The Old Village of Lawers,a deserted, ruined lochside village in the centre of Highland Perthshire, is claimed to be haunted by the Old Lady of Lawers, who predicted the coming of the railway and the construction of steam ships and was the last resident of the manor house on the land.
The site is on the market for offers over £100,000 - although it is thought that any purchaser would be unlikely to be granted permission to construct a permanent property on the land after an application three years ago by Walter and Janet Reid to build a one-and-a-half-storey building on the site was turned down after attracting objections from all around the world.
The three-acre site comprises ruins – Scheduled Ancient Monuments – at each end with an ‘in-field’ in between, on which the villagers farmed historically. The ruins of the House of Lawers, at the western end, with its annexed byre and stable is said to stand on the site of an earlier house razed to the ground by the Marquis of Montrose in 1645. Also in the western part is the remains of Lawers Kirk, which dates from 1669.
The house’s last occupant was Lady Lawers, who is remembered for various prophecies, some relating to the church of Lawers and the local community while others refer to social and economic changes and more still predict events in the Breadalbane Campbell family.
Her predictions included ‘fire-coaches’ crossing the Drumochter Pass, which are thought to be the railway. She is supposed to have planted an ash tree at the north end of the church and said that when it grew to the height of the little spire the church would fall. In fact, the church was so much damaged in a thunderstorm in which the ash tree perished that it was never used again.
She also warned that a 'ship driven by smoke will sink in Loch Tay with great loss of life’, long before the construction of steam ships, one of which did sink in the loch.
Jon Lambert, of selling agent John Clegg & Co, said: “An opportunity such as this to acquire part of Scotland’s historical heritage in what many believe to be the most beautiful part of the country arises very rarely. The word ‘unique’ is overused but there can be very few times when it is so appropriate as with this chance to be the owner and custodian of an area so rich in history, romance and tradition.”
The 1841 Census suggests that there may have been 17 people living by the loch in the old village. By 1891 there were only seven people, all of whom lived in the pier master’s house. This house, which is probably not within the area that is being sold, was finally abandoned in 1926.
However, the selling agents said the planning authority – Perth and Kinross Council – is unlikely to support an application for the erection of a conventional property on the land and, in response to a pre-application enquiry, the planners have said they are more likely to consider a small building used intermittently for recreational accommodation.
The new owners will need to work with Historic Environment Scotland in safeguarding the ruins and grants may be available. The area is also subject to a conservation agreement with the National Trust of Scotland, who would need to approve any work undertaken on site.