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Folklore Posts by drewbhoy

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Craig Hasten (Natural Rock Feature)

The Sithchen in stories are often seen from the entrance of there dwelling having a Ceilidh inside their knolls. Craig Hasten, a castle-like knoll to the south of the village of Baile Mòr in Paible, North Uist, is known locally as a dwelling place of fairies.

Wikipedia

(Sithchen = fairies)

Clach Mhor A'che (Standing Stone / Menhir)

One of the largest and most impressive stones is that known as Clach Mor an Che – The Big Stone of The World – which stands at the edge of the seashore. This stone stands eight feet high and is about two and a half feet across. On the first occasion that I visited the stone the sun was just setting and small waves were lapping on the seashore – an idyllic scene if ever there was one. And yet folklore has it that local miscreants were tied to the stone for their wrongdoings. Some punishment! Although it was during the summertime, the Hebridean midges, known for their ferocity, would no doubt have inflicted their own form of punishment upon the wrongdoers! Not far from the stone are the remains of a chambered cairn called Dun na Cairnach, and at least one historian has suggested that the cairn and the stone were monuments to Che, one of the seven sons of Crithne, an ancestor of the Picts who is said to have been buried there following his death in battle.

Alan Pratt, North Uist
The Celtic Planet

Beinn A' Charra (North Uist) (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Clach Bharnach Bhraodag, means ‘The Limpet Stone of Freya’. The name Freya is indicative of the strong Norse influence in the Outer Hebrides. According to Norse legend it was Freya who taught Odin a form of shamanistic magic called seidhr – and it was Odin who was able to communicate with two ravens who gave him the ability to have ‘knowledge of all things, in all places’. There is a Gaelic saying Tha Tios Fithich Agad, which means ‘you have more knowledge and understanding than is natural’. The literal translation however is ‘you have the raven’s knowledge’.

Alan Pratt, North Uist
The Celtic Planet

This chunky standing stone sits on the slope of Beinn a' Charra, just east of Committee Road, North Uist. The stone is canted at a considerable degree, about 2 metres off centre, leaning to the south. From tip to toe the stone measures 9' 3" high and is 6' 6" wide.

The alternate name Clach Barnach Bhraodac means Limpet Stone of Freya (Freya being the Norse goddess of love and beauty).

Passionate about British Heritage

Carn Liath, Kensaleyre (Chambered Cairn)

A piece of pasture land enclosed with an old dyke. the site of a bloody contest between the Macleods & Macdonalds, a large cairn situated close to the east of it is said to contain the bones of the slain. it is situated a little to the west of Kensaleyre Inn Property of Lord Macdonald It means Bloody Fold.

Revd. John Darroch & Revd A. Martin Angus MacPherson - Scotland's Places

Eyre (Standing Stones)

The most interesting feature of the Kensaleyre stones, apart from their superb location by the loch, is the story told about them in Skye folklore.

The stones are also known by their Gaelic name Sornaichean Coir' Fhinn. The name relates to an old legend that the mythical warrior Finn, or Fingal, and his band of hunters used the stones to suspend a cooking pot over a fire. The pot was so large that it held a whole deer, which Fingal used to make venison stew.

Kensaleyre Standing Stones, Skye
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR

The Paps of Jura (Sacred Hill)

John Francis Campbell’s ‘Popular Tales of the West Highlands’, concerning “the Old Woman or Witch of Jura” and her “magical powers.

There was a Caileach (old woman) in Jura who had a magic ball of thread by means of which she could draw any person or thing towards her. MacPhie (or MacDuffie) of Colonsay was in her clutches, and was not allowed to leave Jura; on several occasions he tried to escape to his native Colonsay in his boat, but always the Caileach would spot him, throw the magic ball of thread into his boat, and so bring him back to shore. Eventually MacPhie found out that the magic of the Caileach’s thread could be broken, but only if it was cut by an equally magic hatchet; thus he pretended to be content with his bondage until he found the chance to steal the Caileach’s magic hatchet, and then he made his escape from Jura in a small boat. When the Caileach noticed his absence, she rushed as usual to the top of Beinn a Chaolis, [the tallest of the Paps] and … hurled the magic ball of thread into MacPhie’s boat, but he cut it with the Caileach’s magic hatchet and made his escape. She was distraught … [and] in despair she slid down the mountain to the sea shore, pleading with MacPhie to return. But he would not, and the marks left by the old woman’s heels as she slid down Beinn a Chaolis can still be seen. They are called Sgriob na Cailich – the slide of the old woman.” The best view is from the ferry from Port Askaig to Colonsay.

