The Peden Stone at Benhar in Tales of the Covenanters #History

The Peden Stone at Benhar near Shotts is an elusive object in history, There is no historical evidence that the Covenanter Alexander Peden preached there, but he did know people from the area. It was not recorded by the OS map makers of the mid nineteenth century, but an iron monument to Peden was put on top of it in 1866.

About twenty years after the monument was erected, the Peden Stone featured in a story in Ellen Jane Guthrie’s popular Tales of the Covenanters. Guthrie was great at taking traditional sites associated with the Covenanters with little or no documentary evidence and weaving them into her stories. The popularity of Tales of the Covenanters probably led to a stronger association of a traditional site like the Peden Stone with real history. However, it has to be remembered that Guthrie’s Tales was a work of fiction, rather than a work of history.

More information on the Peden Stone at Benhar can be found here.

Extracts from her story on the ‘Peden Stane’/’Peden’s Stone’/’Peden Stone’ follow:

‘PEDEN’S STONE

Having been informed that a stone, familiarly known throughout the country as “Peden’s Stone,” from the fact that that prime favourite of the Scottish peasantry used there to delight his hearers with his eloquence, was still to be seen on the moor, I determined upon paying a visit to this sequestered spot. It was on a lovely morning in the month of September that I started on my expedition. The sun was shining brightly, and the air was of that exhilarating nature which blends the softness of summer with the least possible tinge of autumn coolness. The Robin red-breast, sole remaining songster of the grove, poured its gushing notes of melody from hedge-row and tree, while, with each motion of the breeze, the now yellow leaves fell trembling on my path.

The reapers, in many places, were yet busy in the fields–the harvest being generally late in this part of Scotland–and their merry bursts of laughter sounded gaily from amid the fields of waving corn. My way again lay through H—- [i.e., Harthilll] village, near the entrance of which, on precisely the same spot as formerly, stood the previously mentioned pleasant-looking dame, but not alone. Two little olive branches clung for protection to the parent stem, in a manner beautiful to witness. I could not resist a smile as my quondam acquaintance came forward with outstretched hand, exclaiming, while a broad laugh sat upon her honest features, “Losh me, isn’t it funny we twa should always foregather on the same bit?”

“Indeed it is!” was the reply.

“And you are still gaun about here?”

“Yes; and picking up all the information I can get about the Covenanters.”

“Oh, mam!” was the pathetic response, “had my brother only been living!–but that’s by; eh sirs me, but that makes an unco difference wi’ us a’! And where may ye be gaun the day?”

“To visit Peden’s Stone; likewise to call on a Mr. Brown, who, I understand, is able to give me some information regarding it.”

“Peden’s Stone,” re-echoed Mrs. Black–such she afterwards informed me was her designation–“a weel, mam, it’s just up by there, an’ a solitary bit it is. Many a one has gone to visit Peden’s Stone. There’s my daughter; a few weeks ago she was spending the day with some friends that live near there, and they took her away to see it. On her return home, she says to me, ‘Oh, mother! just to think o’ my being twenty years old, and never to have been at Peden’s Stone afore.’ ‘Hoots, lassie!’ says I, ‘I’m a hantle mair than that, and I have never seen it! ha, ha, ha!’ And so you’re going to Sandy Brown’s to get information; weel I’ll no say but he’ll be able to tell you something canny, for folks say that he speaks like ony minister. Aweel, aweel, I mind the day when I could have told you lots o’ stories mysel’; but that’s a’ by! And you’re rale ta’en up about the Covenanters, are you?” demanded the loquacious dame, and, without waiting for an answer, away she went on. “Ay, weel, so was I at ae time o’ my life; for when I was at the sewing-school in Strathaven, I was rale anxious to see Loudon hill–may be you’ll ken Loudon hill, where the battle o’ Drumclog was fought? Ay, I thought sae; it’s a queer-looking place, I fancy, and I was many a time going to see it, but I never could win, and the time just gaed by. Losh me, but there was a curious story told about that hill–a most ex-tre-orner thing indeed; for, when I was at the sewing-school, many and many a time ha’e I heard tell o’ a heap o’ siller being buried there; and when any person went to dig it up, an awful voice ahint them cried–‘Clog’s in a low!’ and on their turning round to see what was wrong, the sight o’ a great bull rushing at them gar’d them rin, and the hole instantly closed, so that they couldna win at it again. But maybe you’ll think that’s a lee; and I wadna say but it is.”

