As my friends know, my passion is History...and I'm fascintated by all the strange tales we find in the darkest,loneliest back alleys of the past...stories full of horror, humour, and hatred.....stories from The Dark Side...and here's Sawney Bean!!
Sawney ( Alexander) Bean was the semi-mythical head of a 48 member clan in !5th-16th Century Scotland. ...He was born in East Lothian in the 1500's, his father was a ditch digger and hedge trimmer, but Sawney quickly realised that he had little taste for hard work.He met up with a woman, Black Agnes Douglas, who shared his ideas about avoiding hard labour, and the couple ended up living in a coastal cave between Girvan and Ballantrae.
They attracted a group of ne'er do wells into their community and they settled into a life of easy living. They preyed upon individuals and small
groups of travellers, robbing them and taking them back to their cave, there to murder them and eat their body parts.Eventually, the Bean clan numbered 48 men, women and several children-many of these were the result of incest.
Local people noted the number of disappearances, but the clan remained very secretive, only emerging at night to carry out their diabolical deeds.
Suspicions grew that something evil was happening... One night, a farmer and his wife were riding home from a fair.They were attacked by Sawney and his people, but the man was skilled in combat and defended himself with sword and pistol.His wife was attacked by the women of the clan, and was fatally wounded,but the farmer was aided by the appearance of others, returning home after the fair, and Sawney and his people were chased off.
Investigations were begun in the area-some accounts claim that search parties led by King James V1 of Scotland discovered the cave of Sawney Bean. Horrific sights greeted them...joints of human bodies hung from the roof of the cave and choice body parts had been pickled for future feasting....piles of the personal possessions of victims cluttered the corners of the cave and above everything was the smell of putrefaction and corruption....
The clan members were all captured, and taken to prison in Edinburgh. The men had their genitals cut off, their hands and feet severed and were allowed to bleed to death. The women and children were forced to watch this and were then burned alive...
True, or myth?
There are no mentions of hundreds of people disappearing in that area...no mention of Sawney Bean from that time...no official records of the tribe's punishment or death...and it should be remembered that this was the time of the Jacobite risings, and all Scots were portrayed as evil, murdering thugs who would gladly kill the English in their beds!!Maybe this was propaganda against the Scottish people, in the name of Sawney Bean?...
Some historians think that the story did have its basis in fact, but several centuries earlier than the dates we're given....perhaps a folk memory of human sacrifice in the distant past? a fascinating piece of History's Dark Side!