With winter well and truly upon us (we had our first heavy snowfall of the year last week) the time has come to embark on our annual redecorating project. This time it is the turn of our guest lounge here at Rigg House B&B. This has been a project which we have wanted to do for ages but, due to the size and grandness of the dual aspect room, the task always felt a litle daunting. Plus, we needed to find a design and colour scheme which both Jay and I could agree on which was perhaps the hardest part of the process!
When we first took over the B&B, I had the admittedly mad idea of decorating all the guest rooms in the theme of The Crystal Maze, simply because I thought it would be such fun to create an Aztec themed room and a Futuristic one etc. But of course I accept this was a daft idea and, in hindsight, it’s probably a good job that Jay said a big No to that plan. So, when I tentatively suggested basing the design of the lounge on The Overlook Hotel from the film, The Shining, I got another No from Jay. His reasoning was that it simply wouldn’t make sense to have a room in a B&B in Scotland based on a fictional hotel from an American horror film. I realised that if I was going to be able to follow through with my plan, then I would have to find a way to connect Rigg House with The Overlook in order to convince Jay to let me do it. And since I love to find connections with everything then I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to find a way to do it. Bear with me here…
Directly beside Rigg House, just on the other side of the A76, lies a patch of woodland, which just so happens to be one of my favourite places in the world. I believe it is called Rigg Wood and through it runs the picture-perfect Rigg Burn, complete with a little waterfall and a small pool for swimming in the warmer months. We have not one, but three hidden dens dotted aound the woodland and it serves as a great camping and outdoor learning spot for the kids, as well as a staple source of food for our family during wild garlic season! Passersby, speeding along the main road, would have no idea that this wonderland exisits and not a day goes by where I don’t feel insanely lucky to have such beauty literally on our doorstep. I don’t know how I would have coped during lockdown with out our ‘Fairy Woods’.
But within this picturesque setting lies a hidden story, and one which perhaps explains the eerie feelings and haunting sensations I have felt in the twilight hours when I’ve been on my nighttime adventures in the woodland. And once you know the history of this small patch of land, it begins to all make sense. And it was this angle which I latched on to in a bid to connect Rigg House B&B with the Overlook Hotel.
If you are familiar with the 1980 Stanely Kubrick film (or the Stephen King book on which the film is based), you will know that within the story, the site of the hotel (where the entire story is set) “is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground, and I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they were building it”. (Of course, ‘Indian’ in this sense means Native American Navajo people). Thankfully Rigg House itself wasn’t built upon any ancient burial grounds (that I know of), but the same perhaps can’t be said of Rigg Wood.
Just above the woods lies a patch of forest and land known as the Libry Plantation and Libry Moor, through which runs the ‘Deils (Devil’s) Dike’. According to the Canmore website, ‘Libry’ translates as ‘the abode of lepers”, and it is believed that the site may once have been the location of a Medieval Leper hospital. Although there is no pyhsical evidence of any hospital remaining, vague evidence of the ancient Rigg Well can still be found on Libry Moor which would have no doubt been used by the hospital. In his book Old Statistical Account of the Parish of Kirkconnel (1791-99), the Rev Mr John Robertson writes: “The most remarkable mineral springs here are, one on top of the Rig-hill, and another at the Rig-burn. The first is not wide, but very deep, and of the same quality as the Merkland Spaw in Galloway; and has been used with much advantage for stomachic complaints.” In a later publication, the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882), Francis Groome writes: “Two mineral springs on the farm of Rigg, resemble but excel the waters of Merkland Well in Lochrutton Parish and Hartfell Spa near Moffat, yet have never acquired celebrity.“
So, if there had indeed been a leper hospital built beside the well of healing waters of Rigg Well, I suppose it is likely that the surrounding woodland may have been used to bury the dead (which might explain the strange vibe in the woods which I experienced well before I knew anything about the leper hospital). And so this was my way of connecting one of the many strange aspects of Rigg Farm and its land with The Shining, in that both have spooky links to the past through (possible) burial grounds. Pretty tenuous I know…but I managed to convince Jay to let me go ahead with my crazy plans!
As a nod to the ‘Indian burial ground’ trope in the film, the lounge in the Overlook Hotel is stylishly themed with Navajo patterned rugs and a large Navajo sand art style mural above the fireplace. The look is pretty simple and crisp, yet still interesting and this was the vibe I wanted with our lounge. Plus by doing this it finally feels like I am using my degree in Film Studies in some small way!
So, I’m not sure if it is the case, but I am kind of hoping that Rigg House B&B will soon be the only B&B in Scotland which has an Overlook-themed guest lounge. If you are a fan of The Shining, then book your stay with us soon. Photos of the progress so far coming up shortly.
Location of Rigg Well: https://maps.nls.uk/view/74426637