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

Camore Wood

Standing Stone / Menhir


It seems very likely to me that the following folklore relates to this impressive sounding stone ("a large monolith of sandstone, roughly quadrangular at base, tapering to a point at its upper extremity. It is 8' 9" in height above the ground, 2' 5" across the W face at base, and 1' 10" across the N", according to the RCAHMS record).
There lived once upon a time, in Sutherland, a great dragon, very fierce and strong. It was this dragon who burnt all the fir-woods in Ross, Sutherland, and the Reay, of which the remains, charred, black and half decayed, may now be found in every moss. Magnificent forests they must have been, but the dragon set fire to them with his fiery breath, as he rolled over the whole land. Men fled from before his face, and women fainted when his shadow crossed the sky-line. He made the whole land a desert. And it came to pass, that this evil spirit, whom the people called "the Beast," and Dhu guisch (of the black firs), came nigh to Dornoch, as near as to Lochfinn, from whence he could see the town, and the spire of St. Gilbert - his church.
"Pity of you, Dornoch!" roaredthe dragon.
"Pity of you, Dornoch!" said St. Gilbert and taking with him five long and sharp arrows, and a little lad to carry them, he went out to meet the "Beast."
When he came over against it he said, "Pity of you!" and drew his bow. The first arrow shot the Beast through the heart.
He was buried by the townspeople. Men are alive now who reckoned distance by so or so far from "the stone of the Beast" on the moor between Skibo and Dornoch. The moor is now planted, and a wood called Caermore waves over the ashes of the fir-destroying dragon. - (From Alexander the Coppersmith.)
p157 in
The Folk-Lore of Sutherland-Shire
Miss Dempster
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 3. (1888), pp. 149-189.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd November 2006ce
Edited 23rd November 2006ce

Comments (4)

Fantastic, thanks Rhiannon! :-D summerlands Posted by summerlands
8th February 2011ce
Do you know the stone, are you going to visit it? It sounds suitably impressive for a big dragon. Shame he didn't have stronger scales though, it wasn't much of a fight. Or maybe it's allegorical (boo). Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
8th February 2011ce
I do know it, it's really not at all far from me :-). It's very lonesome looking in a huge field, but has lovely views out to the firth. The woods (mentioned in your text, very gloomy modern plantation) have quite a lot of settlement evidence, but I'm not sure what there is to see - although there's a lot of good detail on the digs available on the net.

Annoyingly the photo's I have of the stone are from before I got an external hard drive and I can't find the disk... It's on my list to revisit (it's on my list to paint every stone in Sutherland anyway, just how many years it will take me to do this, or if I get bored before I finish, who knows ;-)... ) but not made it yet between weather and flu.

I'm so tempted to do a painting involving your bit of folklore somehow (so thank you so much for that!) :-D

I recon anyone who needs a little bot to carry his arrows surely wasn't up to killing a dragon??! ;-)
summerlands Posted by summerlands
8th February 2011ce
Having finally been to visit today, remembering this story, I did wonder if perhaps the raised beach (from the ancient North Sea tsunami) that is a very strong feature in the immediate landscape could have been the ‘buried body of the dragon‘? The ridge goes on under the modern wood plantation - so would make sense in that respect.

I was also surprised, as I’d not noticed before, that you can clearly see Dornoch Catherdral from this spot (I thought it would be hidden in the landscape and buildings).
summerlands Posted by summerlands
27th February 2011ce
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