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The Dunnan

Cliff Fort


The great distinctive headland of the Mull of Galloway is traditionally described as the scene of the last stand made by the Picts, as they were driven backwards and seawards to destruction by the overwhelming force of the Scots.


Not far from this classic spot, a favourite haunt of the fairies is located. South of Portankill there is a small fortification called the Dunnan. On this spot there came once upon a time to a man sitting there, on a fine summer evening, an old-fashioned looking, diminutive woman dressed in green, carrying a tiny ailing child on her back, and holding a little wooden water stoup in her hand. She earnestly asked this man to go to the far-famed and quite near "Well of the Co' " and bring her some of the healing water for the decrepit little morsel she carried, as she was tired and done. Churlishly enough the man refused, and roughly told her she could go her own errands. The little woman bore his abuse patiently enough, then, naming him, solemnly warned him "never again to sit down on her hoose-riggin' or he might look to it" - and then somehow she seemed to disappear. The man began to regret his ungracious conduct, all the more that it was generally believed that beneath the "Dunnan" lived the fairies, and if that was so, then at that very moment he was actually on their "hoose-riggin'." Much disturbed in mind, he made for home; but tradition affirms that from that day forward everything went wrong - cattle died and crops failed, and eventually, going one night to the Dunnan to watch a vessel that was likely to come ashore and so help his own evil plight, he was stricken with illness at the hands of the fairies - so the country-side said - and died.
From 'Witchcraft and superstitious record in the south-western district of Scotland' (1911), J M Wood.

Or for a version more in the local dialect (perhaps) then see Galloway Gossip.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th November 2009ce
Edited 1st April 2015ce

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