A strange sound at Nigg


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A report in the newspaper from April of 1842 tells of "Strange Sound" being heard at Nigg a place infamous for its death lights, wraiths and mysterious noises that were often said to foretell "a drowning."

"There is, at present, much talking, much pondering, much guessing, and a good deal of head-shaking, occasioned by a "strange sound," which, on Wednesday sennight, many people heard throughout Easter-Ross; and, mayhap, in other districts too. We being housekeepers at the time, had not the fortune to hear it; but it has been thus described to us by an artisan residing on the hill of Nigg, a man above the rural class of intelligence and credibility.

This mysterious sound was first heard about 1 o'clock, P.M. It was not continuous, but returned after intervals of about five minutes till sun-setting when it ceased. According to our informant, it resembled "the noise of the wind when passing across an empty barrel." Indeed, he at first thought was thus, occasioned, as there happened to be such a barrel standing near him; but, on turning it upside down, he found the strange sound still continued. He then went into his cottage and asked his family whether they had heard any unusual noise, but they had heard nothing.

On, going out of doors, however, they all heard it distinctly. It was low, equable, and monotonous; and none of them could discover whence it came- from what airt, whether from below or above. Was it "an air from heaven" or "a blast from hell"- or "the panting of the earth's profound heart?” -was its design wicked or propitious? No; they could not divine what it was, whence it came, or what it portended; and so their minds were filled with a solemn dread.

-Our informant, on subsequent inquiry in the surrounding district, found that the same sound had been distinctly heard by many others, who were equally struck by its strangeness, and at a loss to account for its origin. Some shook their heads and said, they feared it was the distant sound of the awful earthquake that was then, according to ancient prophecy, destroying London, swallowing up "the modern Babylon" that great city.

Minds tinged with superstition are ever apt to clothe the impalpable and the obscure with the terrible and the portentous; and, we suspect, there are not a few in this quarter who, if their lot had been cast in St Giles' or the environs of the Seven Dials, would have sympathized with their brother Celts, the Irish, and joined them in a "timeous" and timorous exit from the doomed metropolis. There seems to be no doubt that such a sound as we have described, was really heard; but we opine, that, on due inquiry, it will be found referable to a cause less remote and tremendous than a metropolitan earthquake."