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Witchcraft and Superstitious Record in the South-Western District of Scotland By J. Maxwell Wood Characters: 29707

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Death Customs and Funeral Ceremony.

"Or ever the silver cord be loosed."

-Ecclesiastes xii. 6.

hen that sure hand called Death knocked at the cottar's or laird's door, or stalked with unhalting step into moorland farm or upland home to beckon away some weary inmate, the actual decease, or passing, was of itself associated with significant observance.

The nearest relative bent down to the dying face to receive the last breath. The door was kept ajar,[32] although not too wide, that the spirit might be untrammelled in its flight.[33]

The spirit fled the poor dead eyes were closed, also by the nearest relative, and generally kept so by means of copper coins placed upon them.

The looking-glass in the death-chamber was covered with a white cloth. The clock was stopped, or at least the striking-weight removed. The daily routine of work was discontinued, such days of enforced idleness being known as the "dead days." On the farm, for example, no matter the season, the appropriate labour of ploughing, seed sowing, or even harvest, at once ceased. The household companions of dog and cat were rigidly excluded from the stricken house; indeed, it was not uncommon for the cat to be imprisoned beneath an inverted tub, for it was believed that if either of these animals should jump or cross over the dead body, the welfare of the spirit of the deceased would certainly be affected.

The body was then washed, and dressed in its last garments, the hands of females being crossed over the breast, those of the other sex being extended by the sides. Last of all a plate of salt was placed upon the breast, either from the higher idea of future life being signified by the salt, which is the emblem of perpetuity, or from a more practical notion, however unlikely, that by this means the body would be prevented from swelling.

Of the curious custom of "sin-eating"-that is, the placing of a piece of bread upon the salt by a recognised individual known as the sin-eater, who, for money reward, at the same time partook of it, thereby, as it was believed, absorbing to himself all the sins of the deceased-there is little to be gleaned in this district. The term "dishaloof" still exists, however, as a vestige of the custom in lowland Scotland.(72)

There falls to be mentioned here a quaint superstition associated with "bee folklore," as described by the late Patrick Dudgeon, Esq. of Cargen, Kirkcudbrightshire, who specially studied this matter. The custom was, when a death took place, to at once go to the bee-hives, or skeps, and whisper the tidings of the sad event to the bees. This was followed by "putting the bees in mourning"-that is, attaching black ribbons to each of the skeps.[34]

Mr Dudgeon, in a paper on the subject,(73) observes that "the custom was very general some time ago, and several of my correspondents mention instances of old people having seen it observed. It is not altogether extinct yet."

The last toilet completed, it was the usual custom for friends and neighbours to manifest their sympathy by watching, or "waulking," the dead. Through the long hours of night, by the glimmering candle-light at the silent bedside, this was really a service that called for some resolution, as tales of dead bodies coming back to life were fully believed in these superstitious days. Occasionally special candles were used for "the watching," known as Yule candles. These were the remains of specially large candles burned at Yule, and extinguished at the close of the day, what was left of the candle being carefully preserved and locked away, to be burned at the owners' own "waulking."

Visiting the house of the dead for the sake of seeing the corpse was a regular practice, and, it may be added, that to touch the corpse was considered a sure safeguard against all eerie dreams of death and ghostly trappings, as well as a counter-influence to illness and disease.

With the encoffining, or "kistin'" of the dead, a further, stage was reached. The ceremony was apparently religious, and one of deep solemnity, the minister, or one of his elders or deacons, attending to see the remains of the deceased placed in the coffin, to offer up prayer, and generally to console and sympathise with the bereaved. In reality, the official presence of the minister, elder or deacon, was directly due to an Act of Parliament,[35] actually framed and passed, incongruous as it may appear, for the "improvement of Linen manufacture within the Kingdom." The clerical representative was present in the house of mourning, to be fully satisfied that "the corpse was shrouded in home made linen, and that not exceeding in value twenty shillings per ell."

This curious Act had as curious a sequel, for, prompted by an evident spirit of fair dealing, the Linen Act was rescinded in the first Parliament of Queen Anne in favour of a "Woollen Act," insisting upon the exclusive use of "wool" as a material for shrouds, under exactly the same pains and penalties as the previous Act laid down to compel the use of linen. In course of time such rigid intrusive conditions, despite the law, came to be disregarded, and people shrouded their dead as they thought best, and in material of their own choice. It was, however, usual for the undertaker to safeguard those concerned in any such infringement by charging half the statutory fine in his account, taking credit to himself for the other half as being the informer against himself. This was usually entered as the first item of his undertaking expenses, being expressed in his bill against the relatives as: "To paying the penalty under the Act for burying in Scots Linen."

