A lonely road runs through a desolate stretch of Scottish moor. This part of the country has a bad reputation for murder and highway robbery; almost everyone who used to live here has fled. There’s only one family left, an old lady and her two sons. When night falls, travelers caught on the moor take shelter at their cottage, because it’s much safer there than to sleep out in the open, all things considered. Right?
The Murder Hole is a gruesome little tale of the “scary stories around the campfire” variety: somewhat predictable, but fun to read or to hear. You can find it various places around the web, usually unattributed and subtitled something like “A Scottish Legend.”
The tale itself may well be a local legend, but this specific version has an author, and she should be credited: Catherine Sinclair (1800-1864), a philanthropist and author of children’s literature. She also wrote a few volumes of legends and folktales, and apparently was the first to identify Sir Walter Scott as the author of the previously anonymous Waverly novels.
“The Murder Hole” first appeared in the February 1829 issue of Blackwood’s Magazine. Sinclair later republished it as part of her 1853 collection London Homes.
I thought it was a delightful piece of mildly gory folklore when I found it; I hope you like it, too.
Part of the Classic Crime series.
Featured image: The Murder by Paul Cezanne (c. 1868). Source: WikiArt
Your Money or Your Life! by Charles-Joseph Traviès de Villers, for Les mystères de Paris, vol. 1 by Eugène Süe, 1843. Source: Old Book Illustrations