Cannibalistic cult of '40 incestuous family members lived in a cave and ate passers-by'

Alexander "Sawney" Bean and Black Agnes Douglas led an incestuous cult of 40-plus members in the 16th Century.

Express, UK/February 25, 2023

By Tom Watling

In the depths of a hidden, 180-metre deep coastal cave in Scotland, the legend goes that Sawney Bean and his incestuous cult killed over a thousand people over more than two decades. Unsuspecting passers-by were robbed, killed then horrifically eaten in a bid to avoid detection. The gruesome story of how the cult grew has been retold in a spine-tingling tale.

Alexander “Sawney” Bean moved into the coastal cave in South Ayrshire, Scotland, between Girvan and Ballantrae, in the 16th Century.

After meeting Black Agnes Douglas having left his childhood home in East Lothian, the pair moved into the cave to save money.

With no source of income, the couple ambushed travellers on a nearby road before dragging them back to the cave, where they would be robbed and killed.

But keen to avoid detection from the authorities, the pair resorted to consuming the corpses, and pickling what they could not eat. They would later throw the bones into the sea.

You'd be forgiven for not wanting to go to Sawney's cave

The cave in which they lived was approximately 180 metres deep and the path to the entrance was completely blocked at high tide.

Over a span of roughly 25 years, the cannibalist couple went on a gruesome murder spree, with locals believing that wild animals were carrying out the savage attacks.

Black Agnes gave birth, it is believed, 14 times during their time in the cave, including eight sons and six daughters.

Unable to mix with the nearby village population, the children then resorted to incest, producing 14 granddaughters and 18 grandsons.

Together, the incestuous, cannibalistic cult of around 40 family members spent years kidnapping passers by and eating them.

However, their downfall came when a robbery attempt went awry and a husband escaped the attack.

They ambushed a husband and wife who were travelling along the coast on horseback, but the victims fought back and the husband managed to escape.

He informed the local magistrate about his horrific experience, after which King James IV organised a search party consisting of 400 men and several bloodhounds.

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