Sir Michael Scot and the Buckie

Sheila Kinninmouth, from her book Fife Folktales.

Sheila says: “My original source for these stories is The Folklore Society, Examples of Folklore Concerning Fife, by Ewart Simpkins John, printed in 1912.”

One day while hunting Sir Michael Scot felt hungry and spying a house nearby sent a servant to ask for bread or a bannock. The gudewife replied she had none in the house but the blazing fire, smoking girdle and particular smell of burnt meal so obvious to the senses of every Scotsman, assured him that she had lied. He returned to his master and reported what had happened. Sir Michael, taking his devil’s Buckie from his pocket gave it to his servant and told him to return to the farm house and put it above the lintel of the door without being seen. No sooner had he done this than the charm began to work. The old woman was seized with an unstoppable fit of dancing. She whirled and birled around the chimney chanting at the same time at the top of her lungs

“Sir Michael Scot’s man
Came seekin’, bread and gat nane.”

In the meantime the farmer began to wonder why his wife had failed to send the shearer’s dinner to the fields and so sent a young serving lassie to find out why. The girl had no sooner crossed the threshold than she too was seized by the same urge and began to caper round the chimney with the same vigour as her mistress. Because the lassie didn’t come back the farmer decided to go himself and find out what was happening. Before going in though he had a look through the window and saw his wife and the servant dancing like five year olds. Determined to punish them for such unseemly behaviour he strode in but again, no sooner had he passed under the Buckie than he too whisked off and joined the ladies. The dance had now become an uproarious threesome reel made even more so by the chanting of the auld woman.

Later in the day Sir Michael sent his servant back to the house to retrieve the charm from above the door. This done the three dancers dropped from sheer exhaustion where they fell fast asleep. From then on they vowed never to cross Sir Michael again.