The custom of relatives and intimate friends being at the encoffining or "kistin'" is to some extent associated with the "lykewake," or "latewake," of Roman Catholic usage. Although now quite unknown among adherents of the Scottish Presbyterian Church, such wakes were at one time common enough, even after the Reformation. They were, however, attended by such unseemly behaviour that in 1645 the General Assembly passed an edict to suppress them.

Funeral Hospitality.

Sketch by J. Copland, Dundrennan.

That the custom still continued is brought out by the knowledge that in 1701 it was found necessary to revive and enforce the statute against the practice.

The culminating feature of the rites of bereavement, the funeral ceremony, was in these old days (particularly between the years 1700 and 1800) an occasion altogether outstanding in social importance. It was an occasion, however, very often marred by the profuse liberality and use of stimulants, lavish hospitality in the house of mourning being too frequently followed by ludicrous and extraordinary results as the body was being conveyed to its last resting-place. "A funeral party," for example, "had wended their way for miles through deep snow over Eskdale Moor, bound for Moffat Churchyard. On arriving at the burial-ground it was actually discovered that they had dropped the coffin by the way, the back having fallen from the cart on which it was being conveyed."(74)

Ten o'clock in the morning saw the commencement of the funeral ceremonies, this being so generally understood that no special hour was mentioned in "the bidding to the buriall." The setting-out for the churchyard, however, or the "liftin'," as it was termed, did not, as a rule, take place for several hours later, and in many instances not until well on in the afternoon. This delay, as well as giving ample time to partake of refreshment, was really meant to enable all the guests to gather together, many of them travelling long distances, which were not made shorter by bad roads or inclement weather. A precaution sometimes taken before the company moved off was to send someone to the top of the nearest height to signal when the horizon was clear and no more guests in sight.

The place of entertainment was usually the barn. Planks laid along the tops of wooden trestles formed a large table, on which were piled up a superabundance of food and drink, while a constant feature of the entertainment was an imposing array of tobacco pipes already filled by the women who had sat beside, or watched, the dead body. It was not considered seemly for the women of the house to mingle with the male guests. The usual custom in Galloway and Nithsdale was for the women folk to sit together in a room apart.

As the company gathered they formed themselves into relays-for the number of guests as a rule exceeded the accommodation of even the largest barn-and entered the place set aside for refreshment. This took the form of what were known as "services," and these in their usual order were, after each guest had been proffered a pipe of tobacco:-

(a) Bread and cheese, with ale and porter.

(b) A glass of whisky, with again bread and cheese.

(c) A glass of rum and biscuits.

(d) A glass of brandy and currant bun.

(e) Wine and shortbread (or burial bread).

It was not, be it mentioned in passing, a very unusual thing for some of the company to enter the barn again, and undertake the "services" a second time.

The natural consequence of all this is obvious, but to a certain extent the situation could be saved by the use of a private receptacle called the "droddy bottle," into which the liquor could be poured to be taken home, or at least carried outside. Before partaking of each individual "service" it was solemnised by the minister offering up an appropriate prayer, a clerical task which must have been trying in the extreme.

As instancing the prodigality of preparation in the way of food, notice may be taken of a funeral in the parish of Mochrum, where two bushels (160 lbs.) of shortbread were provided, and it is quite unnecessary to suggest that the supply of spirits would be in proportion.

The following account of funeral expenses, drawn from a Wigtownshire farmer's book of expenses in 1794, may here be included, as it affords an excellent illustration of how the expenses of an ordinary funeral were swelled by the amounts paid for alcoholic liquor:-

Mrs G.- One gallon brandy £0 18 0

15 gills gin 0 7 6

Six bottles of wine 0 17 0

One gallon rum 0 16 0

To the coffin 1 5 0

To the mort-cloath and grave digging 0 2 0

To bread 0 5 9

J. C. for biding and walking and other attendance 0 4 0

J. S. for whiskie and ale at sitting up 0 3 1

Of the expenses of funerals in a higher rank of life those incurred on the deaths of Grierson of Lag and his third son, John Grierson, afford full and interesting information. Mr John Grierson, third son of the Laird of Lag, died early in 1730, and to one Jean Scott the purveying of the meat and drink considered requisite for the friends attending the funeral was entrusted. The bill came to about £160 Scots.[36] When the Laird himself died, on the last day of the year 1733, there was a repetition of the feasting and drinking at the house of the deceased, at the kirkyard, and at an adjoining house, which had evidently been requisitioned for the accommodation of several of the gentlemen, among whom were Lord Stormonth, Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, Maxwell of Carriel, and others who had come from a distance to assist. The account begins two days before the death of the Laird, and ends on January 14. In round figures the cost of the meat and drink consumed at the Laird's funeral came to £240 Scots.

The following are the detailed accounts:-(75)

Accott. of the Ffunerals of Mr John Griersone.

1730. To Jean Scott.

Feb. 23rd. 2 bottels clarit to these as set up all night wt ye corps £0 3 0

do. 1 bottel of brandy for do. 0 1 6

Feb. 24th. 1 bottel of clarit when the sear-cloath[37] was put on 0 1 6

do. 1 bottel clarit when the grave-cloaths was put on 0 1 6

do. At the in-coffining where the ladys was, 1 bottel clarit, 2 bottels white wine, and 1 bottel Cannary 0 6 2

do. In the beg room wt the Gentelmen before the corps was transported-2 bottels white wine 0 3 0

do. When the company returned-10 bottels clarit 0 15 0

do. 2 bottels brandy for Gentelmen's Servts. 0 3 0

do. 2 bottels clarit to Sir Robert's Servts. 0 3 0

Feb. 26th. 1 bottel clarit to Sir Robert's Servts. 0 1 6

March 2nd. 1 bottel clarit to Sir Robert's Servts. 0 1 6

March 4th. 1 bottel clarit to Sir Robert's Servts. 0 1 6

March 5th. In the two rooms when at meat 22 bottels clarit 1 13 0

do. ffor the Servts. and Gentelmen's Servts., 4 bottels of brandy 0 6 0

do. at night when the Gentelmen returned-25 bottels of clarit 1 17 6

do. 2 bottels brandy to Rockhall wt bottels 0 3 0

March 6th. 2 bottels clarit at dinr wt Sr Walter Laurie and Cariel 0 3 0

do. Ale from the 23rd of ffebr., till this day 1 19 6

do. To 1 baccon ham 0 9 0

do. To a rosting piece of beef 0 6 6

do. To a rost pigg 0 2 6

do. To 2 rost gease 0 3 0

do. To 1 rost turkey 0 4 0

do. To a calf's head stwed wt wine and oysstars 0 3 6

do. To 2 dish of neats' tongues 0 8 0

do. To 2 dish of capons and fowls 0 6 0

do. To a passtie 0 7 0

March 6th. To a dozn. of tearts 0 6 0

do. To 2 dozn. of mincht pys 0 8 0

do. To 1 quarter of rost mutton 0 3 6

do. To rost veal 0 3 6

do. To 1 barrel of oysters, 6 limmons, and other pickels 0 4 0

do. To eating for Tennents and Servants 1 0 0

The following is a note of some of the items of expenditure at the funeral of the notorious Sir Robert Grierson of Lag himself:-

1733.

Decr. 29th. 2 bottles small clarit £0 3 0

do. 2 flint glasses 0 1 4

Decr. 30th. 4 bottles small clarit 0 6 0

1734.

