A Renfrewshire Ghost Story

From the Lanercost Chronicle… Set at Duchal Castle…

AT this time, in the west of Scotland, in the valley of the Clyde, about four miles from Paisley, there happened in the house of a knight, Duncan de Lyle, an event at once dreadful and wonderful, which may fill the wicked with fear, and show the appearance of the damned on the day of the final resurrection. Under cover of our holy religion, a certain man had lived in wickedness and died in sin, with the ban of excommunication upon him for sacrilege committed in his monastery. Having long after his burial frightened several in the same monastery (that of Paisley) by appearing to them in the shades of night, this son of darkness went to the house of the said knight to try the faith of the simple and scare them by contending with them in daylight, or rather to indicate in this way, by a mysterious judgement of heaven, who were implicated in his crime. Assuming a bodily form, whether natural or aerial, is uncertain, but foul, gross, and palpable, he used to appear in broad daylight in the dress of a black monk, and to take up his position on the top of the houses or granaries. If anyone attacked him with arrows, or sought to transfix him with pitchforks, whatever pierced that accursed mass, was on the very instant reduced to ashes, and all that wrestled with him he shook and mauled as if he would break every bone in their bodies. In these contests the young squire, the knight’s eldest son, was specially troublesome to him. One evening, as the head of the family was sitting at the fireside with his domestics, the spectre appeared among the crowd and terrified them with missiles and with blows, and when the rest fled, the young squire alone stayed to fight ; but, sad to tell, was found next day slain by the ghost. Now, if it is true that the dead receive power over none but those that live like swine, we may easily infer why that youth met with his death in such a manner.