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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Dare you read the curse?

The debate about Carlisle's cursing stone has attracted global interest.

City councillors this week decisively rejected a proposal to destroy or remove the granite boulder, inscribed with a 16th century curse against the Border Reivers.

But some still blame the sculpture for the city's floods, foot and mouth and even Carlisle United's relegation.

Here is the curse in full:

‘Gude folks, heir at my Archibischop of Glasgwis letters under his round sele direct to me or any uther chapellane, makand mensioun, with greit regrait, how hevy he beris the pietous, lamentabill, and dolorous complaint that pass our all realme and commis to his eris, be oppin voce and fame, how our souverane lordis trew liegis, men, wiffis and barnys [children], bocht and redemit be the precious blude of our Salviour Jhesu Crist, and levand in his lawis, are saikleslie [innocently] part murdrist, part slayne, brynt, heryit, spulzeit [spoiled] and reft, oppinly on day licht and under silens of the nicht, and thair takis [farms] and landis laid waist, and thair self banyst therfra, als wele kirklandis as utheris, be commoun tratouris, revaris, theiffis, duelland in the south part of this realme, sic as Tevidale, Esdale, Liddisdale, Ewisdale, Nedisdale [Nithsdale], and Annanderdaill; quhilkis hes bene diverse ways persewit and punist be the temperale swerd and our Soverane Lordis auctorite, and dredis nocht the samyn.

And thairfoir my said Lord Archbischop of Glasgw hes thocht expedient to strike thame with the terribill swerd of halykirk, quhilk thai may nocht lang endur and resist; and has chargeit me, or any uther chapellane, to denounce, declair and proclame thaim oppinly and generalie cursit, at this market-croce, and all utheris public places.

Hairfor throw the auctorite of Almichty God, the Fader of hevin, his Son, our Saviour, Jhesu Crist, and of the Halygaist; throw the auctorite of the Blissit Virgin Sanct Mary, Sanct Michael, Sanct Gabriell, and all the angellis; Sanct John the Baptist, and all the haly patriarkis and prophets; Sanct Peter, Sanct Paull, Sanct Andro, and all haly appostillis; Sanct Stephin, Sanct Laurence, and all haly mertheris [martyrs]; Sanct Gile, Sanct Martyn, and all haly confessouris; Sanct Anne, Sanct Katherin, and all haly virginis and matronis; and of all the sanctis and haly company of hevin; be the auctorite of our HaIy Fader the Paip and his cardinalis, and of my said Lord Archibischop of Glasgw, be the avise and assistance of my lordis, archibischop, bischopis, abbotis, priouris, and utheris prelatis and ministeris of halykirk.

I denounce, proclamis, and declaris all and sindry the committaris of the said saikles murthris, slauchteris, brinying, heirchippes, reiffis, thiftis and spulezeis, oppinly apon day licht and under silence of nicht, alswele within temporale landis as kirklandis; togither with thair part takaris [partakers] assistaris, supplearis, wittandlie resettaris [knowing receivers] of thair personis, the gudes reft and stollen be thaim, art or part thereof, and their counsalouris and defendouris, of thair evil dedis generalie CURSIT, waryit [execrated], aggregeite, and reaggregeite, with the GREIT CURSING.

I curse their heid and all the haris of thair heid; I curse thair face, thair ene, thair mouth, thair neise, thairg toung, thair teith, thair crag, thair schulderis, thair breist, thair hert, thair stomok, thair bak, thair wame [buttocks], their armes, thair leggis, thair handis, thair feit, and everilk part of thair body, frae the top of their heid to the soill of thair feit, befoir and behind, within and without.

I curse thaim gangand [going] and I curse thaim rydand [riding]; I curse thaim standand, and I curse thaim sittand; I curse thaim etand [eating], I curse thaim drinkand; I curse thaim walkand, I curse thaim sIeepand ; I curse thaim rysand, I curse thaim lyand; I curse thaim at hame, I curse thaim fra hame; I curse thaim within the house, I curse thaim without the house; I curse thair wiffis, thair barnis, and thair servandis participand with thaim in their deides. I wary thair cornys, thair catales, thair woll, thair scheip, thair horse, thair swyne, thair geise [geese], thair hennys, and all thair quyk gude [livestock]. I wary their hallis, thair chalmeris [rooms], thair kechingis, thair stanillis, thair barnys, thair biris [cowsheds], thair bernyardis, thair cailyardis [cabbage-patches], thair plewis, thair harrowis, and the gudis and housis that is necessair for thair sustentatioun and weilfair.

