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May 21, 2012

Medieval Mondays: Cursing Stones!

This is a reproduction of a cursing stone made in 1525. It's inscribed with a curse laid by the Archbishop of Glasgow on the heads of the Border Reivers, Scottish raiders who crossed the border into England to steal livestock. The curse runs more than a thousand words. Here's a sample:

"I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain, their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without. . . May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, since the beginning of the world, to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them. . ."

As scary as the curse is, it didn't work. Only a large English military presence eventually stopped to Reivers.

This isn't the only cursing stone in Europe. They come in all shapes and sizes and another has just been discovered. A so-called bullaun stone discovered on the Isle of Canna, Scotland, dates to about 800 AD. Bullaun stones are found all over the UK as well as France and as far away as Sweden and Lithuania. A bullaun is a natural or artificial depression in a stone that catches rainwater. The water is supposed to have magical properties. Sometimes a stone is placed in the hole. This is then turned as a prayer or curse is made.

The one on the Isle of Canna is a stone with a depression at the base of an early Christian cross. Recently a round stone carved with a cross was found that fits exactly into this depression. Check out the link above for more.


  1. Tory Island has its own tale of a cursing stone. Supposedly, the sinking of the HMS Wasp in the late 1800's was due to the islanders using a cursing stone to prevent the ship from coming to their island to collect taxes. Mysteriously, the cursing stone went missing shortly after the shipwreck, but its pedestal remains on the island. I was so intrigued by this tale, I used it as the basis of my paranormal fantasy novel, ISLAND OF TORY. The sequel, appropriately named CURSING STONE, is due for release in March. You can find out more at