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Manse Mystery

In Sutherland a story is told of a manse that was haunted by a particularly ominous spirit. According to the legend, the spirit first manifested itself many years ago when the minister in Durness became aware of the sound of knocking at his front door. The knocking became a regular occurrence. As the minister never heard anyone approaching the door, he was suspicious and did not answer the knocks. After several repetitions of this strange phenomenon, the minister invited a colleague, the minister from Kinlochbervie, to call on him one night. He did not give the reason for his invitation.

The minister of Kinlochbervie duly made the journey to Durness and settled down for a pleasant evening. After some time had passed, the men heard a knocking at the front door. The Durness minister asked his friend if he would answer it, and his friend obliged, having no idea that the knocking meant anything sinister.

The Kinlochbervie minister cheerfully went and opened the door, only to be faced with the fearful apparition of an old man wrapped in a shroud. Terrified, he saddled his horse at once and rode back to Kinlochbervie with all possible speed. He had not escaped the clutches of the terrible death spirit, however. It is said that barely a month later, although he was a man of robust health and only in his mid-forties, the Kinlochbervie minister died suddenly and mysteriously.

The tragedy became a double one when his wife followed him to the grave very shortly afterwards. It seems unfair that the minister from Durness should survive unscathed after such cowardly behavior on his own part, but it would appear that the deathly figure that came to his door had no sense of justice. It seemed, rather, to want to take whomever it could.

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