Mary of Castlecary’s Tomb

Located just to the south of Greenhill Upper Junction (at NS 8146 7851) on the estate of Glenyards and Lochdrum, this tomb is 155m SSW of Greenhill Farm.  The rectangular enclosure is sited on a north-east facing slope resulting in the east and north walls acting as retainers for the raised floor, and two rough steps at the doorway, which faces south.  The walls are 0.55m wide and 2.0m tall, measured from the interior, and are built of random rubble consisting of quarried sandstone.  The quoins are only roughly dressed, but the copestones are squared on their outer edges with horizontal droving.  The copes slope down into the interior, where their edges are rough.  Large boulders are used to underpin all of the walls and this is particularly noticeable on the north and east.  The external height of the north-east corner is 3.0m.  The internal dimensions are 3.72m W/E by 5.10m N/S.

Illus: The Inscribed Lintel.

The doorway has dressed sides with a slightly backset margin.  It is 1.03m wide, with a 0.06m intake to either side, 0.13m wide.  The height from the threshold to the lintel is 1.75m.  Two iron lugs set in lead plugs occur on the east intake, with a hole for the bolt just behind the rebate on the opposite side.  This has been replaced by a shallower rectangular hole, a little further into the interior, presumably for a mortise lock bolt.  The lintel has a deep inscription, the last line of which is of diminished size in order to fit it on: “THE BURIAL PLACE OF JAMES SCOTT AND/ JANET SCOTT WILLIAM HANAH AND/ MARY OF CASTLECARY AND OTHERS”.      The lettering is generally better executed than that in the inscription above on the outer edge of the copestones. 

Illus: Detail of the Inscribed Coping Stones and the Dated Quoinstone.

This is less deeply carved, with the odd letter being reduced in size to fit onto an individual cope, and has no spacing between the words.  It reads: “ERECTED BY JAMEs| SCOTT O|WNER Of| THE LANDS OF GREENHILL| GLENYARDS BOGSIDE| LOCHDRUM AND LOCHGREEN”.  Below, on the east quoin, is the date 1756.

A sasine dated 24 December 1835 in favour of James Marshall of the lands formerly called Above-the-Wood and then called Greenhill contains the following clause: “Reserving to Robert Scott of Glensyards and his heirs and successors the burying place in the said lands and the small plantation around the same enclosed from the other lands with access thereto when necessary.”

Mary of Castlecary Castle is described as having, in rather a singular way, tested the courage, and temper, and faithfulness of her lover.  At a fit opportunity she disguised herself in male apparel, and sallied forth with blue bonnet and belted plaid.  Expecting her lover, she placed herself in his way, and by feigned words, succeeded in arousing the jealous giant within him.  At the critical moment, when he was fired with indignation, and ready to take summary vengeance, she threw off her disguise, satisfied that his love was brave and true.  It was a happy surprise to him, and helped to strengthen the affection of both. Hector McNeill wrote a well-known song on the subject:

1. Saw ye my wee Thing?  Saw ye mine ain Thing?
Saw ye my true Love down by yon lee?
Cross’d she the meadow, yestreen at the gloaming?
Sought she the burnie whar flow’rs the haw-tree?

2. Her hair it is lint-white!  Her skin it is milk-white!
Dark is the blue of her fast rolling e’e!
Red red her ripe lip is, and sweeter than roses!
Whar could my wee thing wander frae me?

3. I saw na your wee Thing, I saw na your ain Thing,
Nor saw I your true Love down by yon lee;
But I met my bonny Thing late in the gloaming,
Down by the burnie whar flow’rs the haw-tree.

4. Her hair it was lint-white, her skin it was milk-white,
Dark was the blue o’ her fast rolling e’e!
Red war her ripe lips, and sweeter than roses!
Sweet war the kisses that she gae to me!

5. It was na my wee Thing! It was na mine ain Thing!
It was na my true Love ye met by the tree!
Proud is her liel heart, and modest her nature,
She never loo’d Le-man till ance she loo’d me.

6. Her name it is Mary, she’s frae Castle-Cary,
Ast has she sat, when a bairn, on my knee!
Fair as your face is, war’t fifty times fairer,
Young Braggart, she ne’er wad gie kisses to thee!

7. It was then your Mary, she’s frae Castle-Cary,
It was then your true Love I met by the tree!
Proud as her hear is, and modest her nature,
Sweet war the kisses that she gae to me!

8. Sair gloom’d his dark brow, blood red his cheek grew,
Wild flash’d the fire, frae his red roling e’e;
Ye’srue fair this morning, your boasting & scorning;
Defend ye fause traitor, for loudly ye lie!

9. Awa wi’ beguiling, then cried the youth smiling,
Aff gaed the bonnet; the lint-white locks flee;
The belted plaid sa’ing, her white bosom shawing,
Fair stood the lov’d Maid wi’ the dark rolling e’e.

10. Is it my wee Thing?  Is it mine ain Thing?
Is it my true Love here that I see?
O Jamie! Forgie me, your heart’s constant to me;
I’ll never mair wander, my true Love, frae thee.

Mary of Castlecary’s Tomb      SMR 531         NS 8151 7845

G.B. Bailey, 2021