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




Like other parts of the British Isles, but perhaps more especially the Highlands, Sutherland has its tales of the disparity between mortal and fairy time. Despite its title, Henry Bett's English Myths and Traditions (1952) includes a characteristic story set near the south-east end of Loch Shin, He writes that a man returning from Lairg sat down to rest on the Hill of Durcha, near an opening in the ground:

He heard sounds of merriment from below, and went in. He was not seen again, and another man who was in his company was accused of making away with him. He asked for a year and a day's grace, and solemnly promised he would vindicate himself by then. He watched the opening in the hillside, and finally saw his companion come out with a troop of fairies. All of them were dancing. The man who had been accused seized his friend and held him. The rescued man said peevishly, 'Why could you not let me finish the reel, Sandy?' He could not believe that he had been with the fairies for a twelvemonth until he had reached home, and seen his wife with a child in her arms a year old.

The man's holding on to his friend when he came out of the hill is not a throwaway detail it may seem: this was the traditional way to redeem someone from the fairies, used for instance by Sandy Harg of New Abbey (Dumfries & Galloway) to rescue his wife. Other stories of the supernatural lapse in time are set at Bruan Broch, Maiden Castle (Central & Perthshire), and at Tomnahurich (Southern Highlands).

The 'hill of Durcha' was clearly a fairy mound in which the fairies had their dwelling. Often these were ancient cairns, but which of the many prehistoric sites around Lairg this one may have been is open to question. As well as brochs, stone circles, hut circles, and odd mounds, the parish contains numerous cairns and chambered cairns, any one of which might qualify as a fairy dwelling.

The Lore Of Scotland - A Guide To Scottish Legends

Westwood & Kingshill
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
28th January 2024ce

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