Pity poor Kate McNiven, for her fate was a terrible one.
Kate, a very old lady and Nanny to the Laird of Monzie in Perthshire in Scotland, must have done something to the family, because she was accused of being a Witch. She was seized, taken up a very steep hill known as the Knock of Crieff to the north of the town, forced into a barrel and rolled down the side. The slope down which she was pushed is now called Kate McNiven’s Craig.
If that wasn’t enough, she was then dragged out of the barrel and set alight (just to make sure, presumably)…
One of the Grahams of Inchbrackie (which is a neighbouring property) tried to save Kate, but to no avail. In gratitude she spat out of her mouth a bead into Graham’s hand – which on closer examination turned out to be a sapphire from a ring. Kate told Graham that as long as his family kept the bead they would prosper (in truth, they may have but Inchbrackie Castle has gone and the lands were sold in 1882).
Before McNiven was burnt she cursed the Laird of Monzie and the Village of Monzie itself.
“From father to son, Monzie shall never pass; no heir of line should ever hold the lands now held by him”
She then proceeded to curse the Kirktoun of Monzie;
“In future years, its size and population should decrease, it should hold no share in all the growing prosperity of the surrounding towns, and ever by some hearth amidst its cottage homes there should crawl an idiot with lolling tongue and rolling eyes.”
There is a modern-day rhyme in the village of Monzie that regards Nevin;
“As long as the Shaggie rins crookit and bent
there’ll be a Witch o Mon-ie
And she’ll ne’er be kent”
I don’t know why she didn’t just turn herself into a bee and buzz off!
This is the Witches Stone – on the site of Kates burning. In reality it is a prehistoric standing stone and thousands of years older than the legend of poor Kate McNiven – which is a true tale.