When I posted about the Girvan sea monster yesterday I mentioned Sawney Bean and I thought I would dig up an old article about this mythical serial killer and his like-minded family.
The tale of Sawney Bean is a little out of the time frame of my usual Australian newspaper publications as the generally noted time that he and his family terrorized the Scottish countryside was sometime in the 15th or 16th century. Perhaps earlier, nobody really knows.
Such a great/horrible story (depending on your point of view) is still going to be repeated throughout time so it was no effort to find an article about it. This short and concise one from 1889 neglects to mention one of the things that makes the story so memorable, the Bean family didn’t just kill and rob the waylaid travellers, they ate them too.
Robbery, murder, cannibalization and incest. This story had it all. They only thing it doesn’t have is hard fact. The story has been around since at least the 1800’s, probably earlier, but apart from the stories around the cave at Bennane Head, which was said to be the lair of this terrible family, there is no real evidence.
It is suggested that the story was an English fabrication, an attempt to stir up anti-Scottish feeling. The more likely explanation was that it was an old story with a kernel of fact, over time becoming embroidered with far more terrible deeds.
People love to be scared by a monster/horror story, and what better monster than dozens of bloodthirsty cannibals living in a hidden cave, waiting for the next innocent passer-by? The popularity of a tale like that of the Bean family would certainly have helped along the sale of chapbooks to the masses, perhaps the entire thing was an invention of the Rupert Murdoch of the day. I wonder if any of the gossip broadsheets were called News of the World?
Every time I read about Sawney Bean I hear the voice of Billy Connolly saying ‘…and ‘et ’em! Proper bad guy!’. I had to put some of his DVD’s on, purely for research purposes you understand, so thanks to this post I spent a whole day laughing at The Big Yin and trying unsuccessfully to find that tiny little snippet of footage. I will forego the housework and continue to search for it once I have posted this. Oh, the sacrifices we make……
I hear that Billy is set to play a dwarf in The Hobbit. I am dying to see that! One of my favourite movie roles of the many Billy has played (apart from the hilarious death scene when he was Billy Bones in Muppet Treasure Island) was when he played Steve Myers in the Australian movie, The Man Who Sued God.
(The very funny ‘what the hell are bone nibblers!’ scene; http://youtu.be/m1bsp9AID6I )