The Treasure of Norries Law.
On The Fife coast sits the pretty village of Lower Largo. The village was the Birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration behind the story of Robinson Crusoe and a sign in the village points to the Juan Fernandez Islands, some 7,500 miles away where Selkirk was a castaway. The history of the area goes back much much further though to a time before Scotland as we know even existed.
Outside the village sits Largo Law and around a mile to the North, Norrie’s Law, ancient burial mounds that indicate the great antiquity of the occupation of this area.
It was common among the children of the village to play a game that had a connection to Norrie’s Law. One child would stand before the others and recite a verse; “I’ll tell you a story, Aboot Tammie o Norrie, If ye dinna speak in the middle o’ it, Will ye no?” The object of the game was to lure another child into saving “No” at which point all the others would shout, “The spell is broken, ye hae spoken, Yell never hear the story o’ lang Tarn o Norrie.” Like so many other children games this has a story behind it – a story of the ghost of Norrie’s Law.
In a time long past Largo Law was reputed to be haunted by an earthbound spirit; a ghost sentenced to wander the earth until a spell was broken to release it. To break the spell the ghost had to give up his secret; the hiding place of a hoard of treasure, buried somewhere on Largo Law.
On the nearby farm of Balmain there was a fairly unscrupulous shepherd. Having heard the story he had spent many nights wandering the area around the Law in hope of discovering the treasure. Finally one evening as he walked around the Northern shoulder of the hill he was confronted by a shimmering cloud of smoke. Many others had met this apparition but all had fled in terror. Taken aback at first he gathered all his courage to approached it and asked what it was that kept it bound to this realm. The ghost fixed him with a stare and said:”If Auchendowie cock disnae craw, An the herd o Balmain disnae blaw, I’ll tell ye whar the gold is on Largo Law.” The ghost then quickly ran through the small print of his offer which also included the cut off time of 8 o’clock the following evening.
The shepherd was only concerned about getting his hand on the treasure and cared little of who he had to inconvenience to achieve his ends. He thought of the first part of the ghosts request and scurried off the Auchedowie farm. The next morning the farmer and his wife slept in, never awoken by the crowing of the cockerel. When they went off to investigate they found the cockerel strangled and tossed into a heap of straw by the barn. Phase one complete.
Now for the Herdsman of Balmain. The herdsman was called Tammie O’ Norrie and it was safe to say there was little love lost between him and the shepherd. As Tammie set off to take his cows to pasture the shepherd was waiting. He blocked his path and shouted to Tammie ‘Hey you, Tammie O Norrie, I want a word wae ye”. As Tammie approached the shepherd let his coat slip open to reveal a long knife tucked into his belt. “You had better no blaw yer horn to summon in yon cows the nicht or it will be the worse fur ye”. Tammie was confused; “How no! How will I caw the cows in with nae horn?” The shepherd gripped the handle of his knife; “Ye can use the dugs to round them up – now mind what a said or it will be the worse for ye”. At that he glowered at the herdsman and furtively took off.
With all the plans in place the shepherd made his way back to the north slope of the hill, just before 8:00 the spectre appeared again. As the shepherd approached the ghost the sound of Tam’s horn was heard in the distance. The ghost flew into a rage; “Woe to the man that blew that horn, For out of that spot he shall never be borne.” At that he vanished. The shepherd ran for all he was worth, determined to have it out with the herdsman but when he reached the spot he was met with an awful sight. There in the field stood Tam O Norrie, the horn horn still pressed to his lips but he had turned to stone – petrified literally by the wandering spirit.
The shepherd told no one of his involvement in the events and when the local people discovered what had befell Tam they tried to move him – but some sinister force prevented all attempts, finally they gave up and heaped the earth around him creating another small hill; this came to be known as ‘Norries Law’.
The shepherd never got his prize but many years later a hoard of silver (not gold) was unearthed nearby. It is one of the best silver hoards to be discovered in Scotland. a variation in this tale had been that the law was the burial sight of a viking called Norroway who had been buried on his horse in full armour. However investigation of the find discovered that the pieces were of Pictish rather than Norse origin. Sadly some of the hoard never made it to the protection of the museum, some coins and other pieces were reputed to have been sold off and melted down – we may never know just how extensive this treasure find really was.
‘Will we no’.