The Punishment of Lady Lindsay

Lady Lindsay

Lady Lindsay

Around 1489 Alexander, Master of Lindsay, and his brother John, sons of the fifth Earl of Crawford, quarrelled and fought at Inverqueich Castle, in Lower Strathardle.

Alexander was severely wounded, he should have recovered had his wife not helped him on his way by smothering him with a down pillow as he lay in bed weak from loss of blood.

She was Lady Janet Gordon, daughter of George, Earl of Huntly and his wife, Princess Annabella daughter of King James I.  No sooner has she got rid of Lindsay then she took a second husband and married Patrick, son of Lord Grey. Coincidentally he died soon after they were married. Then without waiting she was married a third time, this time to Halberston of Southwood.

Inverqueich Castle is still talked about as 'Lady Lindsay’s Castle'.  It doesn't exist today.

Inverqueich Castle is still talked about as ‘Lady Lindsay’s Castle’. It doesn’t exist today.

Her crime had gone unpunished but in 1500 she was brought to trial and found guilty for the murder of the Master of Lindsay. Her punishment was to be imprisoned for the rest of her life on the top of Craig-an-Fhithiche (The Raven’s Rock), an impressive cliff that rises about 300 feet above the River Ericht; and here every day before she was allowed to eat and drink, she had to spin a thread long enough to reach from her prison down till it reached the water of the river, and there she lingered on, spinning her daily thread to an extreme old age. She is said to have lived to be over a hundred years of age.

Here history stops but as usual local tradition steps in, and draws aside the veil of time, and tells us how:

“Lady Lindsay sat on the Raven’s Rock,
An weary spun the lee lang day,
Tho’ her fingers were worn, they aye bore the stain
O’ the blood o’er her first lurve, the lycht Lindsay,”

1843 engraving from an old book called Perthshire Illustrated

1843 engraving from an old book called Perthshire Illustrated of the dramatic cliffs leading down to River Ericht

Then at last her shrivelled fingers were worn by the constant friction of the thread to mere stumps, and then she died. But as local legend tells us there was no rest for this murderess, for there her ghost was seen to sit and spin, and often a fisherman as he fished in the clear waters below Raven Rock was startled to see a shadowy thread coming slowly down from above till it touched the water when it instantly disappeared and the scared fisherman knew that the Lady Lindsay’s task was at least over for that day. So the thread of time was spun.

River Ericht - watch out when fishing

River Ericht – watch out when fishing

About Amanda Moffet

I run with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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3 thoughts on “The Punishment of Lady Lindsay

  1. Leisa Martick

    Thank You Ms. Moffet for the interesting legend of Lady Lindsay. I am a descendant of Earl Lindsay.


    Leisa Martick

  2. Mike Weathersby

    Hi! Interesting story. My family descends from Gordon and my wife from Lindsay. I’ve often seen that the clans were rivals but never could find a reason why.

  3. Vera-Lynn Smella

    I’m just starting to research my Grandfather’s name .He is a Lindsay as for as I know the only one left from his family .He had 5 daughters and so the name won’t carrie on . I named my son Lindsay .but as a first name only .I’m looking forward to learn more about the clan .


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