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The Dwarfie Stane

Chambered Tomb


Sir Walter Scott visited the stone in 1814. He mentions it in chapter 19 of The Pirate:

"The lonely shepherd avoids the place, for at sunrise, high noon, or sunset, the misshapen form of the necromantic owner may sometimes wtill be seen sitting by the Dwarfie Stone."

Later in the book he describes the 'witch' Norna's visits to it to communicate with the troll who lives there.

In the 17th century at least, it was considered to be the home of a giant and his wife, with the stone inside their bed, and a hollowed area in it showing where the pregnant wife slept. Though judging by the size of it, a 'dwarfie' would fit better than a giant!

A late 16th century tradition suggested that the hole in the roof was gnawed by a giant who was trapped inside, after another giant blocked the entrance with a stone.

(info from Grinsell's folklore of prehistoric sites)

An echo is called, in Icelandic, 'dverg-mal' or dwarf-talk, and there is said to be a fine echo from under the Dwarfie Hamars. Then there is Trowie (Troll's) Glen to the westward of the stone. A troll or trow in old Icelandic lore is a huge creature or giant, mostly in an evil sense. Mr Heddle states that Trowie Glen is still considered an uncanny spot, and that people will go a mile or two out of their way rather than pass it after dark. In Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary, under Hill-Trows, it is stated that the superstitious in some places endeavour to bribe the trows by leaving an offering of food for them every night, being persuaded that otherwise they would destroy the family before morning. Probably this accounts for the offerings mentioned by Dr. Clouston as being left in the Dwarfie Stone.
From Alfred W Johnston's 'The 'Dwarfie Stone' of Hoy, Orkney' in the Reliquary for April 1896.

And speaking of echoes, the ones in the tomb itself don't sound much better: check out the tale at the bottom of this Everything2 page
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th September 2003ce
Edited 12th September 2010ce

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