A drowning pit, drowning pool or murder hole (not to be confused with defensive murder holes) was a well or pond specifically for executing females under Scottish feudal laws. Rivers or lochans were used if conveniently situated near to a moot hill, where the baronial court judge would announce the death penalty.

Drownings[2] were carried out until the late 17th century across Scotland as a punishment for a variety of crimes.  For instance, in 1623, eleven gypsy women were recorded as being drowned in the city’s Nor Loch. In 1679, a woman named Janet Grant was tried for theft in the baronial court of Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonston. She was found guilty and drowned the next day in the Loch of Spynie.

Ordnance Survey Name Book, Banffshire, Volume 23, OS1/4/23/111

[1] Scotland’s Places – Ordnance Survey Name Book, Banffshire, Volume 23, OS1/4/23/111.

[2] The Scotsman – Friday 18 March 2016, The Dark History of Scotland’s Drowning Pools.