“Is it true,” I inquired, “that your brother, who lives near here, has a sword that belonged to Captain Paton?”

“He has that, he has that! but stop noo, I’m foolish to say sae”–here Mrs. Black put her finger into her mouth and appeared to reflect a little–“Did you say Captain Paton?”

“Yes.”

“Weel, I’m no sae sure about that; but I ken brawly he has an ‘Andrew Ferrara’ that belonged to some o’ thae fechting folk. However, ye should just gang and ask him about it, he’ll be blythe to see ye, and I’ll show ye a heap o’ curiosities, for he is rale ta’en up about auld-fashioned things. And ye can just say I sent ye.”

Thanking Mrs. Black for her instructions, I proceeded towards the house indicated, and Mr. Graham being within, I was ushered into a room, where a huge sword lay upon the table. From its appearance, I should have judged it rather to be a relic of the forty-five than of the days of persecution. Mr. Graham, in answer to my inquiries, stated that it was said to have been one of Captain Paton’s swords, but that he could not give me any true account of it, as it had formerly belonged to his brother, and at his death came into the hands of its present possessor. Amongst other curiosities, Mr. G. produced two coins of the reign of David the First, which had been found with a great many more at the foot of a hill, about a mile or two on the moor at the back of his house. The tradition told concerning them in the neighbourhood is, that a man, whose Christian name was Tom, while returning at that remote period of time from a marriage party, missed his footing, and fell over a quarry which lay in his path, and was killed on the spot, the money falling out of his pocket during his too rapid descent. In consequence of this sad disaster, the spot is known as “Tam’s leap” to this day.

While speaking about the persecuting times Mr. Graham informed me that a particular part of the moor was known by the name of the “Headless Cross,” and that the circumstance which gave rise to its singular designation was this:–A persecutor of that name, who had rendered himself particularly obnoxious to the Covenanting party, on account of his many cruelties, took refuge from their anger in this part of the moor. The Covenanters, having been apprised of his whereabouts, set off instantly in pursuit of their intended victim. On arriving at the place where they expected to find their enemy, their astonishment may be conceived on seeing him without his head! It appeared that the unfortunate man had fallen into the hands of another hostile party, who, depriving him of his head, rendered him in truth a “Headless Cross.” A large stone, likewise on the moor, familiarly known as “Pack Stone,” was said to have been thrown down there by the celebrated wizard, Michael Scott, when in company with his Satanic majesty. These worthies, it is believed, were employed in carrying stones suitable for the erection of a bridge over the Firth of Forth. During this benevolent employment, a dispute took place between them–words ran high; and Michael Scott, in a fit of rage, threw down the stone then borne on his back, declaring that not one foot further should he carry it. How the quarrel ended is not related; but the stone, which is of an immense size, still remains in confirmation of the truth of this legend. The most probable version of the story is, that there the wearied pedlar used to rest with his pack while journeying between Glasgow and Edinburgh, as the wheel tracts of the old Glasgow Road are still visible near the spot.

