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Today’s issue of The Scotsman carries an intriguing tale of the Wizard Laird of Skene, in Aberdeenshire, and his visit from the Devil:

The wizard’s coachman was named Kilgour and was well used to his master’s eccentricities – but nothing could have prepared him for the night the devil came calling.

Kilgour was ordered to prepare the coach and horses at midnight to transport his special guest from Skene House, the family mansion. But the laird made Kilgour promise that on no account was he to turn round and look at the stranger.

As the coach and horses sped through the dark countryside, the laird told Kilgour to take the more direct route across the Loch of Skene. There had only been one night’s frost and the coachman said such a journey would be impossible – but the wizard told him not to worry, the ice was strong enough.

The night would have passed without incident had Kilgour’s curiosity not got the better of him. As they were approaching the other side of the loch he did what his master had told him not to do – he turned round. What he saw terrified him. For there sat the unmistakable horned, cloven-footed figure of the devil himself – Auld Nick.

As soon as Kilgour turned to look the ice cracked, the devil turned into a raven and flew off and the coach and horses sank to the bottom of the loch. Whether the laird and his coachman escaped depends on which variation of the tale you hear.

Much more here.


…here's Stonehenge as seen on Google Maps.

OTTAWA — Canada’s cultural treasures — including religious objects from Quebec and aboriginal artifacts — are “racing out of the country” because government controls are ineffective and Canada’s border agency isn’t interested in enforcing them, Canadian Heritage has been told.

“It should be pointed out that the recent creation of the (Canada Border Services Agency) as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has resulted in a significant reduction in the priority given to issues not related to health, safety and security,” reads an internal evaluation by Canadian Heritage, obtained by the Ottawa Citizen under the Access to Information Act.

“The CBSA has explicitly indicated that … export controls are outdated and it wishes to get out of the business.”

Key informants from government and private cultural institutions, who were interviewed for the evaluation and warned of the lost treasures, indicate significant numbers of cultural exports bypass controls, and that some institutions ignore temporary permits for travelling exhibitions completely.

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