Janr. 1st. 12 bottles strong clarit 1 4 0

do. 3 bottles ffrantinak 1 6 0

do. 3 bottles shirry 0 5 6

do. 1 bottle more brandy 0 1 6

Janr. 7th. 18 double flint glasses

do. 1 £ double refined shugar

Janr. 8th. 4 dozn. strong clarit to the lodgeing 4 16 0

do. 6 bottles ffrantinak do. 0 12 0

do. 6 bottles shirry do. 0 11 0

do. 6 more double flint glasses to ye lodgeing

do. 12 bottles strong clarit sent out to the burying place 1 4 0

do. 12 bottles more strong clarit at night to the lodgeing 1 4 0

Janr. 9th. 4 wine glasses returned from Dunscore

Janr. 12th. 2 bottles strong clarit to the lodgeing 0 4 0

do. 10 bottles strong clarit wt Carriel & more Gentelmen 1 8 0

Janr. 14th. 2 bottles clarit wt Carriel 0 4 8

8 dozn. empty bottles returned

The Wines amounts to 14 5 5

The Entertainments to 6 10 0

1734. Accompt. of Horsses.

Janr. 9th. 2 horses of Lord Stormonds, 2 nights' hay, oats, & beans £0 5 0

do. 2 horses 2 nights, hay, oats, & beans, Sr Thomas Kirkpatrk 0 5 0

do. the smith for Sr Thomas' horsses 0 2 0

Pyd. to Charles Herisse, smith, for iron work to the Hearse 0 5 6

Mr Gilbert's horsses 1 4 6

Grim legend clings around the a

ccount of Lag's last illness and his funeral. "During the latter part of his life Sir Robert had taken up his abode in his town-lodging in Dumfries. It was an ancient pile of building of singular construction, facing the principal part of the High Street of the town, known as the 'Plainstones.' This old house was called the 'Turnpike,' from the spiral staircase, a characteristic of it, as of many of the old Edinburgh houses; it was situated at the head of what was called the Turnpike Close, and little more than two hundred yards from the Nith. The best known of the many legends regarding Lag is this: that when he came near his end, and was sorely tormented with gout, he had relays of servants posted so as to hand up from one to another a succession of buckets of cold water from the Nith, that he might cool his burning limbs-but the moment his feet were inserted into the water it began to fizz and boil.

In this old Turnpike house[38] Sir Robert died on the 31st December, 1733. It is related that on this occasion a 'corbie' (raven) of preternatural blackness and malignity of aspect, perched himself on the coffin, and would not be driven off, but accompanied the funeral cortège to the grave in the churchyard of Dunscore.

Moreover, when the funeral procession started, and had got some little way on the Galloway side of the Nith, it was found that the horses, with all their struggles, and dripping with perspiration, from some mysterious cause could move the hearse no further. Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, of Closeburn, the old friend and comrade of Lag (and his relative), who was believed to be deep in some branches of the Black Art, was one of the mourners. This gentleman, the stoutest of Non-jurors, on this occasion swore a great oath that he would drive the hearse of Lag 'though -- were in it!' and ordered a team of beautiful Spanish horses of his own to be harnessed in place of the others. Sir Thomas mounted and took the reins, when the horses instantly dashed off at a furious gallop that he could in no wise restrain, and abated nought of their headlong pace till they reached the churchyard of Dunscore, where they suddenly pulled up-and died."(76)

When the funeral cortège did start, as already indicated, curious though quite consequent sequels were far from uncommon. Solemnity and deep drinking only too frequently ended in unaffected hilarity or even dissension.

MacTaggart, in his Gallovidian Encyclop?dia, has caught and well recorded the boisterous spirit of this grim funeral festivity, as the following graphic description amply shows:-

"At last the Laird o' the Bowertree Buss gaed his last pawt, was straughted, dressed, coffined and a'; and I was bidden to his burial the Tuesday after. There I gaed, and there were met a wheen fine boys. Tam o' Todholes, and Wull o' the Slack war there; Neil Wulson, the fisher, and Wull Rain, the gunner, too. The first service that came roun' was strong farintosh, famous peat reek. There was nae grief amang us. The Laird had plenty, had neither wife nor a wean, sae wha cud greet? We drew close to ither, and began the cracks ding-dang, while every minute roun' came anither reamin' service. I faun' the bees i' my head bizzin' strong i' a wee time. The inside o' the burial house was like the inside o' a Kelton-hill tent; a banter came frae the tae side of the room, and was sent back wi' a jibe frae the ither. Lifting at last began to be talked about, and at last lift we did. 'Whaever wished for a pouchfu' o' drink might tak' it.' This was the order; sae mony a douce black coat hang side wi' a heavy bottle. On we gaed wi' the Laird, his weight we faun' na. Wull Weer we left ahin drunk on the spot. Rob Fisher took a sheer as we came down the green brae, and landed himself in a rossen o' breers. Whaup-nebbed Samuel fell aff the drift too. I saw him as we came across Howmcraig; the drink was gaen frae him like couters. Whan we came to the Taffdyke that rins cross Barrend there we laid the Laird down till we took a rest awee. The inside o' pouches war than turned out, bottle after bottle was touted owre; we rowed about, and some warsled. At last a game at the quoits was proposed; we played, but how we played I kenna. Whan we got tae the kirkyard the sun was jist plumpin' down; we pat the coffin twice in the grave wrang, and as often had to draw't out again. We got it to fit at last, and in wi' the moulds on't. The grave-digger we made a beast o'."

