The burn of Invernauld, and the hill of Durcha, on the estate of Rose hall, are still believed to be haunted by fairies who once chased a man into the sea, and destroyed a new mill, because the earth for the embankment of the mill-dam had been dug from the side of the hill. The hill of Durcha is also the locality assigned for the following tale:-
A man whose wife had just been delivered of her first-born set off with a friend to the town of Tain to have the child's birth entered in the sessions-books, and to buy a cask of whiskey for the christening fete. As they returned, weary with a day's walk [..] they sat down to rest at the foot of this hill, near a large hole, from which they were ere long astonished to hear a sound of piping and dancing. The father, feeling very curious, entered the cavern, went a few steps in, and disappeared. The story of his fate sounded less improbable then than it would now, but his companion was severely animadverted* on, and when a week elapsed, and the baptism was over, and still no signs of the lost one's return, he as accused of having murdered his friend. He denied it, and again and again repeated the tale of his friend's disappearance down the cavern's mouth.
He begged a year and a day's law to vindicate himself, if possible, and used to repair at dusk to the fatal spot, and there call and pray. The term allowed him had but one more day to run, and, as usual, he sat in the gloaming by the cavern, when what seemed as his friend's shadow passed within it. He leant down, heard reel-tunes and pipes, and suddenly descried the missing man tripping merrily with the fairies. He caught him by the sleeve, stopped him, and pulled him out. "Bless me! why could you not let me finish my reel, Sandy?" cried the dancer. "Bless me!" rejoined Sandy, "have you not had enough of reeling this last twelvemonth?" "Last twelvemonth!" cried the other in amazement; nor could he believe the truth concerning himself till he found his wife sitting by the door with a yearling child in her arms. So quickly does time pass in the company of the "good people."
The Folk-Lore of Sutherland-Shire [Continued]
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 4. (1888), pp. 215-252.
*Animadvert - meaning 'To remark or comment critically, usually with strong disapproval or censure'. A new and useful word to me.