After a minute inspection of Mr. Graham’s little museum, I set off to visit Mr. Brown. The farm towards which I directed my steps was prettily situated near a “gleaming wood,” the trees of which, now clad in autumn’s russet brown, peacefully waved over the cottage roof, before the grateful breeze, as it sped along the moor on its trackless way; while a few plants of Indian cress, trained up against the wall evinced a greater predilection for neatness than is generally to be seen in the farm-houses of Scotland. A cleanly-dressed, pleasant-looking woman–whom I afterwards ascertained to be Mrs. Brown–was standing near the entrance; and on my inquiring if Mr. Brown was within, she invited me to take a seat, as he was in the fields, and should be in presently. Availing myself of the kind invitation, I entered, and taking possession of the proffered chair, I amused myself with inspecting the cottage interior, until the arrival of Mr. Brown. It presented the nicest little picture of a moorland farm I had ever seen. Rows of nicely-cleaned dishes, bright pewter plates, and spotless chairs, all indicated the careful housewife.

In a few minutes Mr. Brown entered; and on my informing him of the nature of my visit, he said, with a smile, that he did know a little regarding these times, and should only be too happy were it in his power to give me any information that might chance to be of service. This was encouraging, so I at once began the conversation by remarking, “that this seemed to have been a great part of the country for the Covenanters in former times.” Upon which he replied that it was, more particularly the west end of the parish, where [Alexander] Peden and [Donald] Cargill used to preach, adding, “I suppose you have seen Peden’s Stone?” On my informing him that I was then on my way to visit it, he said it was not above a mile distant.

On my inquiring if there had been many conventicles held about there, Mr. Brown informed me of several, more particularly mentioning one held near Bathgate, where a Mr. [Archibald] Riddel officiated. There was a large assemblage present, and just as they were in the middle of their devotions the cry arose that the dragoons were upon them. The soldiers, however, not making their appearance, the Covenanters thought it had been a false alarm, and continued their religious exercises in fancied security. Scarcely had a few minutes elapsed ere a large party of red-coats, under the command of Lieutenant Inglis, then stationed at Mid-Calder, galloped swiftly up to the place of meeting. On perceiving their approach, many of the Covenanters fled through a moss where no horse could follow. But not to be outwitted, the soldiers remained on the opposite side, and fired promiscuously amongst the helpless group, thereby wounding many. One of their bullets pierced the head of an heritor in the parish of Bathgate, named John Davie, and killed him on the spot. Then they carried a great many men and women as prisoners, with an immense quantity of booty, back with them to Mid-Calder, the same as if they had been attacking a foreign enemy, and not men born on British soil.

“Oh, dear me! but the Covenanters were hardly used in these times–were they not, mam?” inquired Mrs. Brown, appealing directly to me, “for you see, a very great number of those who suffered were poor bits o’ innocent creatures who had neither the power nor the inclination to do harm to any one. And the power with which Dalziel, Claverhouse, and many others of these cruel men were invested was really dreadful. No person was safe while in their hands. There are men who think that some of the Covenanters were too strict in their opinions, still, as I have often read, it was then that Scotland earned for herself a distinguished name; for at the King’s return, every parish had a minister, every village had a school, every family almost had a Bible, and all children of age could read. Now, that was just as it should be.”

“I fancy you will have heard all about the murder of Kennoway and Stuart, two of the lifeguard’s-men, at Swine Abbey, just down by yonder?” inquired Mr. Brown, at the conclusion of his wife’s remarks.

I replied “that I had heard it slightly mentioned, and should be very glad to hear a more lengthened account of the affair,” upon which he commenced thus:–