Carragh Chaluim Bhainn (Standing Stone / Menhir)

One of the stones at Tarbert (presumably this one) is called "Carragh Chaluim Bhain", i.e. the standing stone of Calum the fair, almost certainly a reference to St Columba.

H C Gillies 1906

Dun Fhinn (Stone Fort / Dun)

The earliest story of Ardtalla stems from the the origins of Gaelic Scotland, featuring the semi-legendary warrior Fionn MacCumhail, (Finn McCool). Earl’s ‘Tales of Islay’ records that the great warrior’s headquarters were in Skye, but he was fond of coming to Islay to relax:
Fionn was said to be the son of an Irish father and a Norse mother. His father’s name was Cumhal and his mother’s Morna. Not only was he a hero in Ireland but his adventures were told in Scotland, especially in the west, and many place names are called after him. If the great Fionn MacCumhail was so fond of Islay and visited it so often, surely there must be some indication somewhere that this was so. At Ardtalla there is Dun Fhinn up in the hills opposite Trudernish. Even from a distance it looks quite imposing. In the same area there is what was once an ideal township, Creag Fhinn, with many interesting features. It is a fascinating place and can be reached after a short climb, though it is not so very easy to find as the old tracks leading to it have disappeared. If only it could come alive again!

Fionn grew up big and strong, good at running, swimming and leaping: in fact he was a real giant, and being the type of person he was, naturally legends grew up round about him. He had a son called Ossian. Fionn was said to have much wisdom, which he got from eating the Salmon of Knowledge, which was given to him by an old man who was fishing nearby. He was called Fionn because he was so fair, and he became the leader of the Fienne, a band of warriors renowned for their bravery and war-like deeds.

At one time the people in Islay were being harassed by the Lochlanners and appealed to Fionn to come to their aid. This Fionn did, and he and his men soon cleared Islay of the invaders. A bloody battle took place on the Big Strand called Lathan a Tunnachan, the Battle of the Staves. The warriors fought with staves or short sharp sticks which they threw at their enemy with great force. They carried supplies of these staves under their arm or in a sort of quiver, as was used to carry arrows. Fionn is said to have died in AD283, which places the battle long before the Norse occupation.

https://www.ardtallacottages.co.uk/about/ardtalla-tales/

Clachan Ceann Ile (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Her favourite theory, however, concerned a Danish Princess called Iula, or Yula, who left Denmark with an apron full of stones of different sizes. As she proceeded on her journey some of the stones fell out, one becoming Ireland, another Rathlin and a third Texa. The remainder of the stones fell out and became the string of islands from Ardbeg to Kildalton. She perished in the soft sands off that coast and was taken to Seonais Hill above Loch Cnoc and buried there. What was described in the Statistical Account of 1794 as the grave of "a daughter of one of the kings of Denmark" is marked by two small standing stones about 10 meters apart, though there is no good evidence to support this tradition. Islay is said to have got its name from this lady, or perhaps she may have taken her name from Islay.

Peggy Earl 'Tales of Islay'

Dumbarrow Hill (Stone Fort / Dun)

Anyway, some threads are so bright that they have to be picked up. This is the case with King Nechtan, whose name is perhaps found in Dunnichen (‘the fort of Nechtan’) and the English name for the battle where the Northumbrians were defeated by the Picts nearby, Nechtansmere. Before we consider which Nechtan Dunnichen is named after, there is the matter of confirming this as the place of the battle in 685 AD. To the Northumbrians the site of their national disaster was called Nechtan’s Mere, signifying the swamp or shallow lake in the shadow of Dun Nechtan. But the Welsh, who spoke a very similar language to the Picts, called the body of water Llyn Garan, the Pool of Herons. Was this the original name of the place or did it somehow have two names? (The Irish, meanwhile called it the battle of Dun Nechtan.) It would seem to cast a fragment of doubt over the identification of Dunnichen as the battle site. In fact Dunnichen was not positively identified as the place of the conflict until the connection was made by George Chalmers in his Caledonia in 1807. Chalmers pointed out that the ‘eminence’ on the south side of Dunnichen Hill, still visible in his day and known as Cashili or Castle Hill, must be the ‘fortress of Nechtan’. Chalmers also speculated that the neighbouring hill of Dumbarrow, ‘the hill of the barrow’, signifying notable burials there (Caledonia, I, 155.)

