IN THE mid-18th century. the Black Laird of Dunblane was returning from Alloa where he had met a friend and fellow tailor.

His friend accompanied him as far as Menstrie where they had a parting dram in a local inn, before he returned home.

At a green brae adjacent to the farmhouse of Loss at Menstrie Glen, the laird saw by the light of the moon a lot of little female fairies in green gowns.

He leaned on the plough and watched them with interest while they gathered windlestrae, or straw, and when they saw him, the Fairy Queen invited him to go with them.

They mounted bundles of the windlestrae, but he needed something more substantial. He picked up a plough-beam left in a furrow.

Crying 'Brechin to the bridal,' they flew in the air. The straw and the wooden bean suddenly became white horses.

They arrived at a large mansion and entered. A banquet had been prepared, and they all ate and drank, invisible to the guests.

Then, the Fairy Queen cried 'Cruinan to the dance,' and her assembled party repeated it in unison. They passed out again through the keyholes 'like a sough of wind,' and went in the same way to Cruinan.

Eventually the laird could not help exclaiming 'Weel dune Watson's auld plough-beam!' as he was enjoying himself so much, but suddenly found himself alone, astride the plough beam in the furrow in Menstrie Glen.

The enchantment had been broken, and the pretty fairies in their little green dresses had disappeared in that instant.

After a few moments trying to figure out what had happened, the laird headed home. When later questioned about the events that night, he adamantly denied having fallen asleep at the plough.

He said 'I couldna' be mista'en, and ye ken weel aenuch there's mony ane been carried awa' by the fairies an' never heard o' mair.'

As it would transpire, the Black Laird was superstitious, believing in kelpies, ghosts and fairies, and it was said that tailors especially had a close relationship with fairy folk and could communicate with them.

He also practiced herbal medicine and it was claimed, he had once been seen talking to the Devil at Lecropt near Bridge of Allan on his way home from Stirling.

He later said Auld Nick had told him to stop giving his herbal remedies to those who had fallen victim to spells and enchantments, and although he had been terrified by the meeting, he continued to help those poor souls and administer his remedies.