“About Stuart very little or nothing is known, but Kennoway was universally detested on account of his horrid cruelties and shameless exactions from poor people who could but ill afford to pay his unjust demands. Kennoway had displayed great activity under General Dalziel at Pentland, and he it was who captured that zealous preacher Hugh M’Kail, who was executed at the cross of Edinburgh in the twenty-sixth year of his age. He likewise surprised numerous conventicles, and treated the Covenanters with great barbarity. On one occasion he attacked a party of unarmed people who were quietly hearing sermon in a field near East-Calder, and shot one through the leg, beating and robbing several others. At the meeting which took place near Bathgate, his was the hand that shot John Davie; in short, so zealous did he show himself in the cause of persecution that the government showed him great favour, and gave him several commissions to execute. Each day he scoured the country in search of prey, and those unfortunate enough to fell into his hands were treated with such brutality that several people went into Edinburgh to complain to the General of his cruelty. On receipt of a letter from his superior officer threatening him with punishment for his illegal acts, he forced an aged man, whom he had abused most shamefully, under pain of death, to sign a paper, stating that Thomas Kennoway had never injured him in any way whatever. Being greatly addicted to liquor, he would remain for days at the public-house, called Swine Abbey, indulging his evil propensity until all the money he had was spent. On one occasion having imbibed more than he had money to pay for, and the landlord pressing him for a settlement, he went out to the road, along which an old man was coming with a heavy load of oats on his back. Kennoway at once seized on the bag, and threatening the bearer with all manner of punishments if he dared to look after his property, returned to Swine Abbey, and discharged his bill with part of the proceeds, reserving the remainder for the further indulgence of his favourite vice. In the month of November he went into Edinburgh, from whence he returned bearing with him a roll which contained the names of one hundred and fifty persons he was commissioned to apprehend. On alighting at Livingstone he encountered his ill-fated companion, Stuart, to whom he displayed the roll, boasting that in a few days he should be as rich as any laird in the country. On their way to Swine Abbey, he pointed out to Stuart the lands he meant to possess. Arriving there, they commenced drinking, and continued doing so until pretty near the end of the month, when they were killed one night as they were leaving the house. Some thought they had been slain in self-defence, but it was generally supposed that, roused to madness by the continued persecutions of Kennoway, a party of people in the neighbourhood had planned his destruction. So violent were many of the blows exchanged on this occasion that the stone above the door was almost cleft in twain. I have heard it said,” continued Mr. Brown, “that one or two persons suspected of having had a hand in the murder were openly rebuked by others of the Covenanting body, for thus having sent a man laden with such crimes into the presence of his Maker without one moment’s warning, when long years of penitence would scarce suffice to atone for the evil he had wrought.”

“It was a cruel deed,” I said in reply to Mr. Brown’s inquiry as to what I thought of the affair, “and one of those blameable acts on the part of some of the Covenanters which made their enemies say that a suitable opportunity would have found them only too ready to shed blood.”

“Oh, no,” was the reply; “that would never have been the case! The thoughts of the Covenanters did not dwell much on the shedding of blood; but rather on the restoration of their rights. No doubt, as there are good and bad in every class, so the Covenanters were not exempted from the rest in this respect; but had amongst them men who thought it no sin to pour forth the blood of the wicked. But still, as a whole, they were a harmless suffering body of Christians.”

“Don’t you think, mam,” said Mrs. Brown, “that some of the clergy did not conduct themselves altogether with the meek Christian spirit becoming their high vocation? for I have often heard it said that, had they evinced a more forbearing disposition towards those–whose only fault consisted in their preferring to hear their own ministers–things would not have gone so hard with the Covenanters. Now, for instance, take Mr. Honeyman, who was at that time curate in Livingstone; what kind of example did he set those who were neither so learned, nor pretended to be so good as himself? one which no real Christian would ever seek to follow.”

“Did you ever hear,” inquired her husband, “an account of the manner in which he treated some of his parishioners who came to him for assistance in the time of their distress?”

