Sunday, 2 January 2011

Dumfries and Galloway legend

Kate Crackernuts by K.M,Briggs is part legend and part manufactured story. It is really about the power of witchcraft and the friendship between two girls who share almost the same name. The story is set in the time of the civil war when King Charles tried to use a Scottish army in order to defeat the forces of parliament until he was defeated at the battle of Worcester. However, the action is mostly centred on the small communities along the Scottish edge of (Dumfries and Galloway) of the Solway Firth. The two Kates live in Auchenskeouch Castle in Dalbeatie. Events take place in such coastal locations as Kircudbright,Colvend, Port o'Warren and Kippford. Castle Douglas and Douglas Hall are also mentioned. The climax of the story is the pursuit of the two Kates as they set out to leave from Kippford in order to land in England. Eventually their journey is completed in Maryport but not before the ship that pursues them is sunk with all hands in the mid-channel. Amongst those who perish are Kate's mother and Kate's stepmother - the same person.
"Four went down with her. Black Hew, with his dazed mind still held in blind obedience to the witchwife, went down trapped under the thwarts without a struggle. The other three rose up ans beat the water in anger and fear and frowing black despair."
The author knows that she is a notorious witch who is trying to win her daughter to the dark side and to take revenge on her stepdaughter whom she hates out of sheer malevolence. The principal activity of the witches takes place on Criffel, the highest peak of the coastal range and the prominent landmark across the Solway today.

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