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Sanquhar Churchyard

According to local lore the ghost of Abraham Crichton, who died in 1745, haunts the Sanquhar churchyard despite an exorcism by a minister.

Crichton was a wealthy landowner, and laird of Carco, who displeased many locals by declaring bankruptcy despite tales of his hidden wealth. Before he died he gained a curse on his name by trying to have the local, unused, church of Kirkbride pulled down. A fierce storm prevented this from happening, and he left that evening to return the next day with his men. On his journey home a bolt of lightening spooked his horse and it bolted. Crichton fell off but caught his foot in the stirrup. Unable to free himself, he was dragged to a painful bloody death as his horse galloped all the way to Dalpeddar.

His body was buried in Sanquhar churchyard but lied uneasily. Locals were often frightened ghostly visions of Crichton as they travelled through the cemetery, and the place was shunned - especially after sun down.

A minister named Hunter performed a long exorcism, holding a nightly vigil in the churchyard armed with a bible and a sword. The exorcism was a success but just to be sure, Crichton's tombstone was secured by heavy chains and weights.

These sort of tales, of evil characters returning from the grave have a similarity with vampire stories, and may be part of the root of the legend. The folklore seems to suggest that there was belief that the persons actual corpse returned to haunt the places, hence the need for mortuary weights. In reality the mortuary weights that are sometimes seen at ancient Scottish churchyards served a much more mundane if not less macabre purpose: to stop freshly interred bodies from being stolen by grave robbers for selling to medical science. Often this sort of grim folklore is reserved for unpopular powerful people.

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