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A STORY thought to be a myth about a horse and cart being entombed during the building of an extension to the West Highland Railway Line over one hundred years ago has been proved to be true.

Date: Thu, 10 May 2001 10:51:31 -0000
From: “Martin Adamson” (spam-protected)
To: (spam-protected)
Subject: Century-old rail ‘myth’ proved

The Times

THURSDAY MAY 10 2001

Century-old rail 'myth' proved

BY A SCOTLAND CORRESPONDENT

A STORY thought to be a myth about a horse and cart being entombed during the building of an extension to the West Highland Railway Line over one hundred years ago has been proved to be true. After a 17-year search Professor Roland Paxton of Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, has found the animal’s remains in the spectacular Loch-nan-Uamh viaduct near Mallaig, Argyllshire.

Professor Paxton said that his team found the almost intact remains of the horse and cart on the weekend, using state of the art radar equipment to probe the pillars.

He said: “The cart is lying at the bottom of the 40ft pillar with the horse sitting vertically on top, as though they had fallen in backwards.”

The accident in 1899 must have happened as builders began pouring stone into the pillar’s cavity from a backed-up cart, he said. “It’s quite difficult to reverse a horse and cart and it looks like this one went over the edge and disappeared into the pier, dragging the poor horse in after it.”

The horse had probably died instantly, the professor said. “There’s evidence the horse’s neck was broken, presumably in the fall, and that the filling continued.”

Professor Paxton first read about the accident 17 years ago, but the myth and folklore that grew around the story made it difficult to know where to search. It was not until he recieved a tip-off from local man, Ewen Macmillan, 75, from Arisaig, Argyll, that he was able to find the right location.

Mr Macmillan said that he had first heard the story as a boy from his father. “I was fascinated and the story stuck in my head ever since,” he said.

Sir William McAlpine, whose great-grandfather Robert McAlpine was the building contractor on the eight-span viaduct, sponsored the search.

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