The Lost Diamond of Nigg Hill

icon Back to all articles

The Legend of the lost diamond of Nigg Hill

Many years ago, the sailors trading in the Firth, when they were between two and three miles off Nigg Hill, used to see a bright speck flashing in the sun's rays during the day, and shining with its own luminosity at night, upon the rocky face of the hill, as if a star had fallen from its place in the heavens and got located in a crevice of the rock. From its brilliancy and the fact that it could be seen at night well as day, the sailors came to the conclusion that there was a diamond hidden away somewhere upon the rocky hill, which only became visible from this particular point, for on approaching nearer to the rock, it disappeared, and no amount of searching could bring it from its place of concealment. Many an hour had been spent in searching for it by the neighbouring cottars. Searching for this gem had caused many a schoolboy to play truant, and even several of the local laird's had been known to leave their shooting and join in the search for the fruitless treasure.

The fishermen and sailors from their ships and boats attempted to take the bearings of the brilliant, but with like results, until captain Ross of a trading vessel, named the " Novar," engaged in the coal trade between Sunderland and Invergordon and Portmahomack, who had often watched it as he sailed to and from the Cromarty Firth, and pictured to himself the easy life on land it would give him, in place of being exposed to the dangers of the stormy sea, was walking his deck trying to form a plan by which he would get the gem into his possession. An Irish seaman on board, by the name Paddy O'Brien, thus addressed him-

"Look here, captain, I have found a plan by which we can secure the darlint treasure."

"Well, Paddy, and how would you do it"

“Captain, sir, you see when we get near the rock, the darlint dimint disappears. Could we bot take the brass six-pounder in the poop and fire a shot at the rock to mark the spot?"

There is something in your Irish pate after all, Paddy. Your suggestion is a good one, and we'll give it a trial.

That night the good ship "Novar" took up her position opposite the Nigg Hill, where the bright light upon the hill could be seen. The gun was carefully loaded, and to be certain of leaving a conspicuous mark, a piece of white limestone was used for a bullet. After taking sure aim, there was a flash, a loud report, and a cloud of smoke, and the charge sped away on its eccentric mission.

For a few minutes the smoke hung over the water, and, when it lifted, the whole crew strained their eyes to see the familiar speck, but the looked-for light sent back no answering flash. Nothing but the black rock appeared to the visage: they had struck the shining mark and covered it over with the limestone. A boat was quickly lowered and rowed ashore as fast as the brawny arms of the sailors could make it speed. Up the rugged cliff, they climbed, seeking the mark of the white charge. Over every part of the hill they sought it, but alas! all in vain. It eluded search, as did the sparkling gem which it covered, for even it did not reveal itself to the sailors on the Firth.

Days, months, and years have passed away, but no one has since seen the wonderful diamond of Nigg Hill. To the ships coming in toward Tarbatness, the hill stands out in bold relief against the sky; at night its dark form still appears to rise out of the water. Many sailors remember the bright star that used to twinkle in the black face of the hill, and mayhap look to see if it will again appear to them, but all to no purpose.

Sometimes a shepherd boy may be seen yet seeking among the rocky cliffs for the mysterious gem, but he, too, has to go unrewarded, for it has appeared to no one since the night Captain Ross of the "Novar" fired the shot at the mystic light on the Nigg Hill.

Keith, February 28th. 1891