It is funny how these things come about…

By Dr Bruce Durie

Dr Bruce Durie was researching some work for the National Trust of Scotland on their properties, and was looking through a well-meaning but necessarily piece-meal book called The Castles and Keeps of Scotland, put together by Frank Roy Fraprie of Boston after three trips to Scotland in the early 1900s. It threw up a tantalising tit-bit:

The lairds of Edzell were sheriffs in their own domain, and had the power of pit and gallows. Consequently they possessed a hereditary doomster, the head of the family of Durie, who held Duriehill on this tenure.

Besides the estate, the executioner was vested with the privilege "of fishing in the almost waterless burn of Wishop, and of hunting on the hill of Wirren with a hawk blind of an eye and a hound crippled of a leg !"

Besides, he received four pennies Scots for ringing the bell of St. Lawrence at the birth or funeral of a lord or lady of Edzell.

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