The "rosette stone" at the foot of Ben Lawers on a
cold October dawn. The carving incorporates sun and
moon symbols, and may be designed to balance and
harmonize male and female energies. It is the size of
an outspread human hand. Lindsey Campbell
Those of you who know Loch Tayside, in Highland
Perthshire, deep in the secret heart of Scotland, know
that it is a world apart. It has no wish to associate
itself with the squalid waste of days and resources
that we consider normal life.
It is a rocky place, where the bones of Mother Earth
show everywhere through her skin. Trees and a
profusion of rare wild flowers grow from the sweet
soil and even from the stone itself. A rock, it seems,
is far more than just something placed there by malign
fate to break your ploughshare or your back axle.
Christ said if we took no notice of him, the very
stones would speak. I believe it. Round here they
speak so loudly they give us headaches.
Some of us try to live our ordinary lives in this
extraordinary place, buying and selling and filling in
forms like the rest of you. But even the most mundane
affairs can play tricks on us.
I was walking up to the farm road-end one Thursday
morning to see my seven-year-old son to the school
bus, a white Sherpa minibus. We were a bit late, and
still perhaps a hundred metres from the road end when
we saw a white vehicle coming along the main road.
"There's the school bus" we both said, then a moment
later chorused "Oh no it isn't!"
What we could see now
was not a minibus with windows in the sides but a
delivery van with fancy lettering in fact, the fish
van which came every Thursday morning, usually at an
Nothing surprising so far, until the vehicle, which
had been in plain view the whole time on an otherwise
empty road, turned in at the road-end and proved to be
the school bus after all.
Sean and I looked at each other in bewilderment. He is
a bright, observant and hard-headed child. He would
never have been found dead believing in Santa Claus,
for instance. But we both agreed we had clearly seen
the minibus be the fish van and then become the
We shrugged our shoulders, and Shaun dutifully climbed
aboard the bus. As it drove away, the fish van sailed
by. It must have been a mile or more away at the time
we "saw" it.
On another occasion, my landlord, farmer Drew Brown,
was returning with his tractor and trailer from
feeding the sheep on the hill. I was opening a field
gate for him further along the road. He seemed to be
waiting a very long time to drive across the road,
considering there was no traffic. When he eventually
joined me, he was white and shaken.
"Did a car pass? I saw one coming towards me and
waited and it never came. There's no sign of it now
and there's nowhere it could have gone. It looked like
the green one of Alec's (the next door neighbour)."
He had "seen" the car on the same section of road that
we had "seen" the school bus be the fish van.
A few months later, Drew was working in the field
beside the road. Three times in the course of the
afternoon he saw cars slam on their brakes and stop as
they approached this same place, then drive away very
cautiously. There were no stray sheep or anything else
that Drew could see to account for their behaviour.
I wrote to the local paper describing these incidents
and asking if anyone else had had similar experiences,
particularly in this neighbourhood. I had a number of
interesting replies, including various reports of
"phantom headlights" seen in the area. I learned that
phantom vehicles were almost a commonplace phenomenon.
There is a lonely single-track road on the Isle of
Skye that has been so beset with them for the last
fifty years that even the police now warn visitors not
to be alarmed by them.
When I sat my Gaelic exam, after looking into this,
I was just a little startled by the passage for unseen
translation–it was a story about phantom headlights.
Recently, we have had a new manifestation. Drew's
mother, who is a remarkable old Highland lady, Gaelic
speaking and complete with the Second Sight, walked up
to the road-end at midnight to look for the terrier,
who had gone AWOL.When she looked along the road she
saw that a section of the wire fence perhaps a metre
or so long was brightly lit right from the ground up.
The odd thing, she said, was that although it was
quite bright, it cast neither light nor shadow around
it. There was no traffic on the road, no house nearby,
no possible light source to account for what she saw.
She started to walk towards it a couple of times, but
not unnaturally lost her nerve and decided to go home.
On the way, she found herself completely disorientated
for a moment, within metres of her own house where she
has lived for forty years.
We called in a very remarkable friend of ours, David
Cowan of Crieff.
In the last few years, David has
walked thousands of of miles over Scotland's hills
with his dowsing rods, mapping and studying those
lines of geomagnetic force known as ley-lines.
Computer-trained, he has approached the subject with a
wide-open mind, but in a thoroughly scientific manner.
Some of his discoveries are quite staggering.
He soon found the cause of our phantoms. An unusual
pattern of ley-lines had been deflected by the road at
this point. These conditions can trigger a kind of
"natural hologram" which seems to account for many
sightings of ghosts and apparitions.
David traced this particular pattern to a rock further
up the hill, which had been carved with an unusual
rosette design. David said it had been done
specifically to set up this particular energy pattern
which seemed beneficial.
You may not believe in ley-lines, or in dowsing. Nor
did a neighbouring farmer, who was watching these
investigations with some amusement, until he was
handed the dowsing rods and they swung around in his
hands at the same spot as they had done for David.
Recently, I organized a retreat on a nearby farm for a
number of Mensans. They were all strangers to the
Highlands, to each other, and to me, and came
expecting nothing but a cheap holiday in intelligent
company. I invited David to give us a talk and
demonstration. Soon he had nearly every one of us
dowsing. It was not "all in the mind" and it was not
spooky; it was simply as if the rods were responding
to a magnet.
David told us about his newest work of diagnosing and
adjusting houses containing negative spirals, which
can cause the occupants to suffer headaches and
depressions and even major illnesses such as cancer,
arthritis, multiple sclerosis and m.e. He has made the
remarkable discovery that the prehistoric cup-marked
stones, which have baffled scientists for so long,
were often placed to throw protective bands of energy
around stone buildings. He has learned how to do this
himself, and gave us a demonstration, throwing a snug
cordon of good energy around the farm buildings where
we were staying.
The barn that we used as as meeting hall had always
had a gloomy, sinister feeling at one end, and people
quite unconsciously avoided this area. Now our rods
were picking up a negative line heading straight
across the yard towards that part of the building— and
being turned back on itself by the new band of
protection. And the atmosphere inside the barn is now
David told us many strange stories. One day he was
adjusting a ley-line which seemed to be causing some
trouble. A couple of days later he read in a local
paper that some people in the neighbourhood had been
accosted by a "green witch"who jumped out from behind
a rock said "Tee hee, tee hee!" and vanished. This had
happened at the same time David was working on the
nearby ley-line. The description of the "green witch"
tallied exactly with that of fairy hags of the
Highland legends and "tee hee" is a fair phonetic
rendering of the Gaelic taigh shidhea fairy house.
How little we know of the world we live in and how
little we know what we are doing when we interfere
David also told us that some people, possibly Druids,
chose to be buried under standing stones so that their
consciousness could live on in the area, acting as
guardians. It may seem an odd thing to want to do, but
we Celts do have a strange tendency to fall
desperately and permanently in love with sea-battered
rocks and wind-whipped bog at least, it would be quite
agreeable to spend a few hundred years just watching
the landscape around Loch Tay.
Behind the Primary School in Killin at the head of the
loch stands a small, quite insignificant looking stone
reputed to mark the grave of the great hero of
Scottish and Irish legend, Finn McCumhal. In the next
installment, perhaps I shall tell you of our
adventures with Finn and his warriors of the Fianna!
Lindsey Campbell © 1989