Thursday, 27 June 2013


After the local time slip incidents that have been occurring recently. I am pleased to say that the council have finally seen sense and abandoned their reckless tinkering with the passage of time. The clock faces in Dufftown's clock tower have now been replaced and normality has resumed.

And as by means of an apology for all the inconvenience the towns folk have had to endure over the past couple of weeks. The clock faces have all been fully restored to their former glory. They really do look grand and so they should, they have quite a history after all.

Originally the Dufftown jail, the tower later  served as the burgh chambers and now houses the tourist information centre but was also at one time was the site of illicit distilling. But why is it known as  "the clock that hanged MacPherson".? 

MacPherson was a well known outlaw back in the day who was thought of by some to be the Robin Hood of the North. His full story can be found below but in short MacPherson was hung under dubious circumstance at the costal town of Banff  back in 1700. The Banff town clock played a central part in his demise and some time after 1839 the faces were removed from Banff and rehoused in the newly built Dufftown tower, In 2009  the romance and tragedy of MacPherson's story provided an inspiration for Beijing based artist, Qi Xing which moved him to paint his own sensitive tribute. 'As if James MacPherson had ever played fiddle to a white stag'

The following extract is taken from

James Macpherson was born, the illegitimate son of a Scottish Laird and a gypsy girl, in 1675.  He was a well known freebooter and outlaw around the north of Scotland, and particularly in the Moray area, towards the end of the 17th century.   James (Jamie) Macpherson was a man of magnificent stature, strength and intellect; an expert swordsman and accomplished fiddler.   He led a band of Gypsies who
 terrorised the landed gentry around the Moray area and he earned a reputation as a Scottish Robin Hood by stealing from the wealthy and sharing the spoils with the less fortunate.

Jamie was finally captured in Keith in Moray by a posse organised by his arch enemy, Lord Duff of Braco.   He may have escaped if a woman had not thrown a blanket over him from an upstairs window.   He was tried in Banff by Sheriff Nicholas Dunbar (A friend of Lord Braco) and condemned to hang for the crimes of purse cutting, theft and of being an Egyptian or gypsy.   Thus the last capital sentence executed in Scotland under Heritable Jurisdiction took place in mid November 1700.   On the day of the execution, Lord Braco heard that a lone rider was approaching from Turriff with a reprieve, and had the town clock turned forward by fifteen minutes to ensure the execution was not stopped.

Jamie had composed "Macpherson's Lament" in jail -
later re-written by Robert Burns.   It is said that Jamie played the lament on his fiddle at the gallows and then offered the violin to anyone in the crowd who would play at his wake.   When no one came forward, he broke the fiddle over his knee and said "no one will ever play Jamie Macpherson's fiddle again".   Another less likely version of the story says that he broke the fiddle over the executioner's head and jumped from the platform, hanging himself.   The fiddle can still be seen today in a folk museum near Newtonmore.

The people involved in moving the clock forward were punished, and for many years afterwards the clock was kept fifteen minutes fast, as a reminder of that fateful day. Still to this day the clock tower in Macduff has the clock on its western side blanked out as a gesture to the people of Banff.

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