where the devil lost a soul

This is a story of the devil hunting a soul and losing it to the sacred ground of Birnie Kirkyard.

This is an ancient place, the church itself is one of the oldest in Scotland. Christians have worshipped here since the 12th century and the Celts centuries earlier. Birnie was the cathedral to the Bishop of Moray, a diocese that was one of the most important in Catholic Scotland, founded by King David I. The bishopric ended with the Reformation.

But back to the devil and the tale of Sir Robert Gordon, also known as the Wizard of Gordonstoun who died here in 1704, allegedly in this very graveyard. The devil was after him and in a wild chase, Goron jumped over the wall to rescue himself in reaching holy ground, unavailable for the devil coming after him. His soul was rescued but his life was not. Sir Robert Gordon broke his neck falling over the kirkyard wall.

The alleged wizard was the 3rd Earl of Gordon and a highly educated man, which was rather suspicious at the time. Gordon was a scientist rather than a spiritualist. He had studied in Italy and probably felt alien to the people of Moray, who in turn accused him of conversing with the devil, dancing with naked women and (worst of all) possessing no shadow. A sure sign of being a wizard at the time.

During his lifetime, he was safe from prosecution, after all, he was the earl and he was not only influential but rich. Many a woman was not so lucky in the days of the witch hunts.

Very likely, he was not much more than a nerdy and slightly strange scientist, but for the people of Moray, Sir Robert Gordon was a wizard. He died here, in Birnie kirkyard, in 1704. Where the devil lost a soul.

sources and further reading:

Aberdeen Voice

Undiscovered Scotland

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