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The Giant of Shotts

Steeped in history, the village of Shotts in North Lanarkshire traces its roots back centuries, although it only truly established itself in the 19th century thanks to nearby mining and the opening of an ironworks. Numerous theories exist regarding the village's name, one being the legendary tale of the giant Bertram De Shotts.

The Legend

Although not a giant as we would imagine today from the term, Bertram was said to be between 7 and 8 feet tall and terrorised the area as a highwayman during the 15th century. For a long time, the area has been a key travel route between Edinburgh and Glasgow which would have offered rich pickings for Bertram. His sheer size and fearsome reputation meant few would resist his challenge. He became such a nuisance, with merchants reluctant to transport goods through the area, that King James IV is said to have intervened, offering a reward for capturing the giant, dead or alive.

The Kirk O 'Shotts

It will never be known how many tried, but one local man is said to have seized the opportunity when he spotted Bertram kneeling to drink from a well. As he approached, Bertram became aware of his presence, foiling the chance for a stealth attack. As the giant rose the man swung his sword, and whether by intention, luck, or both, the blow put the odds of winning firmly in his favour. His sword sliced through Bertram's hamstrings, severing the tendons, rendering the giant unable to stand or manoeuvre. Deprived of his height advantage and unable to dodge the ensuing attack, Bertram met his defeat, and some say he was beheaded, with his head presented to the King as proof to claim the reward.

The well where the giant was drinking is believed to be 'Kate's Well', named after St Catherine, and a chapel was later built on the spot where Bertram fell, also dedicated to St Catherine. This was later rebuilt and extended as the Kirk o' Shotts, which stands today, and a stone construction was added around Kate's Well.

Paranormal Activity

There have been many reports of this Kirk and the surrounding area being haunted, and it has been investigated by Ryan and myself, with hopes of the entire team visiting soon. One of the most common reports involves motorists 'hitting' someone on the road outside the church and on the road below which passes the well. When checking, they find no one is there and there is no damage to their vehicle.

The most common thought is that this is the spirit of William Smith, a Covenanter soldier. His grave within the kirkyard led to this connection. However, it could well be the ghost of Bertram De Shotts, still attempting to hold up and rob those passing through the area as he once did in life.

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