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Arran of the Bens, The Glens and the Brave
Chapter VI. The Caves of Arran


Close to the great fort at Drumadoon is the famous cave at the base of the hill known as Tor an Righ, or King's Hill, which the sea has worn out of the sandstone. The roof is arched, and the place lofty and spacious, and on the walls are primitive drawings of dogs and horses engaged in the chase, probably dating from prehistoric times, and, according to tradition, intended to represent Fion. In this cave also Bruce and his followers found shelter during their wanderings in the island, and there are the "King's kitchen," stable, and larder.


Enough of fame attaches to the great cave at Drumadoon, for has it not sheltered both the gods in the person of Fion and his friends, and kings in the person of Bruce? Has it not also been of service to common humanity in sheltering many a keg of good spirits, many a bale of good silk, many a pound of fragrant tobacco? Has it not seen more than one tussle between the men of the Revenue cutters which sailed up and down watching the audacious smugglers of Arran and Kintyre? Was not a daring member of the Clan Innain shot somewhere in these parts in an encounter of the kind? So Drumadoon, having served all classes, gods, kings, lords, and commons, need not usurp the glory of the cave in which another member of the Clan MacKinnon made his mark as one of the many noted preachers of Arran. In this cave Mr. Peter Craig, a man greatly liked for his ability and his geniality, held a school for many years which rivalled that of the village schoolmaster, and turned out many good scholars, who afterwards filled important positions in Glasgow and other towns.

The Preaching Cave was also sometimes used for the ordinary Sunday services. Largest of all the Arran caves is that known as the Monster Cave at Bennan Head, which has also been used for religious services at different times. Many ancient stone implements and other remains of primitive life have been found amongst the rubbish on the floor of this place.

The early Scottish missionaries made use of many of the caves of the West Highlands as dwelling-places, and it has bee.n suggested by Mr. Lyteill that the word "Piper's" cave so often applied to them is really the word Pypar, a priest. The dog and piper story which we have all heard would thus probably have arisen from the supposition that the word referred to the ordinary profane piper.


Martin, in his Western Islands, published in 1703, gives a description of the famous healing-stone which is still preserved by the Crawford family. Martin says: "I had like to have forgot a valuable curiosity in this isle, which they call ' Baul muluy,' i.e. Molingus, his Stone Globe. This saint was Chaplain to MackDonald of the Isles; his name is celebrated here on account of this Globe, so much esteemed by the inhabitants. This stone, for its intrinsic value, has been carefully transmitted to posterity for several ages. It is a green stone, much like a globe in figure, about the bigness of a goose egg. The virtues of it is to remove stitches from the sides of sick persons, by laying it close to the place affected, and if the patient does not outlive the distemper they say the stone moves out of the bed of its own accord, and e contra. The natives use this stone for swearing decisive oaths upon it. They ascribe another extraordinary virtue to it, and 'tis this—the credulous vulgar firmly believe that if this stone is cast among the front of an enemy they will all run away, and that as often as the enemy rallies, if this stone is cast among them, they will lose courage and retire.

"They say that MackDonald of the Isles carried this stone about him, and that victory was always on his side when he threw it among the enemy. The custody of this globe is the peculiar privilege of a little family called Clan Chattons, alias Mackintosh. They were ancient followers of MackDonald of the Isles. This stone is now in the custody of Margaret Miller, alias Mackintosh. She lives at Bell-mianich, and preserves the globe with abundance of care. It is wrapped in a fair linen cloath, and about that there is a piece of woollen cloath, and she keeps it still locked up in her chest, when it is not given out to exert its qualities."

One has to be careful of these things, and it is well to note that the ball has one serious disadvantage, which those who may wish to avail themselves of its healing qualities should keep in remembrance, else they might be regarded as guilty of manslaughter or worse. It is that, when the person who carries the globe enters the house of the sick person, the first living thing that crosses the line of his path must die, whether it be as small as a butterfly or as large as the ploughman and four horses who, happening to get into the same latitude, fell down dead in Glen Scorra some time since.

It is a little discouraging to know that the globe is somewhat damaged through misadventure, showing clearly that the physician had not power to heal itself.

As to its quality in aiding swearing it is also a little out of date, and we doubt a week in Cowcaddens, the Candlerigs, or in White-chapel would fit one out with a fuller vocabulary than even Baul Muluy.

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