Alexander Sawney Bean. incestuous cannibalistic family

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Photo: Getty Images. Scottish cannibal Alexander 'Sawney' Bean, circa 1400.

Photo: Getty Images.
Scottish cannibal Alexander ‘Sawney’ Bean, circa 1400.

The Legend of Sawney Bean

Scottish historic folklore is full of grizzly tales of death and murder. The story of Sawney Bean is one of the most gruesome Scottish legends. Evidence suggests the tale dates to the early 18th century.

Alexander Sawney Bean was, legend tells, the head of an incestuous cannibalistic family, who oversaw a 25-year reign of murder and robbery from a hidden sea cave on the Ayrshire/Galloway coast in the 15th century. The cave most readily associated with Sawney and his nefarious clan is close to Ballantrae on Bennane head in Ayrshire, although other sea caves along the Ayrshire and Galloway coast have also been associated with the story.

Alexander “Sawney” Bean was born in the later part of the fourteenth century in East Lothian, Scotland. Bean was raised in an agricultural community and came from a rather poor family of laborers. The home life of Bean was said to be, at best, a horrible upbringing. Often being beat by his father for never quite being a good enough son.

As Alexander got older he attempted to become the son his father had always wanted, by taking on the duties of adulthood and joining the workforce. Due to his reckless attitude, a natural born urge to disobey the rules, and a deep hatred for actual work, Alexander completely failed in his attempts at earning an honest living, once again disappointing his father.

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