Superstitions

There were, and still are, superstitions about people’s names and animals; a pig was never called by name. They were called “sanny camels” because of their habit of snuffling in the sand. Rabbits were called “four feeters” or “ground officers” and the salmon was named “caul iron” (which is the same as saying “touch wood” to ward off evil).

The superstitions probably came from the Beltane beliefs of hundreds of years ago. There is still a Beltane festival here. People go to the “cloutie well”, make a wish and take a drink of the water, which is very pure. “Water is brought back to the village in bottles for the aged and infirm”, although according to one cleric of 1836 “the most efficacious part of this ritual was probably the walk”. This would be vehemently denied by some. The authentic “cloutie well” (Craigahowe or Craiguck - old Scots) is not the one on the road to Dingwall (between Munlochy and Tore) but is situated on the other side of Ladyhill (Ormonde Hill) and issues from a rock in the shore of Bennetsfield. Rags are left tied to the bushes near the well.

Weddings carried their own superstitions and traditions in Avoch. “When the bridegroom’s party arrives at the church door, the best man unties the shoe upon the left foot of the bridegroom, and forms a cross with a nail or a knife upon the right side post of the door. The shoe of course remains untied until next morning.” (Statistical Account,  Parish of Avoch, The Rev James Gibson, MInister, 1836).