Folklore Friday - The Brahan Seer
Coming from the translation of 'Coinneach Odhar' from Gaelic, the Brahan Seer was a man who could predict the future in the 1700s.
Kenneth MacKenzie was born in Uig (Lewis) and belonged to the MacKenzie Clan. As he grew into adulthood, MacKenzie began to see visions of the future. Using an Adder Stone, a stone with a hole in the middle, to see into the future.
As news of his talents spread throughout the lands, MacKenzie became famous and in high demand. Invited to Seaforth territory, he was asked to work as a labourer at Brahan Castle, near Dingwall. This is where he, sadly, met his downfall.
Although MacKenzie saw the futures of many, he failed to see his own and met with an unfortunate and gruesome death. Although working for the Earl of Seaforth, the Earl's wife became angry when MacKenzie had predicted what her husband was up to while away in Paris. MacKenzie spoke of the Earl's sexual adventures with one or more women during his time in Paris. Unhappy at hearing his visions, Lady Seaforth had MacKenzie burnt to death in a spiked tar barrel. She did not want the scandalous reputation of her husband to cause her embarrassment and was determined to stop at nothing to prevent MacKenzie's visions from becoming public.
Some of MacKenzie's Predictions...
The Caledonian Canal
"One day ships will sail around the back of Tomnahurich Hill"
This prediction is one of MacKenzie's most remarkable. At the time of his preiciton, there was already a passage for shipping, the River Ness, which sat on the opposite South side of Tomnahurich Hill. For MacKenzie to say that the boats would one day pass on the other side of the hill seemed a highly illogical possibility to those hearing it at the time.
The prediction, however, came true. Today the 19th century Caledonian Canal forks off from the River Ness at the Eastern head of Loch Ness. This continues its route through Inverness and heads north-east around the back of Tomnahurich.
"The day will come when the MacKenzies of Fairburn shall lose their entire possessions; their castle will become inhabited and a cow shall give birth to a calf in the uppermost chamber of the tower"
In 1885, the ruined tower was being used by a farmer to store hay in. A pregnant cow, having followed a trail of hay up to the top of the tower, had gotten stuck there, and gave birth in the garret. The cow and calf were taken down five days later, allowing for enough people to see the prophecy for word to spread.
This prophecy is one of four MacKenzie made about Fairburn, three of which have since been fullfilled.
The Deaf Seaforth
"In a few generations, the chieftaincy of the MacKenzies will pass to a man who is both deaf and dumb. All the sons of this chief will predecease him and in doing so the ancient MacKenzie line will be extinguished. After this happens a hooded girl from the East will come and claim the chief's possessions and kill her sister. All will know when this is about to happen as all four of the great highland lairds with have some form of physical defect; one will be buck-toothed, one hare-lipped, one half-witted and one will have a stammer"
This remarkable prediciton came to pass in the late 17th century, when four deformed lairds were the chiefs of the Chisholms, the Grants, the MacLeods if Raasay and the MacKenzies of Gairloch. The deaf mute was Francis, the only surviving male heir of the Seaforths. He caught Scarlet Fever at the age of twelve and as a result lost his hearing and speech. Later, he came to have four legitimate sons, all of whom predeceased him. His eldest daughter, Mary, who was now the heiress of the family, returned from the East Indies to receive her inheritance. She went on to lose control while driving her sister in a pony trap, causing her sister's death.