Caught and Punished

The Horrors Discovered.
On arrival at the scene the hounds were let loose and immediately started off on the track of the fiends. When they reached the cave where the Beans lived they found it descended so deep into the hillside that they had to call for torches to be lit. When they reached the bed of the cave they witnessed a scene of such horror and revulsion that they could scarce believe their eyes. The Beans, now forty-eight strong, stood against the cave wall, facing them in defiance. Human body parts hung from the cave, arranged like some grisly butchers shop display. There was a stench so reviling that many of the soldiers were overcome with nausea. At the back of the cave they found a mass of valuables. Bones and clothes from many of the victims bore testimony to the years of horror. There was abundant evidence that the Bean family had perpetrated some of the most ghastly crimes ever committed against humanity.

The Demise of the Bean Family.
The ghoulish ensemble was escorted to the tollbooth in Edinburgh where they spent the night. It was accepted that the evidence found in the cave was so overwhelming that no trial was necessary and the following day they were taken to Leith for execution. The women and children were forced to watch as the men folk were dismembered and left to bleed to death, after which they themselves were burned in three pyres. Each accepted their gruesome fate showing no sign of repentance – after all, apart from Sawney and his wife, none of them had done any wrong: They had each lived what was, to them at least, a natural and normal life.

Fact or Fiction?
The above account is a record of the legend of Sawney Bean (Davie and Maggie were introduced to add dramatic portrayal, but in all other respects the ambush is described according to known facts and folklore). We will probably never know for sure how much of the story is accurate and how much is mythical embellishment. There are no accurate records of the capture or execution of the family, but of their existence there is little doubt.

© J.M. Eardley 2021.