The Bodachian Baird

icon Back to all articles

The legend of the Bodachian Baird and how the village of Inver was moved nearer to Tain by a ghost.

In the old days, there was much more sea traffic in the Dornoch Firth than there is now and it was quite common for sailors to raid coastal villages and steal young boys who were then put to work doing menial tasks aboard ship. These raids were usually carried out at night, but when the men had been lost overboard in a storm or had been killed in battle, Captains were sometimes forced to land by day to replenish their crews.

It was during harvest time and the women and the children of Inver were working the fields nearest the village when they saw a ship anchor in the Firth and lower its boats which began rowing towards the beach. A youth was sent to fetch the men who were gathering peats near Bogbain while the women, who knew it was a raid, armed themselves with spades, scythes, pans and whatever else came to hand. When the sailors from the ship landed they were attacked so fiercely that their cries could be heard as far away as Tain and they soon ran for their boats to make good their escape.

One, however, a short stocky man, had been separated from the rest and was left behind to face the angry women of the village coming towards him and turned to run into the sea. But the women were not to be denied their prey and dragged him back to a cave in the back where they sliced of most of his face with a sickle and left him there to die.

However, the man survived his injuries and continued to live in the cave from which he would emerge only after dark to collect shellfish and set rabbit snares. He would hide behind walls and jump up to terrify and children who went out at night, and because of this, the local people called him Bodachan Baird, the old man of the dykes. For many years he remained living near Inver until he was trapped and buried alive by a violent winter storm which filled his cave with shingle and covered it over with a sand dune.

Thinking they had seen the last of the unwelcome neighbour, once more the people of Inver began to go out until, one night, a woman who had been visiting her sister's house came face to face with him as she returned home. Although the Bodachan Baird was dead, his ghost now haunted the village and, despite all their efforts and prayers, his spectre continued to terrorise the villagers until, in desperation, they decided to leave him.

And that is why the village of Inver was moved and is now nearer Tain than it used to be. Some say he still haunts the Inver beach and it would be a brave child who would wander that area at night and risk seeing the horribly mutilated face of the Bodachan Baird appearing from behind a wall. Indeed, not long ago a man from Inver called Johnny Skinner was trapping near the beach at night when everything became unnaturally silent. His dog, which was trembling violently and whining in the most unusual way, seemed to sense something approaching and ran off towards it into the darkness. Johnny followed but, with each step, his foreboding increased until, almost overwhelmed by a strange fear, he turned and went home as quickly as he could.

About five past midnight there was a scratching at the door and he opened it to find the dog standing there, still shaking and whining, with its coat turned as white as flour. he took it in next to the fire, called the vet and tried to comfort it but, to his sorrow, the poor dog died.

When the vet arrived and Johnny told him what happened, he made an examination and diagnosed that, for some unknown reason, the animal had died of heart failure, possibly the result of some terrible fright. the cause of these strange events remains a mystery to this day but, whatever it was, the dog had given its life protecting its master and outside Johnny's house, until it was demolished recently, there stood a monument to the memory of his dog "Thatch".