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Strathpeffer Biography

What of the signs of burning on the fort walls? From these arose the tale of how the giants went a-hunting to Nigg accompanied by their dogs, of which Finn’s favourites were Bran and Sgeolan (pronounced Scolaing). Garry, a dwarf (only 15 feet tall), was left in charge at the fort, much to his annoyance. He gave vent to his displeasure by storming at the women, and then, going outside, stretched himself on the grass and fell asleep. The women took advantage of the opportunity to peg the plaits of his hair to the ground so effectively that when Garry awoke he nearly scalped himself in trying to pull himself free. Now in a furious temper, he barricaded the women and children indoors and burned the fortress down. From afar the warriors saw the blaze and vaulted home on their spears. They caught the fleeing Garry and offered him the choice of death. The vindictive dwarf-giant chose beheading with his neck on Finn’s knees. Needless to say the ensuing blow not only killed Garry but mortally wounded Finn. So the desolate giants, bereft of wives, offspring and leader, realised that their rule had come to an end and decided to depart. Bearing the body of the mighty Finn to the Craigiehowe Cave at the mouth of Munlochy Bay, they entered, laid down their burden reverently, arranged themselves around and fell asleep. . .

Centuries passed. Then one day a shepherd chanced on the cave and, going inside, saw before him the giants and their hounds stretched out in all their barbaric grandeur. Above the door there hung a hunting horn which he tentatively took down and put to his lips. As he blew he noted with alarm that the giants’ eyes were now open but as otherwise they did not stir he risked a second blast upon the horn. With this the giants sat up resting on their left elbows. Unnerved, the shepherd fled with the anguished cry of the only half-liberated sleepers ringing in his ears: ‘Dhuine dhon dh’fhag thu sinn na’ s moisa na fhuair thu sinn.’ (‘Wretch, you have left us worse than you found us!’) An interesting feature of this tale is that while in Irish legend Finn’s life is terminated at the ford of Brea (Bray), in the Highland Scottish version this event takes place on the hill above the Brae Fiord or, as it is now known, the Cromarty Firth.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
27th October 2022ce

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