Godfrey Wedderburn was a Knight Templar. He, and his "lady friend", are said to haunt Corbie Linn and other beauty spots in the Maryculter area. According to legend, Godfrey met his lady, a Saracen, on one of the Crusades. She had saved his life when he was badly wounded in battle. By helping the enemy, she was rejected by her people. What could Godfrey do- but bring her back to Scotland? Of course, bringing her back to the ultimate bachelor pad, the Preceptory at Maryculter, caused a bit of a stir. Godfrey tried to explain the situation to the Preceptor, that he and she were purely platonic friends, but to no avail. Godfrey was condemned and his fate was to die by his own hand. Well, in days of old Knight had to do that sort of thing- it went with the job.
When the time came, with Godfrey still protesting his innocence , he plunged a dagger through his own heart. HIs lady friend, before exacting the same fate on herself, called up a terrible curse to befall the Preceptor of the chapel. As her words rang out, out over the rippling waters of the Dee, a convenient thunderbolt struck the Preceptor and he was gone in a puff of smoke!
Should you visit the now ruined chapel, look out for the "Thunder Hole" - a deep depression in the ground where the fatal strike took place so many years ago . But be sure to keep your wits about you, for every year on the anniversary of that night - the Knight, Godfrey and his lady will appear and walk through the grounds...
FROM "THE ANNALS OF DEESIDE"
Godfrey Wedderburn was a native of the parish of Maryculter, his father having settled there after holding high office in the household of the Pope. The Templars were frequent visitors at Wedderburn's house, and there, from his earliest years, the young man's soul had been thrilled by tales of the dangers faced, and the matchless valour displayed by the soldiers of the Temple in the Holy Land.
Most or all of the narrators had taken part in, or been eye-witnesses of the events they described, which gave the greater vividness to their narrations, and the more powerfully impressed their youthful hearer. When of age young Wedderburn joined the ranks of the Templars, and, having undergone the necessary probation, went to the Holy Land, where he signalized himself in many a bloody engagement, receiving promotion and other marks of distinction for his bravery. As his successes accumulated, his thirst for glory proportionally increased. Almost despising the honours won in the ordinary course of battle, however fierce, he began to seek opportunities for the display of his valour without wisdom or discretion. On a certain day when the Templar army stood awaiting the order to advance and engage the hordes of the opposing Saracens, Wedderburn thought that the time had come for a crowning act of heroism, so without hesitation, and against command, he boldly galloped out against the stalwart commander who was marshalling and exhorting the hot-blooded Saracen bands for the approaching fray. The usky warrior showed no indisposition to accept the combat, but his fiery followers, rushing forth like angry bees, hurled their javelins at the hated heretic, and he fell with many wounds. In an instant the battle was general, and continued with unabated bitterness till darkness put an end to the carnage. When Wedderburn regained consciousness, all was still around, and the fierce glare of the eastern sun had given place to the mellow bright- ness of the moon. With great pain and difficulty he struggled to his feet, and, tottering onward towards some trees he dimly saw in the near distance, he at last reached what proved to be a well of water, around which were evidences that it was frequently visited, and must thus be near to human habitations. The well was deep, however, and the tinkling of the drops that fell from its dripping sides only mocked the cravings of his burning thirst. Exhausted by loss of blood and maddening agony he sank unconscious to the ground, and his fevered dream of trouble was broken only by the faint sensation of cold water touching his burning lips, and a gentle hand supporting his aching head. He awakened to behold the dark but tender eyes of a Saracen damsel gazing into his face with affectionate wist- fulness to catch the first signs of returning consciousness. She was a true daughter of the east, and lovely as a poet's dream of beauty. With all her loveliness she had that which only high birth for generations can give, and which unmistakeably declares the noble origin of its possessor. She was in fact none other than the daughter of the very chief whose blood the Templar had sought to spill as a proof of his martial prowess. Why she shewed this tender solicitude for one whose creed and name were accursed among the people of her country we are not informed—such questions find no place in legends. She could not take him to her home, or inform her people of his whereabouts, for his instant slaughter would have seemed to them a sacred duty ; so she bore him to a cave in a rock at hand, and there laid him, tending his wounds and supplying his wants. To allay his fears and comfort him in his lonely helpless condition and situation, she took from her breast and presented to him a simple ring of gold, having one small stone of great brightness set in it, which she declared to be a charm that would protect him from all the dangers of war and disease, but could be worn only by those of spotless purity and unsullied honour. For months the fair and faithful preserver of his life tended him with unceasing devotion, soothing his wounds by the simple but effective remedies known among her people, and cheering his lonely hours of enforced seclusion by many a magic tale of love and war, for he understood and could speak the language of her country, and no doubt told her much of the story of his life, both in the quiet parish far away in the land of clouds and cold, and in the ranks of the defenders of the Catholic faith. She loved him with a consuming love. He loved her with a deep and grateful love, but regard to the vows of his order compelled him to give no evidence of it either by word or sign. Some months after the battle in which he had been so severely wounded, and when he had almost regained the vigour of health, a great company of Templars journeying to Europe passed that way, and he seized the opportunity of quitting his strange and dangerous hiding-place, and joining the band without the knowledge of the noble Saracen who had almost risked her own life in order to preserve his. He returned to Maryculter, and stayed there for a year or two in quietude, for the Saracens were peaceful. But one Sabbath morning, as the Templars and their dependants were passing into church for early mass, their attention was attracted by the closely veiled figure of a tall and graceful woman, whose garments, however, showed signs of long and dusty travel. Silent she stood, with head posed in the attitude of pensive sadness, yet through her veil her eager eyes flashed as she scanned closely the features of every passer by. Almost all had passed in, when Godfrey Wedderburn walked slowly up to the door of the little chapel. On his approach, the hitherto almost motionless woman at first tottered as if about to fall, then, wildly passing her hands to her head, she tore aside her veil and exposed the still surpassingly lovely, though slightly saddened face of Godfrey's erstwhile ministering angel. With a scream she threw her arms around his neck and clung to him as the tiger clings to his prey. The general body of the worshippers were amazed beyond expression, for they reckoned that, however lovely she might be, the colour of her face declared the nature of her mission and her master. Godfrey's fellow Templars cast pitying looks on him, for the woman's dark-complexioned face, except for its beauty, was nothing wonderful to them ; rather in it they saw at once the explanation of the mystery, and read the old and sometimes fatal truth, that love is stronger than death. The Grand Master sternly commanded that the woman be removed, and that Wedderburn wait upon him when service ended. The poor girl, sobbing and struggling hysterically, was taken to a neighbouring house and tenderly cared for. Wedderburn appearing before the Grand Master frankly detailed the whole of the events which had led up to the affecting occurrence. But his story, although received as correct in the main, was nevertheless disbelieved, in so far as it maintained his honour and his faithfulness to his vows. The Templar's blood warmed as the Master persisted in assuming that he had not acted with the honour that became a soldier of the Temple, until, in the heat of un- governable rage, he sprang at the Master and struck him to the ground. Such an insult offered to one of that rank, and such a breach of the strict rule of Templar obedience could be adequately punished only by the death of the offender, and so Godfrey Wedderburn was sentenced to be led forth at midnight beyond the buildings, and there pay the penalty of his unbridled anger ; but, in consideration of his great services, and conspicuous courage on many fields, he was to be saved the in- dignity of dying by another's hand, and to be per- mitted to plunge the dagger into his own breast. The Templars pleaded with the Master to reduce the severity of his sentence, but he was inflexible. When the appointed hour arrived, Wedderburn went forth to the place of death, accompanied by the Grand Master and the sorrow-stricken Templars, whose flickering torches, dimly shining, showed his sad but fearless face. Summoned to halt at the spot where disobedient and unworthy members of the order were wont to suffer for disgrace, he bared his breast in the light cast from the torches, held by the trembling hands of his mourning companions, standing with their faces covered in their cloaks, and, anew declaring his innocence, and asking as one last favour that his body might be buried in some lonely spot, where his spirit might hear the gurgle of the stream, and thus be re- minded of the signal deliverance at the spring in the burning plains of Palestine, he drove the dagger to the hilt into the heart that had never feared aught but dishonour. As he fell to the ground the woods and valleys resounded with a scream that struck terror into the hearts of strong men, and into the presence of the strange assembly sprang the Saracen maiden, with hair dishevelled, and eyes glistening with the wild glare of delirium. Rushing to the place where her warrior lover lay, she snatched from his bloodstained breast the charm she had given him, and, casting it around her neck, summoned God and heaven to witness that she, and he whose lifeless body lay on the dewy grass, were pure as the stars that studded that midnight sky. Then grief loosened her tongue in swift and tragic eloquence, and some who understood it trembled, and some regarded it as but the raving of a mind unhinged. Again, tearing the ring from off her heaving breast she dared the Master to put it on, and see whether there were truth in her words, and justice in heaven for the wronged. Prompted possibly by contempt for the superstitious warning of the infidel Saracen, he defiantly threw the charm round his neck, and stood forth into full view of the astounded Templars, that they might see how false had been the words, and how vain the threats, of this daughter of the desert. He had but opened his lips, perhaps to rail or sneer, when a blinding light flashed from heaven, and a blue bolt of fire struck deep down into the earth where the Master stood, and he was seen no more. Does not the " Thunder Hole " to this day witness to the truth of this story ? The Saracen shouted a mad shout of joy, plucked the dagger from Godfrey's gory breast, and buried it deep in her own bosom. The Templars fled in consternation, and refused to visit the spot until the dawn of day should make it safe to approach a place so manifestly haunted by the spirits of the unseen. They found the two corpses of the lovers lying almost side by side, and near to them the ring by which the stain had been wiped from two pure youthful lives, and the swift and terrible vengeance of heaven brought on the perpetrator of injustice. The Templars, fearing to keep the charm, cast it out into the fields, where yet, at midnight, once a year, on the date of the woeful tragedy, it shines with a pale blue light, and he who finds may wear it, and live scatheless from all disease, but let him be mindful that it brings not a blessing, but a curse to the breast that is not warmed by a pure and noble heart. Godfrey Wedderburn's stiffened body was placed in the chapel to await interment, and those keeping vigil saw an angel like to the form of the beautiful Saracen hover over it, and kiss its pale and bloodless lips, and they thought that for a moment a wave of joyous expression passed over the cold and motionless features of the dead. Regard was had to his dying request, and they laid him in a quiet nook near to the Corbie Linn. In the same grave they placed the body of her whom love had brought from the distant deserts of her beloved country, that together they might listen to the murmur of the stream, till awakened by the rushing sound of angels' wings. Not so long ago men used to tell with bated breath of having seen, at dead of night, a fully armed soldier gallop along the glen and over the hill of Kingcausie, as they echoed to the thunder of his war-cry. Sometimes also near the Corbie Linn a dark complexioned woman of wondrous beauty has been seen sitting sadly on the rocks, or gliding through the adjacent woods, singing the while in a low entrancing voice a song of tearful sadness. Watchers by the bed of the sick have often seen the same dark and beautiful figure, with tear-dimmed eyes and blood-stained robe, enter the room and beckon to the sick one, and they have thereby known that the last farewell must soon be spoken, and the loved voice heard no more forever, in this world.