The ‘Majestick-Like’ Colossus of Fife in 1674

Colossus Fife

The curious report of a colossus standing astride the Lomond Hills in Fife is recorded in the manuscript memoirs of John Blackadder, an outlawed field preacher. He refers to the appearance of a tall, majestic figure in his account of a field conventicle in 1674:

‘There was a meeting on Lomond hills, where Mr John Wallwood, a young man, but grave and pious, and of a good understanding, preached to the meeting;’

The preaching of John Welwood (d.1679) was held in high esteem by the Society people. The location of his preaching ‘on Lomond hills’ may have been on East or West Lomond, or somewhere in the surrounding hills. In 1681, a field preaching by Donald Cargill was said to have been held at Lomond Hills, however Cargill’s preaching actually took place on Devon Common, which lies to the east of East Lomond.

Map of Devon Common

Blackadder continues:

‘there came a party of the life-guards, commanded, as I heard, by Adam Masterton of Grange, younger;’

John Drysdale, a weaver and one of the Society people from Bo’ness, would later attempt to assassinate Masterson of Grange as ‘an enemy of God and His people’ in December, 1680.

‘the meeting was on the hill; the troopers essayed to ride up to them, I suppose between sermons; the people stood on the face of the brae, and the soldiers shot bullets among the people, with carabins and pistells, and, as I heard, charged five or six several times; but though the ball lighted among men, women, and children, and went through some of their hair, and brake upon stones beside them, yet hurt none, which was observed as a wonder to all present;’

The miraculous passing of musket balls through hair is also reported in the cases of James Nisbet and Patrick Foreman.

The attacks by the soldiers were met with resistance. Negotiations followed:

‘the soldiers seeing the people stand still, and not stir, were forced to retire, (some of them had their horses hurt with the stones cast down from the hill), and sent to call some of the people to capitulate with, desiring them to dismiss. The people answered, they were not to stay any longer than the public worship was ended; they told them also, they could not leave the hill till they had security to get no harm from them, which they did promise, but this was kept as many other of that sort; for, after the bulk of the people were gone, the troopers fell on the hindermost, plundering and stripping them, and apprehended about 18 prisoners.’

Female Prophetesses

It is at this point that the reports of a vision of a majestic colossus protecting the field preaching appear in Blackadder’s narrative:

‘It was affirmed by some women who stayed at home, that they clearly perceived as the form of a tall man, majestick like, stand in the air, in stately posture, with the one leg as it were advanced before the other, standing above the people all the time of the soldiers’ shooting.’ (Law, Memorialls, 96n.)

The involvement of several women in a collective vision probably indicates that the ‘majestick-like’ colossus appeared to those women in an ecstatic prayer session. Similar incidents involving female prophetesses took place at Paisley and near Crossford. The Sweet Singers, or Gibbites, of Bo’ness also produced female prophetic visions.

For other ‘wonders’ of the 1670s and 1680s, see here.

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

~ by drmarkjardine on August 5, 2015.

2 Responses to “The ‘Majestick-Like’ Colossus of Fife in 1674”

  1. Blackadder? Really?

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