The Court-Martial of the Morangie Stone


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Extract from ‘Sketches and stories of Scotland by Miss Catherine Sinclair

“We plodded on very comfortably for some time after leaving Tain, and trotted leisurely downhill towards a bridge, near one side of which, in a flat cultivated field lay, an enormous black whinstone, about fifty feet round, It looked like a prodigious haggis, or a deceased elephant, or any other huge ungainly animal, prostrate beside the highway; but whatever our horse mistook it for, he suddenly sprung aside, threw his fore-feet over the opposite parapet, and struggled violently to leap over. I have a confused recollection of tearing down the apron and springing beyond the carriage wheel to the ground. - I felt for a moment as if the roof of my head had flown off!

Having at length summoned the courage to take a glance over the parapet, and ascertain the worst, I saw our vehicle lying upside down on a bank beneath, and our traitor of a horse struggling in the shafts. Some days afterwards I transmitted an account of our accident to the Provost of Tain, suggesting that the great stone should be tried by a court-martial, and broke, as the lives of her Majesty's lieges were endangered by so formidable-looking an object near the high road; but an answer arrived by return of post, stating that the said stone was a great geological curiosity, a special favourite with scientific men and that sixty years ago our correspondent's own mother had nearly been killed by her horse taking fright on the same spot, but she could then obtain no redress. A suggestion was made at that time to cut up this wonderful phenomenon into milestones, but the town of Tain rose in arms against so flagrant a proposition; and, in short, every traveller's bones may be broken rather than this illustrious rock—but it would be desirable that the horses in that neighbourhood should learn better notions of geology.”