All the malesouns and waresouns [curses] that ever gat warldlie creatur sen the begynnyng of the warlde to this hour mot licht [must alight] apon thaim. The maledictioun of God, that lichtit apon Lucifer and all his fallowis, that strak thaim frae the hie hevin to the deip hell, mot licht apon thaim. The fire and the swerd that stoppit Adam far the yettis [gates] of Paradise, mot stop thaim frae the gloir of Hevin, quhill [until] thai forbere and mak amendis. The malesoun that lichtit on cursit Cayein, quhen he slew his bruther just Abell saiklessy, mot licht on thaim for the saikles slauchter that thai commit dailie. The maledictioun that lichtit apon all the warlde, man and beist, and all that ever tuk life, quhen all was drownit be the flude of Noye, except Noye and his ark, mot licht apon thame and droune thame, man and beist, and mak this realm cummirless [free] of thame for thair wicket synnys. The thunnour and fireflauchtis [lightning] that set doun as rane apon the cities of Zodoma and Gomora, with all the land is about, and brynt thame for thair vile sunnys, mot rane apon thame, and birne thaim for oppin synnis. The malesoun and confusion that lichtit on the Gigantis for thair oppressioun and pride, biggand [building] the tour of Babiloun, mot confound thaim and all thair werkis, for thair oppin reiffs and oppressioun. All the plagis that fell apon Pharao and his pepill of Egipt, thair landis, come, and cataill, mot fall apon thaim, thair takkis, rowmys [places] and stedingis, cornys and beistis. The watter of Tweid and utheris watteris quhair thai ride mot droun thaim, as the Reid Sey drownit King Pharao and his pepil pf Egipt, persewing Godis pepill of Israell. The erd [earth] mot oppin, riffe and cleiff [cleave], and swelly [swallow] thaim quyk to hell, as it swellyit cursit Dathan and Abiron, that ganestude [withstood] Moeses and the command of God. The wyld fyre that byrnt Thore and his fallowis to the nowmer of twa hundredth and fyty, and utheris 14,000 and 700 at anys, usurpand aganis Moyses and Aaron, servandis of God, mot suddanely birne and consume thaim dailie ganestandand the comandis of God and halykirk. The malediction that lichtit suddanely upon fair Absolon, rydant contrair his fader, King David, servand of God, throw the wod, quhen the branchis of ane tre fred [parted] him of his horse and hangit him be the hair, mot licht apon thaim, rydand again trew Scottis men, and hang thaim siclike that all the warld may se. The maledicitioun that lichtit apon Olifernus, lieutenant to Nabogodonoser, makand weair [war] and heirchippis [plunder] apon trew cristin [Christian] men, the malediction that lichtit apon Judas, Pylot, Herod and the Jowis that chucifyit [crucified] Our Lord, and all the plagis and trublis that lichtit on the citte of Jherusalem thairfor, and upon Symon Magus for his symony, bludy Nero, cursit Ditius Makcensius, Olibruis, Julianus Apostita and the laiff [rest] of the cruell tirrannis that slew and murthirit Critis haly servandis, mot licht apon thame for thair cruel tiranny and murthirdome of cristin pepill.

And all the vengeance that evir was takin sen the warlde began for oppin synnys, and all the plagis and pestilence that ever fell on man or beist, mot fall on thaim for thair oppin reiff, saiklesse slauchter and schedding of innocent blude. I dissever and pairtis thaim fra the kirk of God, and deliveris thaim quyk to the devill of hell, as the Apostill Sanct Paull deliverit Corinthion. I interdite the places thay cum in fra divine service, ministracioun of the sacramentis of halykirk, except the sacrament of baptissing allanerlie [only] ; and forbiddis all kirkmen to schriffe [shrive] or absolve thaim of theire synnys, quhill they be first absolyeit of this cursing.

I forbid all cristin man or woman till have ony company with thaime, etand, drynkand, spekand, prayand, lyand, gangand, standand, or in any uther deid doand, under the paine of deidly syn. I discharge all bandis, actis, contractis, athis [oaths] and obligatiounis made to thaim by ony persounis, outher of lawte [either of loyalty], kyndenes or manrent [personal fealty], salang as thai susteine this cursing, sua that na man be bundin [bound] to thaim, and that thai be bundin till all men. I tak fra thame and cryis doune all the gude dedis that ever thai did or sall do, quhill thai ryse frae this cursing. I declare thaim partIes [excluded] of all matynys, messis, evinsangis, dirigeis or utheris prayeris, on buke or beid; of all pilgrimagis and almouse dedis done or to be done in halykirk or be cristin pepill, enduring this cursing.

And, finally, I condemn thaim perpetualie to the deip pit of hell, the [there to] remain with Lucifer and all his fallowis, and thair bodeis to the gallowis of the Burrow Mure [town moor], first to be hangit, syne revin and ruggit [then ripped and torn] with doggis, swyne, and utheris wyld beists, abhominable to all the warld. And their candillis gangis frae your sicht, as mot their saulis gang fra the visage of God, and thai rgude faim fra the warld, quhill thai forbeir thair oppin synnys foirsaidis and ryse frae this terribill cursing, and mak satisfaction and pennance.’

(Based on the text of the curse as reproduced in ‘Steel Bonnets’ by George MacDonald Fraser, Pan Books, 1971).

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