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Dunino Den

Sacred Well


Time travel at the Den?
Some years ago, when many of the roads in the east of Fife were still used but by few, a visitor to the district.. resolved to make a detour to visit [Dunino Church]. A somewhat rough track leads down to a bridge.. and a broad and well-made path , cut in the hillside [climbs] among the trees to the kirk and the manse. Leaving this for the moment he continued on the level track round the flank of the hill, and saw before him on thefarther side of the stream a picturesque hamlet. Some of the cottages were thatched, some tiled; but all were covered in roses and creepers.. At the east end.. a smithy closed the prospect, save for the trees that shut out the further windings of the Den.

No sound broke the stillness of the summer noon but the flow of the burn. At one or two of the doors there stood an old man in knee-breeches and broad bonnet, or a woman in a white mutch and a stuff gown, while in the entrance to the forge the smith leant motionless on his hammer... Half in a dream he turned and climbed to the church.. No sense of the abnormal had occurred to the intruder..

A year elapsed ere the wanderer came thither again.. This time he was accompanied by a companion to whom he had told the story of his glimpse of 'the most old-world hamlet in Fife'... they prepared to sketch the Arcady to be revealed. The cottages were gone. The burn flowed through the Den as when last he saw it, but its farther bank was bare...

.. The author is informed on excellent authority that there were at one time at least three or four cottages and a blacksmith's shop at the place described. It is said these were taken down "some time last century."
Edited from Wilkie's 1931 'Bygone Fife', quoted in K Briggs' 'British Folktales and Legends' (1977).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th September 2005ce

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