Devil’s clawmarks, Sanday

The so called Devil's Clawmarks, Ladykirk, Sanday.
The so called Devil's Clawmarks, Ladykirk, Sanday.

In the island of Sanday, there is a village and a parish both called Lady, after the old Ladykirk there. The church is now a roofless ruin, but you can still climb up the stone stairs that once led from the outside to the upper level. On the balustrade as your reach the top, there is a most curious sight to be seen: A stone with deep marks, as if scratched by some very strong claws! These are known as the Devil’s clawmarks, and the story goes as follows:

There was once upon a time a minister preaching in the Ladykirk. Every Sunday he preached against sin, especially adultery. And every Monday to Saturday, he himself enjoyed precisely those activities he preached against. One night, as the minister was coming out of his mistress’s house and heading for home, the Devil himself stood there before him, and tried to grab him to take him to Hell. But the minister was too quick for him: He ran for his life until he reached the sanctuary of the church, and shut the door on the Devil, who was left raging outside and clawing at the stonework. And there you can see the marks of his six sharp claws to this very day.

(Story retold from: Tom Muir, Orkney Folk Tales.)

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