16 Mar 2016

Local Hero 1: The Wolfe of Badenoch

There are many facts and fancies told of  the Wolfe of Badenoch's dastardly and rapacious deeds.  For instance, in a fit of pique against the church he  destroyed Elgin cathedral, and he likewise caused great destruction in Forres, all of which makes him a local anti-hero. Legend says he died in 1394. Others maintain it was in 1405, after he played chess with the devil, a coming together of minds that had dire consequences for the Wolfe. Here is how the tale of that meeting goes:

The Wolfe was visited at Ruthven Castle by a tall lean man dressed in black. The man told the Wolfe that he wished to play a game of chess with him. Knowing nothing about the devil and his renowned prowess at chess the Wolfe’s pride caused him to accept the challenge. The game went on for several hours until the tall dark man moved one of the chess pieces and, rising from the table, called 'Check' and then 'Checkmate!' As his cries echoed around the castle there was a terrible roll of thunder, followed by violent hail and great slashes of forked lightening which tore apart the sky. The storm continued throughout the night. As dawn broke a dreadful silence fell on the castle. It was then that neighbours courageous enough to approach discovered the Wolfe's men outside the castle walls, dead and blackened, as if they had all been struck by the lightening. The Wolfe himself was found in the banqueting hall, and although his body appeared unmarked, the nails in his boots had  been torn out.

The funeral was held for the dead two days later, the procession of coffins led, as befitted his royal lineage, by the Wolfe's own. Again a terrible storm arose with thunder and lightening crashing overhead. It came closer and closer, gathering in intensity as each of the coffins joined the solemn procession. It was only after the Wolfe's coffin was put to the back of the line that the storm would cease. Once that happened the black storm clouds rolled away.

It seems the bad boy of Badenoch had even offended Satan.

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