The Brahan Seer
Throughout time, there have been men who claimed to see into the future. The Medieval world had Nostradamus. The Modern world had Edgar Cayce, and Early Modern Scotland had Kenneth Mackenzie otherwise known as the Brahan Seer.
He was born on the Isle of Lewis at the beginning of the seventeenth century. His claim to fame was the gift of Second Sight. He was given this gift by a touchstone given to him by his mother. She was supposed to have obtained it from the spirit of a Viking princess.
According to the reports of his prophecies, they dealt mostly with Scotland. He is said to have seen the coming of mechanization and industrialization. Also, he is said to have seen the coming of the railroad. He called the tracks “black bridleless horses.” In his vision regarding the Highland Clearances he said, “sheep shall eat men.” The English landowners drove the Scots out to make room for sheep.
In one of his more chilling prophecies what he saw concerned the battle at Culloden Moor. “This bleak moor, ere many generations have passed, shall be stained with the best blood in Scotland. Glad I am that I will not see that day.”
The following are credited to him.
1. The joining of the locks in the Great Glen. The construction of the Caledonian Canal in the 19th century seems to have fulfilled this prophecy.
2. Pointing to a field far from the seashore, loch or river, he said that a ship would keep up in a place there one day. The Caledonian Canal did not come near the identify. It was decided he had gotten that one wrong until one day in the 1930’s and an Airship landed on the identify.
3. “One day a black rain will fall on the City of Aberdeen.” There seems to be a disagreement over this one. Some say it has not been fulfilled, and others say it refers to the North Sea Oil Fields and the wealth it has brought to Aberdeen.
4. He foresaw the time of piped gas and water, “the day will come when fire and water shall run in flows by all the streets and lanes of Inverness.” The lines were installed in 1829.
5. He also made predictions about Tomnahurich the fairy hill of Inverness. “One day the Fairy Hill will be under lock and meaningful and the fairies will be secured within.” It was made into a cemetery in 1860.
His most famous prediction is also the one that cost him his life.
The wife of the Earl of Seaforth was Isabella. She was worried because her husband was overdue home from a trip to France. She went to the Brahan Seer with her worries.
He told her that her husband was fine. When she pressed him for details he took too much pleasure in telling her that her husband was with a woman of little virtue. (He was later proved correct.) This made her angry. She accused him of lying to ruin the Earl’s reputation, and sentenced the seer to be burned.
As the time drew near for his death, he made one last prediction. He foretold of the downfall of the Seaforth clan. The predictions were: a chief born deaf, death, destruction, loss of character, and a woman in white who would come from the East and kill her sister.
When Isabella heard these prophecies she became already angrier. To shut him up she ordered him gaged and stuffed head first into a barrel of flaming tar.
It is reported that one by one the prophecies came true until nothing remained of the Seaforth Clan.
Today there is a stone marker said to be the place of the seer’s death.
What became of his seer’s stone? It is said that just before he was put to death he threw the stone into a pool saying, “those who brought the crime upon me will never possess the stone nor ever know its secret.” Where the stone landed, lock Ussie is said to have burst forth.
There is just one small problem with this whole story. There is no proof any of it happened. During this time period diarist were everywhere. If you knew the basics of reading and writing you kept a diary. There is no mention of the Seer or his death in the Parish records or any of the diaries of the time.
So if you are going to be a prophet be sure to have a biographer handy.