The Lady of Lawers’ prophecies have been coming true for three centuries
MOST villages have at least one meddlesome resident. The old village of Lawers was no different, except it turned out that their meddler was always right.
In the late 17th century, the Lady of Lawers lived in this Perthshire settlement on the banks of Loch Tay. Her real name has been long forgotten, but her eerie prophecies are remembered to this day.
The building of the local church in 1669 worried her particularly. She watched as its ridging stones arrived by boat, telling everyone they would “never be placed on the roof of the church”. They no doubt had a wee chuckle behind her back, but the Lady of Lawers had the last laugh when a storm blew the stones into the loch.
Her neighbours paid a bit more attention to her ominous utterances from then on, but it would be many years after her death before her most devastating predictions came true. When an ash tree was planted beside the church, the Lady foretold that ”when it reaches the height of the gable, the church will split asunder”.
In 1833, when the tree was indeed the height of the gable, a thunder-storm destroyed the church.
There wasn’t much the villagers could do, because she also said any person who dared to harm it would meet a grisly end. In the 1870s, a brave farmer named John Campbell chopped down the tree, despite the Lady’s sinister warning. Shortly afterwards, his bull gored him to death, and the horse that dragged away the felled tree dropped dead!
When she claimed that “the land will first be sifted and then riddled of its people, and the jaw of the sheep will drive the plough from the ground”, many believe she was predicting the Highland Clearances.
She also saw the invention of steamboats (“a ship driven by smoke”) and the railway (“fire-coaches”). She was bursting with prophecies about the Breadalbane family, whom she loathed, that were still coming true in 1948, when the Countess of Breadalbane sold her house and left on a grey pony, just as the Lady had said.
Old Lawers village is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Lady of Lawers is said to haunt the site, waiting for one of her unfulfilled prophecies to come true: “The time will come when Ben Lawers will become so cold that it will chill and waste the land for seven miles.” So take a scarf and gloves, just in case!