Sir, - Re last week's article "Mystery of the Grey Hen's Well".
On the No 4 (west) tablet of the memorial at Badbea to the last residents there, there is recorded "John Gunn, last tenant 1911".
His daughter Mary came to live at Helmsdale and each summer as long as she was physically fit returned to visit the site of her father's homestead. She was very old when I recall her visiting in her connection with my researches into the historical past of Badbea.
On taking her to Badbea once she told me that the Grey Hen's Well was so named because it was the drinking well for the inhabitants of an old thatched cottage nearby, the last survivor being a war widow (husband was killed in Waterloo, 1815) who was nicknamed in Gaelic "the Grey Hen". In her dotage she was tormented and annoyed a great deal by young folk who shouted the nickname at her frequently.
When the cottage, after her day, crumbled away, the doorstep was used to form the front "kneeling pad" at the well for drawing water. When the late Duke of Portland had the large stone erected it was said that "she would by it be remembered for all time whereas those who had annoyed her in her declining years would be absolutely forgotten."
I am, etc.,
This Letter to the Editor of the John O Groat Journal was published on 23 July 1976
Is Betty saying that the Duke of Portland used the old kneeling pad for his stone? I like that thought. Here is a picture of the stone taken in winter by David Glass.