Back in 2003, two Edinburgh children reported seeing a creature on a farm they could only describe as a troll. JOHN S TANTALON takes a look at the strange case…
What did Kerrie see that day? Was it an animal? Was it an alien, or was it a troll?
On a warm summer afternoon in 2003, two friends met with a terrifying encounter. Ten-year-old Kerrie and her friend (his identity is known, but he would like to remain anonymous) played without a care in the world that day. The location is a long and lonely stretch of land in the Gilberstoun area of Edinburgh.
Nearby, Brunstane Farm and its manor house sit close by, and the iconic Newhailes Estate sits a mere stone’s throw away. The farm and shrubland displayed a sea of yellow with the warm summer weather. The overgrown crops blew gently in the breeze; distant traffic was the only constant sound.
The two children made their way across the old stone bridge and towards the vicinity of Newhailes House. Suddenly and without warning, they realised that they were not alone. From the overgrown crops before them came a deep, rustling sound. Was it a dog? A fox or badger? Slowly and surely, they would see for themselves.
Kerrie describes what she witnessed that day as being about two feet tall. It was rusty in colour and had large, wide eyes. Its body connected to its neck with what was clothing of the same rusty colour. With small, thin limbs, the bizarre sight startled her that day. Her only way to describe it was that it resembled a troll.
The children screamed, and with this, the creature fled and bounded over the wall of the Newhailes Estate. It ran within the area of the pet cemetery and adjacent stables. With that, it was gone for both children, never to be seen again.
The story of the odd creature did not surface again for many years; Kerrie states that whenever she would attempt to discuss the subject with her friend, he would immediately shut her down. Only recently, while researching stories on Portobello and its Haunted Neighbours for my second book, did the story materialise.
Kerrie insists that what she witnessed that day was real and not a figment of her imagination. It jumped over a solid wall and ran away before her eyes. The area where she sighted the creature has its own dark and mysterious history.
The grounds of Gilberstoun and its fields have been documented as the location where troops marched and perished on the road to the Battle of Prestonpans. The battle commenced on 21 September 1745, the first significant engagement of the Jacobite rising.
Jacobite forces, led by Charles Edward Stuart, defeated a government army under Sir John Cope, whose inexperienced troops broke in the face of a Highland charge. The battle lasted less than thirty minutes, boosted Jacobite morale, and established the revolt as a severe threat to the British government.
The Newhailes estate also features a suitably dark history. The estate was owned by the Dalrymple family from 1709 to 1997. David Dalrymple’s older brother John holds that infamous title of the man responsible for commanding The Massacre of Glencoe. The family crest eponymously resembled the nine of diamonds playing card, nicknamed The Curse of Scotland.
With regards to the troll?
Why would a troll walk the grounds of Brunstane and the Newhailes Estate? Should such a creature exist, it would roam Norway’s ice-covered fjords!
Well! Norway and Edinburgh do hold strong connections.
Except for the 1262 battle of the Hebrides between Scotland and Norway, both countries have remained close allies. During World War Two, Norwegian trawler boats would flee Norway to aid Scotland in the war effort.
The legendary Bamse, the Sea Dog’s statue, sits proudly on Montrose’s dock. The nautical connections of Christian Salveson shipping and the Norwegian Fisherman’s Museum in Leith hold Edinburgh near its Scandinavian neighbours. Does the question lie?
Could one of Norway’s famous trolls have found its way here and settled within the grounds of Newhailes?
What are your thoughts on this story? Tell us in the comments section below!
JOHN S TANTALON is an Edinburgh author, the face and voice behind North Edinburgh Nightmares, its two books, and several videos. His new book, The Haunted Realms of Surrey and Hampshire, is now available from Amazon.