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North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist


This folklore refers to South Uist, and is from Martin's 'Description of the Western Isles of Scotland' (a tour which he undertook in 1695). It's a shame but I cannot work out where Gleann 'Slyte' must be.
There are several big cairns of stone on the east side this island, and the vulgar retain the ancient custom of making a religious tour round them on Sundays and holidays.

There is a valley between two mountains on the east side called Glenslyte, which affords good pasturage. The natives who farm it come thither with their cattle in the summer time, and are possessed with a firm belief that this valley is haunted by spirits, who by the inhabitants are called the great men; and that whatsoever man or woman enters the valley without making first an entire resignation of themselves to the conduct of the great men will infallibly grow mad. The words by which he or she gives up himself to these men's conduct are comprehended in three sentences, wherein the glen is twice named, to which they add that it is inhabited by these great men, and that such as enter depend on their protection.

I told the natives that this was a piece of silly credulity as ever was imposed upon the most ignorant ages, and that their imaginary protectors deserved no such invocation. They answered that there had happened a late instance of a woman who went into that glen without resigning herself to the conduct of these men, and immediately after she became mad, which confirmed them in their unreasonable fancy.
The book is on line at the Appin Regiment site, here:
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st October 2007ce
Edited 21st October 2007ce

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