The myth of Mary Rose Child

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland


The myth of Mary Rose Child

In a Meadow betwixt Stoneymeadow and Blantyre runs a Brook supplied by a natural spring which runs down the length of Hen Farm Brae. In this picturesque area lies a grave at a crossroads with a stone marked, ‘Mary Rose Child’.

So, who was Mary Rose Child?

Mary Rose ChildSome say she was a witch because every sight of her suggested that this was the case. A slight figure with a head of curls and a pale face, usually dressed in a long flowing black dress, Mary Rose was about eighteen summers when she was first noticed in the meadow. If she wasn’t dancing on the hillside she was seen surrounded by wild animals and birds like Rooks, Crows, Badgers, Wolves, hedgehogs and even the odd Fawn.

She would often be seen collecting flora and herbs from the meadow and washing them in the brook.

It seemed that she had a way with the creatures of the wild who would seek her out when injured or feeling poorly. She would use the herbs to make a poultice to heal the injuries and ease the pain.

No one knew where she came from or for that matter where she lived, she just seemed to appear with the morning mist and disappear in the twilight.

She became somewhat of a local legend as people, when gathered, would comment on her activities and some even branding her as a witch.

One theory is that she was called Mary Rose Child because she was a foundling taken in by an elderly Lady called Mary, who rose (raised) her as her child, hence, ‘Mary Rose Child’.

Although this was 1748 and Witchcraft was more a superstition than reality, fear flung accusations were rife. The sad truth about witches was that you didn’t have to be one – or even believe in them – to be executed for witchcraft.

Originally, burning at the stake was primarily used for women convicted of treason (men convicted of treason were hanged, drawn and quartered). Later, burning at the stake became a popular punishment for men and women accused of heresy or witchcraft.

Law required that victims be strangled before burning at the stake, but many victims were deliberately burned alive.

However, Mary Rose Child was never officially accused of witchcraft so was not burned at the stake but alas was found dead in her beloved meadow, by the Brook, apparently strangled. Was she strangled before being burned at the stake? And found before the burning could be carried out? No one knows for sure.

It was the custom in those days that unusual or questionable behaviour of a person be buried at a Crossroads in order to confuse the Spirit on which direction to take, therefore leaving the Spirit in a state of confusion for all time.

Mary Rose Child's grave

So, on the Northwest corner of the Crossroads, in the Meadow betwixt Stoneymeadow and Blantyre, once a busy thoroughfare but now merely a pathway, lies the body of Mary Rose Child in a grave with a simple stone as a marker. The log shaped stone is covered with moss but if you were to rub the moss off you would see the inscription, ‘Mary Rose Child’.

And should you happen to stumble upon this resting place during your Summer walk, you will notice that a single beautiful Yellow Rose grows there as it has done every year for over 250 years… but please don’t ever pick the Rose… just in case Mary Rose Child really was and still is… a Witch.

Bill Sim


Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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