Article from the Carlisle Patriot, October 1861


The Popping Stone.- I was not unmindful that it was at Gilsland that Scott first met with his wife, the beautiful Miss Charpentier, and the spot where he put the “momentous question” is said to have become a favourite resort of fair spinsters in their rambles with the Gilsland beaux. The very stone even on which Miss Charpentier sat on the interesting occasion is identified, it is called “The Popping Stone,” and many fragments are chipped from it, as amulets propitious to Hymen, for like the stone on which St. Thomas of Canterbury received the crown of martyrdom, its virtue exists with equal potency in the smallest fractions as in the whole mass. When I enquired the way to this hallowed spot, I was told that the etiquette of the place did not admit of a gentleman undertaking to guide thither one of his own sex, but that I might be sure of finding some fair one hunting the confines of the Gilsland “Caaba” like an unquiet spirit, which I found to be true, for crossing the stream by stepping stones in the direction of Wardrew, near to which I knew was the goal of my pilgrimage, I fell in with a young lady as predicted, who, on my modest representation, willingly undertook the office of guide, and truly Miss Charpentier could hardly have listened to the poet’s vows in a fairer or more secluded scene. The large stone which constituted her resting place is chequered by the shadows of a mountain ash, that grows on the brink of the clear swift stream, whose course narrows here between steep embowered banks, where the cooing voice of the cushat dove mingles with the murmurs of the waters as, gliding over many a rocky ledge, they flow in music that the fairies in their moonlight revels might not disdain to dance to. Leaving the quiet scene with an aspiration that it might have many repetitions of the whispered “Yes!” to be succeeded by as many happy marriages, I hastened on my return to the hotel.

Byeline: Once a Week

This article is one of the earliest naming the Popping Stone in print. It is noteable for:

  • The wonderful phrase "amulets propitious to Hymen";
  • An assertion that pieces were chipped off, dating from before the Stone's re-shaping. This may well be genuine folklore, therefore, and not only a means to explain the re-shaping.
  • The reference to the etiquette of the place not admitting of a gentleman guide, an interesting elaboration of the oft repeated idea that a young woman would instinctively find her way to the Stone.
  • The inspired conceptual link to the Kaaba, a place of pilgrimage which contains a stone turned black by the mass of sins laid upon it.