In Moffat, Scotland, you can see a large bronze statue of a ram proudly surveys the town’s central marketplace from his privileged vantage point atop a sandstone fountain. It seems that it has more ghosts than it has ears, which would probably make it the world’s only haunted, earless statue of an ovine!
The town of Moffat had a considerable career as a cattle and sheep droving centre, with the main street serving as a market and corral. The wool from the local sheep was spun locally, woven and dyed, and still today there are a large number of shops on the High Street which offer woollen blankets, scarves and clothing to the tourists.
The Moffat Ram (Colvin Fountain) is the more-recent memorial to that time, with its fountain designed to provide water to dogs, horses and men. Until they were removed, iron cups chained to the fountain allowed men to drink from the water-spouts, the granite basins for dogs are at the base of the fountain, whilst those for horses are at their level.
Historically, the bronze ram sculpture and the relative fountain were commissioned in 1875 by a local businessman, William Colvin, as a gift to his native town to commemorate its long association with sheep farming and the wool trade. The artist chosen to undertake the work was a prolific and celebrated Victorian Scottish sculptor named William Brodie, whose most popular work is the statue of a faithful dog, Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh (but this is another story).
According to legend, at the unveiling of the statue, a local farmer exclaimed, “It has nae lugs!” which, in English, translates to “It has no ears!” And he was right: the otherwise perfect sculpture is, still today, totally lacking ears. If the legend were to be believed, the sculptor, Brodie, was so embarrassed at his mistake that he returned to his room in the Annadale Arms Hotel, within sight of the newly revealed sculpture, and hanged himself. The legend says he haunts the hotel corridors to this day, perhaps searching for the missing “lugs”. Fortunately for him, and unfortunately for fans and enthusiasts of ghost stories, this popular myth has no basis in truth at all, as, embarrassed or not, Brodie died at his home in Edinburgh six years after the unveiling!
The statue’s other alleged spirit presence is that of Colvin, who, 19th-century plumbing notwithstanding, is accused of making the tapping noises emanating from the fountain.
Improbably legends aside, the statue is an instantly recognizable symbol of the town, a clear monument to the area’s ties to the wool trade and a very beautiful sculpture by a much-celebrated artist.
Author’s notes: Moffat is set in beautiful countryside in the Southern Uplands, and is easily accessible from Junction 15 of the M74 Motorway. It is an hour by car from Glasgow (and an hour and a half on the X74 Bus).
Images from web