A notable exception to the practice of the period was the funeral of William Burnes, father of the National Bard, who was borne from Lochlea to Alloway Kirkyard, a distance of twelve miles, not a drop of anything excepting a draught of water from a roadside stream being tasted.

The funeral festivities, however, did not end with the lowering of the dead into the grave. There yet remained the final entertainment at the house of the bereaved. If within reasonable distance at all the funeral party returned from the churchyard to partake of the entertainment known as the "draigie,"[39] or "dredgy." Again the drinking was long and deep, with results that can only too readily be imagined.

But it must not be assumed that such scenes and proceedings passed without protest on the part of the Church and those who had the welfare of decency and morality at heart. The Presbytery of Penpont, for example, in 1736 issued the following warning to their own district:-

"Yet further how unaccountable and scandalous are the large gatherings and unbecoming behaviour at burials and 'lake-wacks,' also in some places how many are grossly unmannerly in coming to burials without invitation. How extravagant are many in their preparations for such occasions, and in giving much drink, and driving it too frequently, before and after the corpse is enterred, and keeping the company too long together; how many scandalouslie drink until they be drunk on such occasions; this practice cannot but be hurtfull, therefore ought to be discouraged and reformed, and people that are not ashamed to be so vilely unmannerly as to thrust themselves into such meetings without being called ought to be affronted."

Despite protest and counsel, however, the custom of supplying refreshment to mourners in the form of "services" lingered until well into the nineteenth century.

Much good was, however, done in the south-west district of Scotland by the firm position taken up by Dr Henry Duncan of Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, a personality whose memory is still held in the highest esteem and respect. The method adopted was characteristic of the man, and is described by himself in the Statistical Account of his Parish:-

"The present incumbent fell on a simple expedient by which this practice has been completely abolished. Having engaged the co-operation of some of the leading men in the parish, he drew up a subscription paper, binding the subscribers, among other less important regulations, to give only one service when they had the melancholy duty of presiding at a funeral themselves, and to partake of only one service when they attended the funeral of a neighbour. This paper was readily subscribed by almost every head of a family in the parish, and whatever was injurious in the practice was abolished at once, ... and, speaking generally, may be said to have effectually rooted out the former practice throughout the whole surrounding district" (March, 1834).

After the funeral, certain old rites and customs were carried out. On the death of a tenant the mart, or herezeld (heriot, or best aucht) was seized by the landowner to substantiate his title. The bed and straw on which the deceased had lain were burned in the open field. Concerning this practice Joseph Train in a note to Strains of the Mountain Muse, describes how, "as soon as the corpse is taken from the bed on which the person died, all the straw or heather of which it was composed is taken out and burned in a place where no beast can get near it, and they pretend to find next morning in the ashes the print of the foot of that person in the family who shall die first."

A short reference may here be made to the custom of burial without coffins.

The spirit of economy went far indeed in these older days, for burial, particularly of the poor, took place either without a coffin at all, or they were carried to the grave in one of common and general use, from which they were removed and buried when the grave-side was reached.

A doubtful advance upon this method was the introduction of the "slip-coffin," which permitted of a bolt being drawn when lowered to the bottom of the grave. A hinged bottom was in this way relieved, which left the poor dead body in the closest of contact with mother earth. The motive, of course, was economy, and its use practically restricted to paupers. On the authority of Edgar, author of Old Church Life in Scotland (1886), it is gratifying to note that none of these uncoffined interments had taken place in the South of Scotland for at least 150 years.

In this connection a story somewhat against the "cloth" may be given:-

"A worthy Galloway minister, feeling that the newly-passed Poor Law Act with its assessments was burdensome to his flock, seriously proposed to the Parochial Board of his district that to narrow down the rates a 'slip-coffin' should be made for the poor, out of which the body could be slipped into its narrow home. The proposal met with scant consideration, and during the rest of his lifetime the well-meaning man was known as 'Slip.'"(77)

A Galloway Funeral of Other Days.

