So I discovered a new TV series on the History Channel today called ‘True Monsters’. It’s basically about how all folklore and legend has an ounce of truth behind it (this of course, all of us here already know). I discovered for the very first time, a folk legend from Scotland regarding a clan of cannibals, living in a cave by the sea. After reading about how very famous this story is, I feel as though it is I, who have been living in a cave, not having heard of it.
In East Lothian, Scotland, in the 16th Century, Sawney Bean (Alexander/Alex/Alec/Lex/Xander or “Big Al” as he was known to his family), according to legend, wasn’t much of a working man. He preferred the easy road and wasn’t even remotely interested in joining his father, who worked as a ditch digger and hedge trimmer. Can’t say I blame the Young Bean. It does sound boring. So he eloped with a woman of much the same mindset and having no money and no inclination to work (sounds like a good portion of “Benefit Street”) they took up residence in a nearby cave by the sea.
Now, making money when you can’t be bothered to get off your arse can be tough going and this was before the days of Wonga (only 1769% APR!), so the Bean couple decided that the best way forward would be to laze around by day and then by night, rob, maim and then murder unsuspecting peoples nearby. Much the same as Wonga do nowadays.
Personally, I’m of a “waste-not-want-not” mind-frame, but the Beans were completely eco-friendly so, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, they decided to eat the remains of their victims, thereby also destroying any evidence of their wrongdoings.
They led a happy life, having fourteen children and thirty-two grandchildren (mostly Jamie-Cersei Lannister style and incestual), who also shared their appetite for human flesh and made a fine living from ambushing unwary locals who dared venture through the woods at night.
The Beans were almost caught when an ambush went awry after they unwittingly picked on a man who was quite spritely and a damned good shot. He got away and alerted the local authorities who promptly arranged a search party to flush out the Scottish cannibals.
After the strange disappearances of many people, a four hundred strong mob set out searching the area, only to discover the cave which they’d never thought to look in before (“that huge two hundred foot deep cave couldn’t POSSIBLY house anything or anyone whatsoever”) and they hauled the entire Bean Clan out on their arses.
Now cannibals are considered the lowest of the low, the worst atrocity known to mankind (personally I think those people who keep spiders as pets are so much worse, but hey, I’m just one person) so it’s only fitting that the punishment for cannibalism is death.
The men of the Bean Clan had all their rude bits chopped off (the thirty-four children produced were thirty-four children too late for this endeavour however), before having their hands and feet chopped off, and Wikipedia will tell you were “allowed” to bleed to death. How good of their persecutors to “allow” them to bleed to death. The women and children were promptly burned to death, including one of the daughters who had left the clan years previously (probably the thought of having to sleep with her brothers or dad AND being on a strict “meat-only” diet put her off the usual village life of living next door to your mum, down the road from your sister and across the street from your aunty). The locals hung her from a nearby tree. I try to stay away from the pikey side of my family too, but it just goes to show, they will always come back and bite you in the arse anyway. Maybe that’s the moral of the story. Do what my sister did and move very very far away.
It’s no surprise that this legend, be it true or not, (that is lost to time) inspired the incredibly famous set of movies ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ – I live in a village and I can tell you, I know more than most how true those films could be.