Folklore has it that if a man is murdered on Arran his ghost will walk the hills unless his boots are buried at the high-water mark.

132 years ago today, an English holidaymaker went missing on the island, whilst climbing Goatfell.

200 people searched the island for signs, and two weeks later, on July 28, 1889, the body of Edwin Robert Rose was found near the mountain’s 2,866ft summit, under a granite boulder, “the face terribly mangled” with his head and face brutally smashed, probably by rocks.

Rose was a 32-year-old builder's clerk from the south London suburb of Upper Tooting who had last been seen alive on the mountain. He was found on August 4, concealed under an overhanging boulder at Corr-na-Fourin, near the head of Glen Sannox.

The last person seen in his company, a 26-year-old engineering worker known as ‘John Annandale’, was nowhere to be found.

The considered medical opinion of three doctors who examined Rose’s body concluded that “Murder most foul was carried out in Arran on July 15, 1889”.

The Goatfell Murder captured the public imagination across the country, created a debate over the conflict in ''scientific'' evidence, and, even led to rebukes for police officers who put faith in folklore above their duty.

The hunt for John Annandale, – or John Laurie – was underway, with sightings across Scotland and the North of England over a month after.

It began with a chance meeting on the Arran ferry. Laurie, who had assumed the name of Annandale and even had cards printed to this effect, struck up a conversation with the young Englishman.

They took lodgings together at Invercloy, near Brodick, and, on July 15 set out to climb Goatfell.

They were spotted together by several witnesses during the climb, and at the summit, and that was the last time Rose was seen alive.

Nobody knows just who happened on the way down from the summit, but certain facts appear consistently within reports.

Rose’s body was found purposefully concealed in a 42-stone crypt, having died of massive injuries to the head and body.

Several of his belongings - a hat and walking cane - had been found further up the isolated corrie.

The pair had been seen by at least five witnesses on the summit of Goatfell at about 6.20 pm, but none had witnessed their descent.

Did he fall, as the defence argued, or was he brutally battered to death with a blunt instrument, probably a boulder, as the prosecution contended.

Laurie’s defence counsel stated that three doctors agreed that his injuries sounded like they were from a fall, the High Court heard in Edinburgh, yet later discovered they did not examine the body.

The jury was almost equally divided. On November 12, eight members found Laurie guilty of murder: seven returned verdicts of not proven.

Following the two-day trial, the Judge, Lord Kingsburgh, ordered death by hanging.

But the legal controversy was such that the death penalty was later revoked, and Laurie was sentenced to life imprisonment.

He died, 41 years later, still protesting innocence, in the ‘lunatic section’ - as it was then known - of Perth prison.  

The Lord Justice-Clerk said the case was ''almost wholly dependent on circumstantial evidence.'' It ''presented features which were altogether peculiar to it and placed it outside the category of ordinary justice.''

Throughout, Laurie refused to say anything, except to maintain his innocence of the charge that he ''did assault Edwin Robert Rose, of Wirist Lodge, Hendon Road, Upper Tooting, London, and did throw him down, beat him, and did murder him.''

Laurie was seen alone in the Corrie Hotel at 10 pm on July 15. He bought beer and whisky to liberate him on the walk to Brodick.

His landlady at Invercloy testified that his bags, and those of Rose, were removed from her house on the night of July 15 or early on July 16. He did not settle his lodgings bill. 

On July 16, Laurie was seen carrying these bags to the pier, including Rose's jacket and cane.

He boarded the steamboat Scotia and returned to Rothesay, where both he and Rose had been on holiday.

On July 31, he had left his job as a patternmaker in Springburn, collecting his outstanding wages.

That same day he sold his tools, for 25 Shilling, to a broker in the South Side of Glasgow.

He wrote to his landlady, enclosing a postal order for his rent, saying that there were ''some people trying to get me into trouble, and I think you should give them no information at all, and I will prove to them how they are mistaken before long.''

When the Englishman failed to return home his family raised the alarm and, following concerted searches involved across the island, the body was discovered on August 4.

When this news was released, Laurie was already on the run. For a month, sightings of him were reported all over Scotland and the North of England.

On September 3, Police Constable James Gordon spotted Laurie in Hamilton and assisted by a group of miners, pursued him to Bogwood.

A boy told the policeman ''there is something in that bush.''

It was Laurie, who had attempted suicide, his throat slit by the open razor in his hand. The only thing he was sorry about was that he ''had not done it right.''

When cautioned and charged, he replied: ''I robbed the man, but I did not murder him.''

The Crown case relied heavily on the evidence of Dr Andrew Gilmour, a Linlithgow surgeon who had been on holiday in Arran.

He and Dr William Fullerton of Lamlash went to Corr-na-Fourin when the body was discovered. They stated categorically that death had been caused by blows inflicted by a blunt instrument.

However, under cross-examination, they admitted it was possible that the injuries could have been caused by a fall.

On September 27, the body had been exhumed in the presence of Dr Henry Littlejohn, medical officer of health for Edinburgh and police surgeon for Edinburgh.

He, too, stated that Rose had been murdered. And he, too, agreed with defence counsel that a fall might have caused the terrible injuries to the head and face.

For its part, the defence put up three doctors who believed that a fall was the most likely cause of death.

However, none of these doctors had examined the body and agreed with the prosecution that the injuries could have been caused by blows inflicted by a blunt instrument.

The evidence of the police officers present when the body was discovered provided a strange twist to the grisly tale.

Sergeant William Munro, of Lamlash, was reluctant to answer questions about the whereabouts of Rose's boots.

The Solicitor-General asked: ''Where are the boots now?'' Munro: ''I cannot say.''

Finally, the Lord Justice-Clerk demanded: ''Do you know?''

Sheepishly, Munro said: ''I believe they were buried . . . on the beach above the high-water mark.''

Police Constable Duncan Coll had buried them. Munro said he did not know who had given the order to do so, but the chief constable had been present at the time.

The mystery of the buried boots was concluded at least.

After only 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned its majority verdict. The public was on tenterhooks for the decision.

The Glasgow Herald, which carried a page and a half of the case each day, reported:

''The verdict was intimated over the telephone to the head office of the Evening Times where it was received about 10.25 pm, and in a very few minutes, the late edition was on sale in the streets, a large staff of boys being in attendance.

“Fifteen minutes afterwards, heavy parcels were dispatched throughout the city. The various district offices of the Evening Times were literally besieged about eleven o'clock at night, crowds extending halfway across each street, and in retail shops, the papers were snatched up as soon as they came to hand.

“The printing machines at the head office were kept working till midnight, at which hour 167,000 copies had been sent out and distributed.”