Sunday, 31 October 2010

31st: Does it still exist?

While researching the TAYLORs that inter-relate with the FAIRBAIRNs of Greenlaw etc, I found this lovely little story about a memorial stone in the Threeburnford (Channelkirk, Berwickshire) stables.
The story comes from a History of Channelkirk, written in 1900 by a Reverend Archibald ALLAN, found on Google books.

A stone ... in the shape of a horse-shoe, with the arch at the top and the open part resting on a flat band at the foot. Part of the top of the stone is worn or broken off, as the block has been removed to different parts of the farm during its existence, and has had adventures.

On the legs of the "shoe" are two inscriptions.
When facing the stone, that on the left hand reads, "Behold a sower went forth to sow, Matt. 13 and 3. One soweth and another reapeth;"
and that on the right reads, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, Hosea 10 and 12."
In the central space is the worn figure of a man with a sowing sheet.

On the right-hand corner of the flat-band or plinth, at the foot, there has been a date, but it is now too much obliterated to be discernable. Some have affirmed it to be 1734, but others, with more likelihood, believe it to be far older.

The legend connected with it is religious, of course, and characteristically Scotch, in that it sets forth the profanity of working on Sabbath.
The farmer of Threeburnford, at some remote date (days and names all being rubbed out for ever), was anxious to sow his pease, and taking advantage of a fine Sabbath morning suitable for his purpose, "went forth to sow," sorely against the will and warnings of his "better half" He persisted, however, and sowed his field, though not "in righteousness."
And, as a consequence, the judgment fell in the usual form.
A thunderstorm swept across the moors in wrath, " cramming all the blast before it ; in its breast the thunderbolt," which slew at one fell blow the poor over-busy farmer.
And so, what he sowed another reaped.

There is no reason to doubt the tradition. It is enamelled into the local folklore, and it is here verified in stone. The stone is evidently a memorial one, similar to many which were set up in all the " kirkyairds " of the country at one time. But the stone, homely in its sculpture, and carefully hewn, we may be sure, on the steading, during many earnest hours, could not be set up in the churchyard, for obvious reasons. The farmer could not be buried there. It would have been sacrilege; and more so, if the stone points to a period before the Reformation, which it reasonably enough may. He was accursed of God. No consecrated ground could tolerate his corpse. He would consequently be buried where they found him, or about the steading somewhere. The stone would originally be set up over his remains, and during the changes of building on the farm it would also change its locality with them. The " preaching " of the stone bears strong confirmation of the truth of the legend. The texts, or part texts, have been carefully selected to emphasise the disaster." Behold a sower went forth to sow" is the latter part of Matthew xiii. 3; while "one soweth and another reapeth " is the latter part of John iv. 37.
The legend could not possibly have a more weighty comment, while the words "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy," from Hosea x. 12, first clause, prove the long search that had been undertaken to find words appropriate enough to clinch the terrible facts. For the farmer had not sown in righteousness, and reaped far other
(the scan of the book is missing about 6 pages at this point)

My interest in the property was one John TAYLOR of Threeburnford, who bought the property in May 1841, entailing it on his son and heirs. By 1900 it was still owned by a TAYLOR, probably a descendant of John's brother Joseph, although being farmed by a BELL family. Not that John farmed it either, he was tenant at Kirktonhill at the time.
Do the stables, and therefore the stone, still exist at Threeburnford?
Anyone likely to be passing with a camera?

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