Replying in the negative, Mr. Brown related the following:–“Mr. Honeyman, the then curate in Livingstone, was in truth a terrible scourge to those of his hearers who did not attend his meetings as he could have wished. Whenever any of his flock came under his displeasure, away went an order to Bathgate, and out came, in return, a troop of dragoons, who apprehended all marked down in the curate’s black book, as it was styled. The parishes of Livingstone, Calder, Carnwath, and several others, were diligently ransacked by these men; and many remarkable instances occurred in which the Lord heard the prayers of the oppressed, and delivered them from their persecutors. I have heard tell of one young man who escaped from among their hands, for whose apprehension Honeyman had offered a large sum of money. Well, amongst others upon whom Mr. Honeyman sent down the soldiers, the Russels of Fallhouse–whose descendants are still living there–were particularly mentioned in the black book as being worthy of stripes. Fortunately, their horses contented the fierce Highlanders, and they themselves were uninjured. In great distress at the loss of their valuable cattle, the Russels came to Mr. Honeyman, who was their minister–indeed one of them was an elder in his congregation–and besought his interference in their behalf. At first, Mr. Honeyman abused and threatened them most dreadfully for their not appearing at courts, or taking the oath, thereby setting such a bad example to others. The suppliants bore this tirade with great patience; but insisted that he should use his influence for the recovery of their property. After a little while he appeared to yield, and wrote a letter to the commander of the forces stationed at Lanark, which, he gave to them, desiring that they should themselves deliver it. Overjoyed at having succeeded so well with their minister, the Russels set off immediately for Lanark; but, on arriving at Carluke, they chanced to encounter some acquaintances, and adjourned with them to a public-house, in order to procure some refreshment. Having informed their friends of the nature of their errand, these men, being rather suspicious as to the good intentions of Mr. Honeyman, advised the Russels, before proceeding farther, to open the letter. They did so, and found to their consternation, that instead of containing what they expected, namely, an order for the restoration of their horses, it was an injunction to the General to hold the bearers fast, as being two notorious rebels, from whom all that was taken was too little. In a mighty rage against their perfidious minister, and yet thankful to Providence that they had escaped his snare, the Russels speedily returned home, nor did they ever again enter Curate Honeyman’s church, except on compulsion.”

[…]

After a few general observations, the conversation turned upon Peden, who seems to have retained a strong hold on the affections of the Scottish peasantry. It is universally allowed by them that he possessed, to an uncommon degree, the spirit of prophecy, and many anecdotes are still current of his wonderful foreknowledge of things, either occurring at a considerable distance at the time he was prophecying concerning them, or which were to take place at some future period. As an instance of his extraordinary gift:–In the year 1684, he spent a few days in the house of one John Slowan, who resided in the parish of Conert, in the county of Antrim. One evening while seated by the fire-side conversing with some friends, he suddenly started to his feet, exclaiming–“Go hide yourself, Sandy, for Colonel —- is coming to this house to apprehend you; and I advise every one here to do the same, and that speedily, for they will be here within the hour.” Which accordingly came to pass. After the soldiers had made a most diligent search without and within the house, actually passing in their eagerness the very bush where he was lying praying, and want off without their prey, Mr. Peden came in and said, “And this gentleman giving poor Sandy such a fright; for this night’s work God will give him such a blow within a a very few days that all the physicians on earth shall not be able to cure.” Which also took place, for Colonel —- soon afterwards died in great misery.

Likewise, on the 22d of June, 1679, that day so fatal to the Covenanting party, Mr. Peden was at a place near the borders, distant about sixty miles from Bothwell Bridge. While there, some one came to inform him that vast crowds of people were collected in the hopes of his preaching, it being the Lord’s-day, upon which he gave utterance to these remarkable words:–“Let the people go to their prayers; for me, I neither can nor will preach any this day; for our friends are fallen and fled before the enemy at Hamilton, and they are hashing and hagging them down, and their blood is running down like water.”

Peden is likewise regarded by his humble admirers as having been peculiarly favoured by the Master whom he so zealously served on earth; and they relate, with sparkling eyes, how the Lord was pleased, at his earnest entreaties, to fill the lagging sails of a boat, which was destined to convey him and several of his companions from Ireland to the then bloody shores of Scotland, with a favourable breeze, whereby they arrived at their destination in safety; while, on his cry to the Lord that the cloak of his almighty power might once more be thrown around him, and those who were then listening to the voice of his petition, when about to fall into the hands of the dragoons, who were rapidly advancing towards them, a thick mist descended on the face of the mountains, and effectually shielded them from their enemies.

