A Rain of Fish in Scotland

Rain of Fish

The story of the rain of fish was recorded by Andrew Symson, the minister of Kirkinner parish, in his description of Minnigaff parish, Galloway, of 1684:

‘In the moors of this parish of Monnygaffe not many years since, at a place called La Spraig, not far from the water of Munnach [i.e., the Water of Minnoch], but sixteen miles distant from the sea, there fell a shower of herring, which were seen by creditable persons, who related the story to me, some of the said herring were as I am informed, taken to [Alexander Stewart] the Earl of Galloways house and shown to him.’ (Symson, A Large Description of Galloway, 32.)



‘La Spraig’ is, or rather was, Lochspraig, a farm which by the mid nineteenth century was in ruins and has now disappeared under forestry.

Map of former site of Lochspraig                  Aerial View of Lochspraig

A rain of fish is part of a wider meteorological phenomenon of rains of animals. They may be caused by tornadic waterspouts or tornados lifting the fish up into the atmosphere.

Old Track near Lochspraig Galloway Forest

Forest path by Lochspraig © Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse.

Writing in 1684, Symson does not give a date or year for the Galloway rain of herring beyond it taking place ‘not many years since’. Tornados of any kind are relatively rare in Scotland. It is possible that the rain of herring took place in the same weather conditions that produced the Scottish Tornado of 1678, which appeared in the Firth of Clyde and made landfall east of Dumbarton. A rain of blood was reported near Langholm in 1688.

Later in 1684, Symson informed against one of the drowned Wigtown martyrs, Margaret McLachlan.

One individual who lived very near to the location for the rain of herring was the forfeited laird, Anthony McKie of Glencaird, who hid at the nearby White Cairn.

For other strange wonders in seventeenth-century Scotland, see here.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on May 20, 2015.

One Response to “A Rain of Fish in Scotland”

  1. […] Other strange events followed, Two years later, a tornado made landfall on the Clyde and perhaps at around the same time a curious rain of fish fell in Galloway. […]

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