On looking for a stag and finding something else

Seventy five years ago today, a stalker was looking for a wounded stag on the upper slopes of Ben Avon, the sprawling massif on the eastern edge of the Cairngorms.

Allt an Eas Mhoir @copyright Graham Marr

Scanning the ground in the remote burn of Allt an Eas Mhoir, he found instead a badly decomposed human head. A little further upstream, he found the body of a man dressed in a dark suit with a light check. Nearby lay a plain walking stick and a brown leather attaché case.

The contents of the case were as follows:

  • one pair of pyjama trousers
  • two starched collars
  • one toilet roll
  • one pair of scissors
  • one box of safety matches
  • one receipt from Simpson’s two day coach tours

Also adjacent, on a small ledge of rock were found: a razor; a shaving brush; a bar of soap; a bowler hat; toothpaste and toothbrush.

Extensive police enquiries at the time failed to either identify the man or establish how he came to grief.

I find myself less interested in the life and death of the deceased than in the effect of this discovery on the stalker. We know nothing of either.



This Mine is Ours

University of Edinburgh Human Geography Research Group


A film about Monktonhall Colliery by David Peat


3.30pm Thursday 26th September, the Old Library, Drummond Street


All are welcome.


David Peat (1947-2012) was a noted Scottish film director and photographer, whose works include Gutted (2004) and Please Leave the Light On (1997) as well as numerous films with Murray Grigor.


Monktonhall Colliery was one of the Scottish superpits, designed to exploit the deep limestone coals of the Midlothian basin, into which was sunk an extraordinary 900m shaft – an inverted Munro’s depth.  Though the pit broke records for productivity, it scarcely recovered from the political traumas of the miners strike. A subsequent workers buyout of the mine in the face of privatisation – chronicled here by David Peat – was ultimately unsuccessful. The remarkable pithead architecture, by noted European modernist Egon Riss, has since been demolished.