THE wildness of the Scottish countryside can often be matched by the wildness of some of the tragic love stories captured by novelists who take a romantic view of our history.

One of the best examples of fiction, loosely based on fact, was created by occasional county visitor Sir Walter Scott who retold a childhood tale he learned from his mother in the classic, The Bride of Lammermoor.

His novel described the tale of a young noblewoman Lucy Ashton whose secret engagement to Edgar Ravenswood, the son of her father’s bitter rival, ends in tragedy when she is forced to marry a more suitable suitor and stabs him in their bedchamber on their wedding night.

The tale is said to have been based on stories about the Dalrymple family and Rutherford family, to whom Sir Walter’s mother Anne was a descendant.

It is said Janet Dalrymple. daughter of the 1st Viscount of Stair, secretly pledged to wed Archibald, third Lord Rutherford.

However a more pleasing suitor appeared for her parents, David Dunbar, and Janet’s mother intervened sending Archibald word that her daughter had changed her mind and insisting this more suited marriage would go ahead.

The marriage between Janet and Dunbar went ahead in August 1669 in the church of Old Luce, Wigtownshire.

But later, as the celebrations continued, guests were disturbed by screaming from the wedding bed chamber.

The doors were forced open to find Dunbar stabbed and bleeding and Janet cowering in a corner.

Legend has it that as Janet was forcibly removed from the room she looked at her new husband and declared, “Take up thy bonny bridegroom”.

A few weeks after the wedding night tragedy, Janet, who had been declared insane, died without ever speaking of what happened in the chamber.

Her new husband survived the attack but also remained tight-lipped on the gory events.

It is not clear whether Janet attacked him or, as is often rumoured, Archibald had been laying in wait and carried out the assault before then fleeing from the room.

David Dunbar would go on to marry Lady Eleanor Montgomerie, daughter of the Earl of Eglinton, five years later but died in a riding accident in 1682.

Archibald died three years later without children.

Many of the scenes for the Bride of Lammermoor, including the fictional Wolff’s Crag, where the spurned lover was said to brood, have never been identified and their locations have led to wide speculation but it is generally accepted that the tale itself unfolds in East Lothian. It went on to form the basis of Donizetti’s 1835 opera Lucia di Lammermoor, which is still performed to this day as a drama of tragic proportions.