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




One evening the Laird of Balmachie was riding home from Dundee, to see his wife who was ill in bed. It was getting dark, and he took a short cut off the road, riding across the knolls called the Cur-hills, near Carlungy. He suddenly came across a troop of fairies, who were apparently carrying a human being on a kind of litter. As he got nearer he drew his sword, and bravely demanded "In the name of God, release your captive." The fairies disappeared, and he found it was his wife they had been carrying. He put her on his horse and they rode the short distance home.

Arriving at his house, a servant hurried to attend to his wife, and he went upstairs to help prepare the bedroom. To his amazement, his wife appeared to be still in her bed, complaining away at being neglected by him. Pretending to be most concerned, the Laird told her she should sit by the fire while he had her bed changed. She claimed she couldn't get up - but he picked her up and shoved her on the fire! "She bounced like a sky-rocket, went through the ceiling, and out through the roof of the house, leaving a hole among the slates." (They could never satisfactorily fix this hole, either: once a year the mended slate would come off). His poor real wife explained that some time after sunset a multitude of elves had come in at the window, thronging like bees from a hive. They filled the room, lifted her from the bed and carried her out the window, after which point she remembered nothing until she saw her husband at the Cur-hills.

Story in Gibbings' 'Folklore and Legends, Scotland', quoted in Katherine Briggs' 'Folklore and legends of Britain'.
See (page 57).

It's interesting it should have the motif of fairies as bees - also see Twmbarlwm in Wales.

So watch it at the Cur-hills - they are only on the opposite side of the road from Carlungie. The Carlungie souterrains would seem the inspiration for a fairy story - but they were only discovered (or discovered by archaeologists, at least) during ploughing in the 1940s. So I figured there must be older tales to account for the area's strange reputation, and found this in the Statistical Accounts for the Parish of Monikie Years 1791-99
Near the 8th milestone, E. from Dundee, there is a ridge of small hills, called the Cur-hills, where within these 14 years several stone coffins have been found. In the vicinity of the same place, were found upward of 6 feet below the surface of the earth, several trees, oak, fir and birch. There were also found urns, covered with broad stones, below which were ashes, supposed to have been human bodies reduced to that state by burning. To the south of the Cur-hills were found several heads of deer, and horns of a very large size, among marl, about 9 feet below the surface.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
29th April 2005ce
Edited 24th November 2008ce

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