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TITLE
Willock and the Kelpie of Slochd
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_I_F_GRANT_03
PLACENAME
Slochd
DISTRICT
Badenoch
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Duthil and Rothiemurchus
DATE OF RECORDING
1969
PERIOD
1960s
CREATOR
Isabel F. Grant
SOURCE
The School of Scottish Studies Archives
ASSET ID
1352
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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In this audio extract, Dr. I. F. Grant tells the story of a member of the Willock family and his encounter with a kelpie at Slochd. She is being interviewed by Eric Cregeen, Glasgow University Extra-mural department's first Resident Tutor in Argyll (1954-66).

Audio extract by kind permission of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, University of Edinburgh.

'I don't know if you've come across stories about a family called Willock? They lived near - You haven't?

Interviewer: No.

Well, you will, in a great many - at least in books of traditions and folklore. They lived near Grantown and they were supposed - well, the hero of the family - is supposed to have met a kelpie just at the Slochd, where the railway goes up, you know, from Strathspey and over the hill to Strathdearn, and there's a cutting and there's a marshy bit at the bottom. But before the cutting was made the marsh bit was much more and it was supposed to be a bottomless loch inhabited by a kelpie. And Willock, according to the story, he'd had a good drink inside him, he grasped the kelpie by the bridle and mastered it, and took it back to his farm beyond Grantown and used it as a workhorse, and it was an admirable horse. And he kept the bridle very carefully, and I think he died, and I think it was his son's wife, or grandson's wife, who very stupidly saw the bridle, threw it out, and the kelpie simply gave a wild screech and disappeared. Well that is the yarn.

But the surprising thing is, my grandfather had Clune - he afterwards sold it - which is an estate up the Findhorn, not very far from - and my brother had a very interesting old rental which I was looking at - he'd showed in avery interesting way that different people had different pieces of land dotted about - and the name Willock appeared, holding a lot of pieces of land. Well, that is not at all a Gaelic name - I was very much astonished. And I went on looking and there was a little - a few notes with it - and the family obviously came from Portsoy, that was their inhabitant, and apparently they'd got this land through lending money - through wadsets. Now, if they were incomers, and were very unpopular, and yet had made a lot of cash, that accounted for a lot of the story.

Interviewer: Mmmm. Yes, yes.

I mean I think that was rather interesting because - I mean otherwise I'd never come across the word, the name Willock.

Interviewer: No, no.'

Although born in Edinburgh and brought up in London, Isabel Frances Grant was 'first and foremost a Highlander, with a strong sense of belonging in the north country and in particular to the Grant country of Strathspey. She was justifiably proud of her family and their long domicile in the Highlands as the Grants of Tullochgorm' (Hugh Cheape, 2007).

Her interest in Highland life and culture shaped her writing and the museum she founded. Originally known as Am Fasgadh, (the Shelter), her collection and vision form the basis of what exists as the Highland Folk Museum today.

Well versed in Scottish history and Highland folk culture, Isabel Grant wrote her first book 'Everyday Life of an Old Highland Farm' in 1924, based upon the eighteenth-century account books of a distant ancestor, William Mackintosh of Balnespick, near Kingussie. Travelling through Europe, she was profoundly influenced by the open air museum movement and in 1934 she determined to follow by establishing a Highland folk museum. She resolved to record as much as she could of the quickly disappearing ways of Highland life as well as preserve many of its associated objects.

In parallel to her collecting activities, Isabel Grant continued writing and publishing. Her seminal work, 'Highland Folk Ways' (1961) detailed the material and non-material culture of the Highlands, primarily illustrating the former using the collections she had established herself. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1948 by The University of Edinburgh and an MBE in 1959 for her contributions to scholarship.

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Willock and the Kelpie of Slochd

INVERNESS: Duthil and Rothiemurchus

1960s

audio; literary landscapes

The School of Scottish Studies Archives

Literary Landscapes: Isabel Grant

In this audio extract, Dr. I. F. Grant tells the story of a member of the Willock family and his encounter with a kelpie at Slochd. She is being interviewed by Eric Cregeen, Glasgow University Extra-mural department's first Resident Tutor in Argyll (1954-66).<br /> <br /> Audio extract by kind permission of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, University of Edinburgh.<br /> <br /> 'I don't know if you've come across stories about a family called Willock? They lived near - You haven't? <br /> <br /> Interviewer: No.<br /> <br /> Well, you will, in a great many - at least in books of traditions and folklore. They lived near Grantown and they were supposed - well, the hero of the family - is supposed to have met a kelpie just at the Slochd, where the railway goes up, you know, from Strathspey and over the hill to Strathdearn, and there's a cutting and there's a marshy bit at the bottom. But before the cutting was made the marsh bit was much more and it was supposed to be a bottomless loch inhabited by a kelpie. And Willock, according to the story, he'd had a good drink inside him, he grasped the kelpie by the bridle and mastered it, and took it back to his farm beyond Grantown and used it as a workhorse, and it was an admirable horse. And he kept the bridle very carefully, and I think he died, and I think it was his son's wife, or grandson's wife, who very stupidly saw the bridle, threw it out, and the kelpie simply gave a wild screech and disappeared. Well that is the yarn. <br /> <br /> But the surprising thing is, my grandfather had Clune - he afterwards sold it - which is an estate up the Findhorn, not very far from - and my brother had a very interesting old rental which I was looking at - he'd showed in avery interesting way that different people had different pieces of land dotted about - and the name Willock appeared, holding a lot of pieces of land. Well, that is not at all a Gaelic name - I was very much astonished. And I went on looking and there was a little - a few notes with it - and the family obviously came from Portsoy, that was their inhabitant, and apparently they'd got this land through lending money - through wadsets. Now, if they were incomers, and were very unpopular, and yet had made a lot of cash, that accounted for a lot of the story.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Mmmm. Yes, yes.<br /> <br /> I mean I think that was rather interesting because - I mean otherwise I'd never come across the word, the name Willock.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: No, no.'<br /> <br /> Although born in Edinburgh and brought up in London, Isabel Frances Grant was 'first and foremost a Highlander, with a strong sense of belonging in the north country and in particular to the Grant country of Strathspey. She was justifiably proud of her family and their long domicile in the Highlands as the Grants of Tullochgorm' (Hugh Cheape, 2007). <br /> <br /> Her interest in Highland life and culture shaped her writing and the museum she founded. Originally known as Am Fasgadh, (the Shelter), her collection and vision form the basis of what exists as the Highland Folk Museum today. <br /> <br /> Well versed in Scottish history and Highland folk culture, Isabel Grant wrote her first book 'Everyday Life of an Old Highland Farm' in 1924, based upon the eighteenth-century account books of a distant ancestor, William Mackintosh of Balnespick, near Kingussie. Travelling through Europe, she was profoundly influenced by the open air museum movement and in 1934 she determined to follow by establishing a Highland folk museum. She resolved to record as much as she could of the quickly disappearing ways of Highland life as well as preserve many of its associated objects.<br /> <br /> In parallel to her collecting activities, Isabel Grant continued writing and publishing. Her seminal work, 'Highland Folk Ways' (1961) detailed the material and non-material culture of the Highlands, primarily illustrating the former using the collections she had established herself. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1948 by The University of Edinburgh and an MBE in 1959 for her contributions to scholarship.