Everyone has heard the tale of Sawney Bean the cannibal family man who haunted the countryside of South Ayrshire in the 1500’s but how much do you actually know about the legend. Well let us at LoveAyrshire give you a bit more insight into the hideous crimes of the Bean Clan with the 8 Things You Might Not Know About Sawney Bean.

Sawney was from East Lothian

Sawney was from East Lothian

Sawney Bean wasn’t an Ayrshire native. He was born Alexander Bean in East Lothian. Sawney married  “Black” Agnes Douglas and set up home in Bennane Cave, by Ballantrae. It has been rumored that “Black” Agnes was a witch and the two would inhabit the caves for the next 25 years. The caves came complete with passages and hidden openings and what happened next is the stuff of legend.  

His Family Spread Over Three Generations

His Family Spread Over Three Generations

The newly wed Sawney and Agnes had fourteen children in total. These fourteen children went on to have children of their own. This means the Bean family diagram was more of a straight line than anything resembling an actual tree. Reports differ but sources say that there was anything between twenty five to forty eight members in the grotesque Bean Clan. 

They Evaded Justice For Years

They Evaded Justice For Years

Sawney and his clan roamed the Scottish countryside for years free to carry out their hideous crimes but with this the cannibal family grew complacent. They started to throw their leftovers in the the sea which would wash up on the coastal shores of Ayrshire. The limbs of travellers would be found by the authorities and this ultimately led to many an innocent person being hung for crimes the Bean Clan committed.

He was the influence for “The Hills Have Eyes”

He was the influence for “The Hills Have Eyes”

Writer and Director Wes Craven said he used the story of Sawney Bean as a primary source for his 1977 Script. For anyone who hasn’t seen “The Hills Have Eyes” it follows a family travelling through America only to be captured by the deranged Carter family, a sadistic family of cannibal criminals. Sound familiar?

If you want to find out some more about killers who influenced Hollywood films check out Pop Nonsense and their 5 Real Life Killers Who Inspired Movie Mad Men.

There was Only One Survivor

There was Only One Survivor

The Bean clan attacked and devoured over 1000 people but only one person was lucky enough to evade the onslaught. A married couple were travelling the Ayrshire back roads when they we attacked by the cannibal family. The wife killed while the husband fought for his life. Fellow travellers heard the screams of the couple and they managed to chase the Bean family away. This was reported to the authorities who finally had found the people responsible for the murders of countless travellers.

King James IV Got Involved

King James IV Got Involved

The crimes of the Bean clan were so heinous that King James IV got directly involved. James led a four hundred strong army accompanied by bloodhounds to find Sawney and his gruesome family. The clan were arrested in their cave and marched to Edinburgh to be sentenced. The families crimes were so horrific, so dreadful that the court bypassed the law to have the Bean’s executed immediately. The men had their arms and legs cut off while the women watched only to be burned at the stake like witches after having witnessed the demise of their fathers, husbands and brothers.

A Psychic Visited Sawney’s Cave

A Psychic Visited Sawney’s Cave

As it turns out Psychic Tom Robinson disagrees with the method of execution used. Upon visiting the site he reported that although the Bean Clan were apprehended in the infamous cave their fate was much worse. He claims that the King James army sealed the caved and burned the family alive. Robinson also stated that he witnessed apparitions of the gruesome murders accompanied by screaming. He exorcised the cave.

He may not have actually existed

He may not have actually existed

That’s right the dark tales of Bean Clan may be completely fictitious for a number of reasons. Sawney’s cannibalistic endeavours happened in the 1500’s but the story never surfaced until 200 years later in the 1700’s when it showed up in The Newgate Calendar, the catalogue of crimes from London’s Newgate Prison. There are absolutely no official records of the incidents which King James VI was directly involved in thwarting. That is a strange one considering the King personally marched his army to Ayrshire from Edinburgh. There is also very little in the way of evidence that the Bean Clan had been executed for their crimes. It turns out that the legend may have been concocted to discredit the Scottish people as a reaction to the Jacobite Uprising. There was a lot of Anti-Scots feelings at the time and the story may have been fabricated as a way to make the Scottish people look a bit  worse in the eyes of their neighbours.

And that’s our list. Did we miss out any Sawney Bean facts? Let us know in the comment section people and thanks for reading but before you go

We want to know what you think? Is the tale of Sawney Bean real or was it is just a legend?

We want to know what you think? Is the tale of Sawney Bean real or was it is just a legend?

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