Having received from Mr. Brown the necessary directions for finding my way to Peden’s Stone, I once more resumed my walk. After leaving the high-road, my way lay along a wide extent of moor, whose only inhabitants were the curlews and pee-wits which flew around my head in rapid circles, uttering their wild and solitary cries. I experienced an indescribable feeling of nameless horror, although it was broad day-light, on arriving at a post stuck in the centre of four cross roads which marked–a suicide’s grave. There is something revolting in the idea, that there lies a human being, one like ourselves, who, by the commission of an act, perhaps executed while labouring under a temporary fit of insanity, is put as it were without the pale of humanity. The wretched woman thus consigned to a nameless, dishonoured grave, was the wife of a smith who resided a few miles distant from the spot where she was interred. For a few days before the sad occurrence, which took place some thirty or forty years ago, she was observed by those around her to be rather drooping in spirits, but on the morning of her perpetrating the rash act, she seemed restored to her former cheerfulness, and set about putting the house in order. Towards the middle of the day, one of her children came running into its father’s workshop, exclaiming, “Oh, father! come and look at mother, she’s standing on the kirn.” The smith immediately ran to ascertain the truth of the child’s statement, and to his unspeakable horror found his wife hanging suspended by the neck, with her feet resting on the churn. Immediately in the vicinity of her lonely grave, there resided a doctor, who, for the benefit of science, caused her bones to be dug up and conveyed under the cloud of night to his residence, in the garden of which they lay bleaching for days. This circumstance was of itself quite sufficient to excite the superstitious fear of the country people, and immediately that place was invested with “shadows wild and quaint.” Indeed, the woman from whom I had the above account, assured me most solemnly that while residing in that neighbourhood, she had frequently observed strange lights dancing about in the woods, when the more natural light of day had departed. Hurrying past the spot with a nervous shudder, I proceeded as swiftly as possible across the moor. The day, as is often the case at this advanced period of the year, had changed considerably since the morning; dark clouds now scudded along the face of the sky, and wild gusts of wind careered over the heath. Not one human being appeared in sight, save a solitary figure clad in the now almost obsolete scarlet mantle of Scotland, who, considerably in advance of me, walked briskly onwards, looking peculiarly witch-like as the voluminous folds of her cloak swayed backwards and forwards in the wind. Had it been Hallowe’en, I should certainly have mistaken her for one of those merry old ladies, who, wearied of the monotony of walking, cleave the air on broomsticks in a manner wonderful to behold; but as that (to children) enchanting day had not yet arrived, I concluded that it was some aged dame either returning from her market-making in H—- village, or bound, like myself, on a pilgrimage to Peden’s Stone. The rapid pace at which she was walking soon carried her beyond the range of my vision, and I pursued my way lost in conjecture as to who or what she might be.

