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We want to thank www.cuttysark.org.uk and The Cutty Sark Trust for allowing us to use the information from their website.

There is an old Scottish legend that was later turned into a poem by a very famous Scottish poet called Robert Burns. This story is about a farmer called Tam o'Shanter.

It was very late on a dark and stormy night when Tam, who had been to Market to sell his wares and had called at the local inn afterwards for a few drinks, began his journey home. Tam was riding his old mare Maggie down a lonely road, when he drew close to the Church at Alloway.

Through the cold night air he heard a strange and scary sound, and as he looked into the night sky he saw the glare of fire!

There, in the Churchyard, dancing around a huge bonfire was a coven of witches and warlocks. Tam sat on his horse, rigid with terror! The witches danced on and Tam noticed that one of the hags was younger and prettier that the others. Her name was Nannie, but Tam didn't know this, and as all she was wearing was a short petticoat, he called her 'cutty sark', which is the Scottish name for this garment.

Well, the dancing became wilder and wilder and Tam became more and more engrossed. At last, he could bear the suspense no longer and he shouted out

"Weel done 'cutty sark'"

With a flash the bonfire went out, and a soul-tearing howl went up from the witches and warlocks, as they began to race towards Tam, desperate to get to this mortal who had ruined their Black Magic Dances.

Poor Tam. He was in fear of his life, and for a moment just sat there, but after a few seconds that seemed like lifetimes, he managed to spur Maggie on, in a desperate race to save his life.

Now, as we all know, witches cannot cross running water, and fortunately for Tam, the river Doon was nearby. He set Maggie galloping madly towards the bridge, with the witches in hot pursuit.

Nannie, being younger and faster than the rest, was the closest to him, and was reaching out to grab Maggie's tail, just as the mare reached the bridge. Luckily for Tam (although not so for Maggie), the horse's tail came away in Nannie's hand just as the mare galloped over the bridge.

Tam was saved! The witches and warlocks stood on the river-bank cursing and screaming at Tam who had had a very narrow escape!


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