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River Isla

According to local legend a man named William
Soutar was the farmer at Middle Mause, Blairgowrie. Some time in mid December 1728 he and his servants were working in the fields when they heard the yelping and barking of a dog which appeared to be in distress. At nightfall they saw a large, dark grey coloured dog, but due to falling darkness it could not further be identified.
Soutar continued to see the dog on subsequent nights
during the winter and it seemed to come nearer to him
each time. One night, when he was going home over the
bridge across the Lornty burn which runs into the River Isla, the dog appeared again. But this time, in addition to the bark, Soutar heard the words, ‘Within eight days, do or die.

William Soutar was very upset and he told his brother about the meeting with the dog at the bridge. The next night his brother James accompanied him to the same spot and in due course the dog came forward, whining, and stopped about ten yards from the two men. It is said that the dog then directed the two men to a nearby spot where a man and his dog had been murdered and buried. The local minister and the lairds who owned the ground were informed by the brothers and a search was made. The bones were found and given a Christian burial in the old churchyard at the Hill o’Blair.

One other recorded version of this tale is that the Laird of Rochalle had a quarrel with the local minister over the refusal to baptize a child born to one of the Laird’s servants. William Soutar was the chief elder of the kirk and the Laird believed that he was responsible for the action of the minister. The Laird then arranged that his butler be dressed up in sheep skins and appear to William Soutar near the bridge over the Lornty. The trick worked so well that the Laird arranged for an old human skull and other animal bones to be placed in a hiding place as described by the alleged phantom dog. If the phantom dog of Mause was a hoax it would account for the fact that there is no evidence of the dog having been seen or heard since the time of the Soutar brothers.

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