"The Legend of the Bell Rock and other Tales of the Sea".....

Notes on


I first became aware of “The Legend of the Bell Rock!” in 1998 when I heard a recording of the Scottish actor, Robert Trotter, reading a story with that title written by Captain Frederick Marryat.

I was intrigued by Marryat’s tale and on further investigation, discovered the more familiar Robert Southey ballad entitled “The Inchcape Rock”.

Southey refers to the Abbot and the pirate, ‘Sir Ralph the Rover’, although in the ballad they are not related. Having researched some of the historical detail – sketchy and inconclusive – I found that the consensus opinion is that the pirate (if he ever existed) unhooked the bell and sank it because he wanted ships to founder on the rock so that he could plunder the wreckage. Given the stormy nature of the sea around Inchcape, this seems to me a risky enterprise and most unlikely.

And so I thought, “What if the Abbot and the pirate were brothers?” I considered this to be a much more attractive scenario! Sibling rivalry has always been a good subject for a story. For the pirate to be so consumed with hatred for his brother that he becomes motivated to perform such a wicked act also appealed to me and certainly justifies the manner of his demise!

Those who are familiar with both the Marryat version of the legend (a completely different story), and Southey’s ballad will see that in my tale, I have drawn inspiration from them both. I hope that you find my interpretation no less enjoyable!