Shocking Secret of the Scottish Cannibals!
From deep fried Mars Bars to neeps and tatties, square sausages to the ubiquitous haggis, the Scottish do have very distinct culinary traditions. But these sound positively scrumptious compared to the horrors of the Bean family kitchen, the most prolific and feared of all the Scottish cannibals.
In a decades long reign of terror, Sawney Bean stood at the head of a 48 strong clan responsible for the murder and cannibalisation of over 1000 people
Sawney Bean and the Witch
Born in the 16th century in East Lothian and known as “Sawney” to his friends and family, Alexander Bean initially followed his father into the family ditch-digging and hedge maintenance business. But he soon found that hard work was not to his liking. He fell into the ways of crime and eventually ran off with a cruel and spiteful woman called Agnes Douglas who stood accused of witchcraft.
Making their way south-west from Edinburgh, Sawney Bean and Agnes eventually holed up in a sea cave at Bennane Head in the wild and dangerous coastal region of South Ayrshire, Scotland.
Almost unknown, very hard to see and completely inaccessible at high tide, the cave has nothing more than a narrow crack for an entrance, but opens up massively inside and is over 200 yards in length. Sawney Bean and his wife decided it was an ideal spot to settle down and raise a family.
A Taste for Human Flesh
Most of the facts about Sawney Bean come from publications such as The Newgate Calendar, a salacious periodical that specialised in vile and murderous nastiness and a handful of eye-witness accounts. This makes it hard to identify precisely when they first turned to cannibalism and, due to a number of suspicious disappearances, some claim it was while they were still further north, near Edinburgh. In the end it matters little. Once safely ensconced in their secret cave they took to the taste of human flesh with delight.
Their plan was both simple and effective. They would lay in wait at night for a luckless traveller, or some poor sole staggering home from an inn. As their victim came by, they would burst from their hiding place, bludgeoning and hacking him to death, before dragging him back to their lair and feasting on his flesh. Any leftover parts from the dismembered bodies were pickled in wooden barrels found washed up on the shoreline or smoked like herring to preserve them for future meals.