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The Black Dog o' Quholmsley

Stromness ParishThe district of Quholm, or Quholmsley, in the parish of Stromness, had, at one time, an uncanny reputation. A large dog was said to have come from under the bridge, across the road leading to Sandwick and Birsay, and follow travellers a considerable distance, and then suddenly disappear.

It was never seen in the daytime, but only after dark.

Dr Garson, a medical practitioner resident in Stromness, is said to have been very reluctant to pass that way during the night without a companion, as besides the dog, dangerous tramps were said to loiter in the vicinity.

A young man from Yesnaby, going to see his sweetheart one evening, while crossing a meadow near Quholm, saw a dog a short distance away, and always expected to see his master, but nobody appeared.

The dog became transformed into a very large object, and kept some distance in front of him until he reached his destination. This man did not venture to return till daylight, and was so terrified that he remained in bed three days after he got home.

The young woman he went to see died shortly afterwards.

Before present Quholmsley bridge was erected, there was a much smaller one, which, in a heavy rain, was not sufficient to let the water flow under it. A man and his wife, coming homeward with horse and cart, were swept over when the burn was in flood during a thaw. The woman and horse were saved, but the man was drowned.

On another occasion, someone overtook a woman going on foot and was to give her a lift in his cart. Just when she got in, the horse took fright, and the man was thrown on the road and was killed.

A countryman left Stromness on foot and was found next morning lying on the road, quite dead, near Quholm bridge. These events happened all near the same place and within a very short time of each other.

A boy sent to look for a horse, in Quholm, which had gone astray, and ultimately lost his way in the mist. Wandering, he knew not where, he came to a house with the door wide open. Going inside, he saw the room full of people, among whom he recognised his grandmother, long previously dead.

He heard somebody say: “Blaw in his een," upon which his grandmother asked, “What for?”

“To make him blind,” was the reply.

Retorting, “Let the boy alane,” she beckoned him outside and soon after he managed to reach home. He thought he had only been an hour or two away, but his people told him he had been missing for months and given up for lost.

Old Lore Miscellany Vol VII Part III

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