinese whisper which was common for that period.”
The Roswell alien crash in the 1940s, the moment when UFOs entered popular culture, was way in the future but Geoff reveals such sightings were rare in the 18th century.
“No, this story is very unusual – a fireball which comes to earth. There was tales of meteorites but this one is clearly about a UFO, although the term had not been invented yet,” Geoff explained.
Geoff said there was a possibility that the story was verbally passed on to the Edinburgh gentleman as at that time, in rural Perthshire, many people were illiterate.
“Also, perhaps the witness did not wish to be ridiculed and so avoided writing it down himself,” Geoff added.
Geoff then made an appeal to the people of East Perthshire to come forward with more mysteries.
“Blairgowrie is not unknown for its strange goings on,” he said. “There was story in the 1980s of a women and son in Blair being visited by a UFO and developing special powers as a result.
“Wether it is true or not cannot be substantiated but these kind of tales are what interest me and I would ask your readers to contact me if they have any other bizarre tales.”
Folklore is engrained in the culture of Perthshire and Geoff said the Blairgowrie area was awash with tales.
“North of Blair, along the river Ericht, there is a statue called ‘Satan’s claws’.
“The 18th century story goes that when the devil fell from heaven, he landed in the Ericht and tried to claw his way up the bank. When he realised he would never enter heaven, he wept tears of rust and this was the explanation for why a nearby well had water which was rust coloured,” he regaled.
However, there’s only one story he feels is the most important.
“Without doubt the ‘dog o’mause tale,” he replied.
The story goes that in 1728 at Middlemause farm north of Blairgowrie, a murder victim whose body had never been found was reincarnated as a dog which then directed three men to the body’s location to allow a Christian burial.
“What was extraordinary about this story was that the men made depositions to the magistrate claiming this to be true. They turned their tale into a legally recorded document. This is very unusual in British folklore.”
If you have had any bizarre encounters or have heard other mysterious tales passed down through the family, please get in touch with Geoff at the website www.geoffholder.com