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

Old Man of Storr

Natural Rock Feature


"Storr is the highest point (2,360 feet) of the long ridge of mountains which form the backbone of Trotternish... At its foot stands the 'Old Man of Storr' who, unfortunately, lost his head in a very severe storm half a century ago but is still a stately and impressive pinnacle. Once, in early medieval times, when the dispute about the date of Easter reached Skye, a priest, dissatisfied with the information to his hand, desired to go to Rome and hear for himself what the Pope had to say about the proper date for Shrove Tuesday. He was a magician. At early dawn he arose and climbed the Storr Rock; there on the brink of the precipice he watched the sun rise and made certain potent spells as it appeared above the earth. These spells not only called up the Devil but transformed him into a horse. The priest leaped on to his back and away to Rome. But the Devil knows a lot about spells and he knew (and the priest knew too) that it was his right to ask what questions he would and the priest must answer them, and answer them truly; yet if the priest mentioned the name of God the magic would be undone, the Devil would vanish in a puff of brimstone and the priest would be left in the sea or in some foreign land, as it might happen. All through that mad ride the Devil propounded questions which required the name of God as an answer, and always the priest answered fully and truly but succeeded in never using the sacred name. So he reached Rome and the Pope in safety, satisfied his conscience as to the proper date to keep Shrove Tuesday, and returned in safety to Skye. How he succeeded in laying the Devil, always the most difficult part of the business, is not known, but tradition has it that the Devil was so greatly impressed by the priest's diabolical cleverness that on being bidden farewell he went quietyl, merely replying (in Gaelic): 'Till we meet again.'"

- Otta F. Swire, Skye: The Island and its Legends, 1961, pp. 39-40.

Storr is also mentioned briefly in The Modern Antiquarian:

"Natural monoliths such as the huge needle-like Pinnacles, near the legendary Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye, filled the Neolithics with a deep sense of awe, followed by an underlying determination to imitate them." (p. 113)
TomBo Posted by TomBo
30th June 2004ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment