The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

The Dwarfie Stane

Chambered Tomb


There seems no end to the folklore this weird place has inspired:
This extraordinary work has probably been the pastime of some frolicsome shepherd, or secluded devotee; and the history of the stone having been lost, it was natural for the people of a superstitious age and country to apply a fabulous origin both to the stone and its inhabitants, in so retired and lonely place as the vale of Rockwich. The story, therefore, goes, that the Dwarfie-Stone fell from the moon, and that it was once the habitation of a fairy and his wife, a water-kelpie.
'Memoranda from the Note-book of a Traveller' in the Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, Jan-June 1822.

Still, it's clear that the stone was a popular tourist spot for travellers, so maybe the guides just told them whatever popped into their heads at the time. I think I would have done the same.

Another strange tale concerns the mountain to the north west, Ward Hill. It's an isolated hill and the highest point on the island.
At the west of this stone stands an exceeding high mountain of a steep ascent, called the Ward-hill of Hoy, near the top of which, in the months of May, June, and July, about midnight, is seen something that shines and sparkles admirably, and which is often seen a great way off. It hath shined more brightly than it does now, and though many have climbed up the hill, and attempted to search for it, yet they could find nothing. The vulgar talk of it as some enchanted carbuncle, but I take it rather to be some water sliding down the face of a smooth rock, which, when the sun, at such a time, shines upon, the reflection causeth that admirable splendour."-- Dr Wallace's Description of the Islands of Orkney, 1700, p52.
I wonder what this can mean, whether it was an ongoing local tale or just an observation. Whichever, I don't like his tone, talking of The Vulgar, and although a carbuncle is a gemstone, you can't shake the feeling he's well aware of its alternative meaning. And he blames it on the sun, and I know it can be quite light at midnight in the north of Scotland, but surely there's not the angle for reflecting to be going on? dunno. It sounds nice though.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
20th February 2009ce
Edited 20th February 2009ce

Comments (2)

Earthlight(s) ? tiompan Posted by tiompan
20th February 2009ce
Cool! I hadn't thought of that. That would be a nice touch. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st February 2009ce
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