Nothing more than an incident of this kind serves to illustrate the startling difference between town and country. Hundreds of such beings might pass and re-pass along the crowded streets of a great city unnoticed and uncared for, and yet one such individual, seen on a quiet country road or solitary heath, often affords matter for speculation and amusement during an entire day. Having now arrived at the farm-house to which I was specially directed as being near the spot where stood the memorable stone, I requested of a female, then busily engaged in farming operations, that I might be shown the precise locality of this venerable relic. Being kindly invited to take a seat until a guide could be procured to conduct me thither, I entered, and certainly was not a little astonished at the unwonted aspect of the interior. The roof of the kitchen consisted entirely of huge beams of wood placed across each other while the chimney, also built of wood, reminded one forcibly of those now seldom seen, save in the ruined halls of bygone generations, so capacious were its dimensions; and on one side of the grate, which was sufficiently distant from the chimney to prevent the catastrophe of ignition, was placed the settle, one reads of in Scottish story. It was indeed a veritable “inglenook.” As if in answer to the look of astonishment with which I was regarding the enormous chimney, the female who had followed my footsteps said, with an air of complacency, “Ay, it’s no every day ye’ll see sic a hoose as this; it’s rale auld-fashioned!” Shortly afterwards the young woman who was to act as my conductor on this occasion made her appearance, and we set off on our expedition. Having pointed out to me the locality where lay the object of my search, she returned to the farm, while I pursued my way along the side of Benharr Burn, on the banks of which stood Peden’s Stone. It was indeed a solitary spot, and one well suited for the secret meetings of the persecuted Covenanters. No sound broke in upon the almost oppressive silence that reigned around, save the rippling of the water, which washed the base of the huge piece of rock on which formerly stood the mighty preacher. Surrounding heights concealed this sequestered dell from the observation of those seemingly intent on their destruction, and there would the sentinels be stationed who were to apprise those engaged in this forbidden mode of worship of the approach of their foes. There is something in the aspect of this little ravine which must speak forcibly to the imaginations and feelings of those who love to contemplate aught that is connected with a vanished time. The cold grey stone on which I was now gazing seemed to me a link uniting the remote past and the present, over the mighty gulf that intervened. Nearly two hundred years have passed away since this green turf was pressed by the foot of one who stood foremost amongst the champions of the Covenant. Here, as we are told–it might have been on a lovely summer’s morn, when even to breathe the free air of heaven seemed happiness too exquisite for sinful man to enjoy–when the blue vault of heaven formed a glorious canopy over their pastor’s head, and all nature breathed sweet harmony around; or it might be in the more sober season of autumn, when the deepening russet of the surrounding moor, the falling leaf, and the stillness of the atmosphere–so often perceptible in that season which harbingers the coming winter–seemed more in unison with the gloom which pervaded the Covenanters’ souls, there assembled a mighty crowd to listen to the truths which fell from the lips of Peden. And what spot more suited to their holy purpose! On all sides were they surrounded by scenes famous for their connection with the stirring events of that stormy period. Directly opposite, the mighty Grampians towered majestically in the distance, amid whose solitudes, according to the traditions of the times, the Covenanters, while listening to an impassioned discourse of the zealous Wellwood, were protected from their enemies’ bullets by a man of lofty stature, who stood in the air with his drawn sword extended over the heads of the panic-stricken hearers of the Word of God; while, stretching away on their right hand, the blue range of the Pentlands, so linked with the misfortunes of the devoted party of the Covenant, stood out in bold relief against the sky; and on their left lay the disastrous plain of Bothwell. The whole scene was pictured as though in a mirror before me. Here stood the dauntless preacher of the Word, his grey hairs floating on the breeze, his eye bright with sacred enthusiasm, and his hand, which clasped the sacred Scriptures, raised aloft to heaven as though invoking the presence of Him who hath promised to bless the assemblies of His servants, while the surrounding heights were peopled by a dense mass of human beings, hushed into breathless silence, save when aroused to passionate bursts of sorrow, as the speaker brought home to their hearts the sufferings of those who fought and bled in defence of the Church of Scotland. While indulging thus in reminiscences of the past, I was somewhat startled by the pressure of a hand on my shoulder, and, turning suddenly round, to my no small astonishment I found myself confronted by the wearer of the scarlet mantle, who, coming from what direction I knew not, proceeded to inquire, while she peered up in my face with two small penetrating eyes, “Whether I had come any great distance that morning?”

Having satisfied her curiosity upon that point, I proceeded to make some reflections on the subject of Peden, evidently to the great delight of the antiquated-looking stranger, for, seizing me by the arm, she exclaimed, with kindling eyes–

“O, mam, it does my old heart good to meet with one in these degenerate days who professes an interest in the old Covenanting stock; for, alas! new-fangled notions are rapidly taking possession of people’s minds, old customs are abolished, a love for those sacred rites, so revered by our forefathers, is entertained now but by few, and (a deep sigh) times are changed in Scotland. […]’

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~ by drmarkjardine on October 23, 2015.

One Response to “The Peden Stone at Benhar in Tales of the Covenanters #History”

  1. […] her story on the Peden Stone at Benhar, it builds on […]

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