The Dundee Messenger

The Falcon Stone - an ancient landmark in St Madoes

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The Falcon Stone is an ancient landmark in St Madoes

The Falcon Stone is an ancient landmark in St Madoes.

Legend states that a countryman and his two sons were busy ploughing a field near Luncarty when a ferocious battle began raging between Kenneth 111 and a group of Danish marauders. The Danes appeared to be getting the upper hand and many of Kenneth's supporters began retreating.

The countryman ordered his sons to gather up their implements and help him stop the rout. With only an Ox-Yoke for a weapon the countryman and his sons managed to turn the tide and lead the men back into battle. The Scots were inspired by the countryman's strength and courage managed to turn the tables on the Danes.

As a reward for his contribution to the victory Kenneth commanded that a falcon would be let loose from Kinnoull Hill and that as far as it flew, the land would belong to his family. The bird flew to an ancient standing stone in St. Madoes, which is still known as the Falcon Stone.

The coat of arms of the Hay family carries three bloodstained shields representing the father and his two sons, the falcon, the ox-yoke and two peasants, representing the two sons.

The Hays of Errol
It is alleged that the fate of the Hays of Errol, was bound up in a profusion of mistletoe which grew on a massive Oak tree near the falcon stone. Writing in 1882, a decendant of that family, recorded the belief: "It was believed that a sprig of Mistletoe cut by a member of the Hay family on Allhallowmas eve, with a new dirk after surrounding the the tree three times sunwise, and pronouncing a certain spell, was a sure charm against wichery, and an infallible guard in the day of battle. The two most unlucky deeds which could be done by a member of the Hay family was, to kill a white falcon, and to cut a limb from the Oak of Errol.

Many charms and legends were associated with the tree, and the duration of family was united with its existence."

The sage Thomas the Rhymer is credited with having uttered the prophesy thus:
"While the mistletoe bats on Errols aik, and the aik stands fast,
The Hays shall flourish, and their good grey hawk
Shall nocht flinch before the blast.But when the root of the aik dacays
and the mistletoe dwines on its withered breast,
The grass shall grow on Errol's hearthstane,
And the corbie roup in the falcon's nest"
Adapted from the book Lore of the forest by Alexander Porteous

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