Sawney Bean – Ayrshire’s Favourite Cannibal

South Ayrshire History

On a ledge of rock jutting out high on a cave wall, four figures lie motionless, hoping to remain unseen in their hiding place. The setting is Ayrshire’s rocky Carrick coast in the early 1600s, and the fugitives are young Launce Kennedy of Kirrieoch, his friend the schoolmaster of Maybole, and the two daughters of the Laird of Culzean. Escaping by boat after the rescue of the older girl from her abductors, and pursued through night and mist by hostile vessels, they have sought refuge in a cave at the foot of the sea-cliffs of Bennane Head. Now they realise that in evading their pursuers they have only stumbled into much greater peril.

Sawney1A The cave of Sawney Bean as depicted in one of the illustrations by Seymour Lucas to the 1896 first edition of S. R. Crockett’s The Grey Man

Flaming torches light up the cave, and the four on…

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