The Penny Bap, Seafield, Edinburgh.
The Penny Bap is a massive glacial erratic boulder that once had
a home in the Firth of Forth, just off the Seafield area and
was known to be accessible at low tide. The stone, also known as Shellycoat,
after a rare species of Scottish bogeyman known to haunt rivers
and streams - and also the sea, it would appear - was
moved to facilitate works at Leith docks and now rests, lost and
forlorn, at the
entrance to Seafield Sewage Works.
Seafield Sewage Works is located off Seafield Road in the Leith area of
Edinburgh. The Penny Bap stands in the car-park of a small
office block within a fenced compound. There is no ready access
to the public but the stone can be viewed through the fence.
There is limited space at the entrance area mentioned above for
parking. Take care not to block access to the Sewage Works.
The Penny Bap, when situated in it's original setting, was a
well known and popular landmark for local children in the Leith
area of Edinburgh. Superstition has it that the stone was the
haunt of a strange bogeyman called Shellycoat that wore a
garment made of shells - an old photograph of the Penny Bap
shows a covering of barnacles - possibly something that gave
rise to the superstition.
Shellycoat had a rather
fearsome rattle (from the shell coat) that was said to have
scared even the strongest of men. Youngsters in earlier times
when superstition had a greater part in everyday life, would
challenge each other to run three times round the rock,
repeating the words.
Shelly-coat! gang awa’ hame,
I cry na’ yer mercy, I fear na’ yer name."
They would then run for their lives, fearful
that Shellycoat would avenge their daring!
Bogeymen such as the Shellycoat tend to be relatively harmless
but have been known to mislead those found trespassing in their
territory. A common tactic employed by the Shellycoat was to
call out as if a person was drowning and in need of assistance,
then laugh at the confused victim. One wonders what happened to
the resident Shellycoat when the stone was moved? Perhaps he now
haunts the sewage works?
A final note. The 17th hole on Craigentinny Golf
Course, located less than a mile from where the stone once
stood, is called the Penny Bap.