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Clootie Well clean-up on Black Isle: 'What’s done is done – it’s an opportunity to move forward and hopefully educate folk'


By Ian Duncan

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Clootie Well in Munlochy as many remember it.
Clootie Well in Munlochy as many remember it.

A MYSTERY clean-up of a famous Black Isle woodland site reputed to have healing powers has sparked a massive debate.

A storm of protest on social media greeted news that ‘cloots’ had been removed from The Clootie Well in Munlochy with some warning a curse would be invoked and others decrying desecration of local heritage. Believers thought that as the cloth faded, so would the illness suffered by a loved one.

Others say the site has become an eyesore with non-biodegradable items – including shoes, face masks, plastic bags and even false limbs – going against ancient tradition.

Our readers' poll result: Should it have been cleaned up?

Black Isle councillor Gordon Adam said: “Clearing up Clootie Well in this way was unfortunate. It may have been well intentioned, but the right way to go about it is to involve the local community which has done partial – and more sensitive – clear-ups in the past.

Cllr Gordon Adam: 'The Clootie Well represents an ancient tradition and it’s deeply significant in the folklore of the Black Isle.'
Cllr Gordon Adam: 'The Clootie Well represents an ancient tradition and it’s deeply significant in the folklore of the Black Isle.'

"There has been a local group formed to do just this, and they – along with the Knockbain Community Council – should be the ones who take care of the site in the future. The Clootie Well represents an ancient tradition and it’s deeply significant in the folklore of the Black Isle.”

John Stott, the chairman of Knockbain Community Council, said the clear up had been a complete surprise. He said: “But what’s done is done – it’s an opportunity to move forward and hopefully educate folk.”

He said there had been a lot of inappropriate items left there such as tartan scarves, umbrellas and football tops. He said: “They are not bipodegradable. We need to educate them about the folklore.

Kate Forbes MSP: 'Over the last wee while it had been mentioned that there would be something of a clean up to keep the forest tidy, but I don’t think anyone foresaw something quite so drastic.'
Kate Forbes MSP: 'Over the last wee while it had been mentioned that there would be something of a clean up to keep the forest tidy, but I don’t think anyone foresaw something quite so drastic.'

Black Isle MSP Kate Forbes said: “Clootie Well is an iconic attraction and a place that is very close to the hearts of many on the Black Isle. Over the last wee while it had been mentioned that there would be something of a clean up to keep the forest tidy, but I don’t think anyone foresaw something quite so drastic.”

Forestry and Land Scotland, which knew nothing of the clean up, acknowledged ancient tradition of hanging cloots.

The Clootie Well has become a visitor attraction.
The Clootie Well has become a visitor attraction.

Read the online debate and see our poll at www.ross-shirejournal.co.uk and check out our Facebook page


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