Sketch by J. Copland, Dundrennan.

Before the days of hearses the coffin was borne to the grave on two long poles or hand-spokes. Over the simple bare coffin the "mort-cloth" was spread, for the use of which the "Kirk-Session" made a charge, the money received being devoted to the relief of the poor of the parish. As superstitious custom refused the rites of Christian burial to those who died by their own hand, so was also the use of the "mort-cloth" withheld.

Until comparatively recent days the bodies of suicides were buried at the meeting of four cross roads, or at all events at some lonely, unfrequented spot, the remains having not unusually the additional indignity of being impaled by a stake practised upon them. It is of interest to note that the name of the "Stake Moss," Sanquhar, may be traced to this callous practice.

A superstition of the churchyard itself that still lingers and is worthy of notice, is that the north side is less hallowed than the other portions of "God's Acre." The origin of this comes from the Scriptural description of the last judgment (Matthew xxv.), which tells how "He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left."

A recent local writer has thus embodied the idea and its probable derivation:-

"This superstition (he says) is said to have originated in the New Testament story of the Day of Judgment, when the Lord on entering His house (the entrance of the old churches being at the west end, or on the south near the west) would separate the sheep from the goats-the former to His right hand, the south; and the latter to his left, the north. Our forefathers would not see their dear ones among the goats, 'for evil,' said they, 'is there.' This credulous imagining is not exemplified in the kirkyard alone. Many of our old pre-Reformation churches exhibit evidence of the superstition in the entire absence of windows in their north walls; and in general it would appear that in medi?val times there was a common belief in the evil influence of the north, and that thence came all kinds of ill.

"In Sanquhar Kirkyard it is evident that the superstition prevailed until comparatively modern times, for there are no headstones on the north side of the kirk earlier than the beginning of the last century, all the older monuments being to the south of the kirk, and at its east and west ends."(78)

To the simple earnest dweller in the country there comes at times the thought that brings with it a comfort all its own, that after "life's fitful fever" they will be quietly laid to rest underneath the green turf, within the shadow of the kirk itself. Of this the origin of Carsphairn parish, in the uplands of Galloway, gives telling proof; for in the year 1645 complaint was made to the Scottish Parliament that in the parishes of Dairy and Kells numbers of people had to be buried in the fields, because the houses in which they lived and died were twelve miles from a churchyard. The issue of this was, that the district of Carsphairn was erected into a separate parish, and the indignity of such burials came to an end.

Before closing a chapter devoted to "death custom" and "funeral ceremony," the use of the "dead bell" must certainly be referred to.

In these old days when methods of conveying news and information were restricted, it was the routine practice when a death occurred for the "beadle" (sexton) to go, bell in hand, around the district, pausing at intervals to ring the "passing bell"[40] more particularly in front of the houses of friends of the deceased, announcing at the same time not only the death but also the day of burial. The usual form of his intimation which, with uncovered head, he delivered was:-

"Brethren and sisters,-I hereby let ye to wit that our brother (or sister), named (name, address, and occupation), departed this life at -- of the clock, according to the pleasure Almighty God, and you are all invited to attend the funeral on --."

Particular reference to this custom in the town of Dumfries is given in the Itinerary of John Ray, naturalist, who visited the town in August, 1662:-

"Here (he says) ... we observed the manner of their burials, which is this: when anyone dies the sexton or bellman goeth about the streets, with a small bell in his hand, which he tinkleth all along as he goeth, and now and then he makes a stance, and proclaims who is dead, and invites the people to come to the funeral."

On the day of the funeral it was again customary for the "beadle" to ring the bell, walking in front of the funeral procession ringing it as he went. This is also noticed by Ray, who notes that "The people and ministers ... accompany the corpse to the grave ... with the bell before them." This usage has passed to a form, common enough to this day, particularly in the country, of tolling the church bell as the funeral cortège approaches the churchyard.

In the scarce Book of Galloway it is recorded how "the beadle had rung the 'passing bell[41] on the bellknowe of Penninghame,' and it was heard again when the mourners approached the graveyard."

The ringing of the "dead bell" had its origin in the superstitious idea that by this means evil spirits were held at bay.

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