[Note also the King's Well on the east side of Dumbarrow Hill.]

Angus Folklore : In Search of King Nechtan in Angus and Elsewhere

Hill Of Dores (Hillfort)

The Castle of Dores was situated on the summit of the Hill of Dores; it is traditionally said to have been a residence of Macbeth. Great quantities of ashes have been found at various places on this hill, as well as at the site of the Castle. They are thought to be from beacon fires.

Presumably the tradition concerning a castle of Macbeth arose from this; there is no trace of a castle.

Historic Scotland

Tobar Childa (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Tobair na h-oige

An old story told in previous centuries by the indigenous folk of Hirta (St. Kilda) described a long-lost well that was thought to be an abode of the little people, known as the Well of Eternal Youth. Not to be confused with the Well of Virtues near the Amazon’s House less than a mile west, the rough whereabouts of this site is cited by J. Sands (1878) in the folklore section of his otherwise historical account on these faraway Atlantic islands. He wrote:

“Once on a time an old fellow, in going up Connagher with a sheep on his back, observed a Well which he had never seen or heard of before. The water looked like cream, and was so tempting, that he knelt down and took a hearty drink. To his surprise all the infirmities of age immediately left him, and all the vigour and activity of youth returned. He laid down the sheep to mark the spot, and ran down the hill to tell his neighbours. But when he came up again neither sheep nor well were to be found, nor has any one been able to find the Tobair na h-oige to this day. Some say that if he had left a small bit of iron at the well—a brog with a tacket in it would have done quite well—the fairies would have been unable to take back their gift.”

Mrs Banks’ Scottish Calendar Customs (1937)

A nearby but long vanished sacred well.

The Mistress Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

A group of tourists explore the 'Mistress Stone' at Ruiaval. More than 250 years earlier, Martin, described how 'every Bachelor-Wooer is by ancient Custom obliged in Honour to give a specimen of his Affection for the Love of his Mistress'.

By bowing out from the rock over the cliff while standing on one foot, the suitor was 'accounted worthy of the finest Mistress in the World'.

National Trust Of Scotland

Similar to the Lovers Stone with similar results :-)

Tobar Childa (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Macaulay, in his "History of St. Kilda" published in 1764, describes a spring there called by the inhabitants Toberi-Clerich, the cleric in question being, according to him, Columba. "This welI," he says, "is below the village, . . . and gushes out like a torrent from the face of a rock. At every full tide the sea overflows it, but how soon that ebbs away, nothing can be fresher or sweeter than the water. It was natural enough for the St. Kildians to imagine that so extraordinary a phenomenon must have been the effect of some supernatural cause, and one of their teachers would have probably assured them that Columba, the great saint of their island and a mighty worker of miracles, had destroyed the influence which, according to the established laws of nature, the sea should have had on that water," This spring resembles one in the parish of Tain, in Ross-shire, known as St. Mary's Well. The latter is covered several hours each day by the sea, but when the tide retires its fresh, sweet water gushes forth again.

MacAulay The History of St Kilda 1764

The Milking Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

The Milking Stone is where the St Kildans used to pour milk for the 'gruagach', either on Sundays or after the first milking in spring, when they heard the fairies under the stone rattling their spoons.

Information from RCAHMS (ARG) 6 June 2008

The Standing Stones of Stenness (Circle henge)

Tales From Eynhallow by Thelma Nicol

STANDING STONES

Mammy! Mammy!” Whut wey did that big stones git there?” Peedie Davo tugged at his mother’s sleeve. His mother was tired of Davo’s never ending questions about the great pieces of stone that formed the familiar landscape by the Loch of Stenness she promised, that if he was good she would tell him at bedtime, hoping that by that time he would have forgotten. She had not reckoned with peedie Davo’s determination to get an answer to his question.

“You promised Mammy,” he whispered as she tucked him up in bed. “Whut wey did they git there?” His mother shook her head and sat down wearily on the stool by his bedside. “Weel,” she began, “hid wis a long time ago and I canna mind the rights o’ hid bit hid wis afore the Norsemen cam tae Orkney, so they must be thoosands o’ years ould.”

“Oulder than Grandad?” Davo enquired, looking across the lobby where his Grandfather drowsed by the fire in the kitchen.

“Oh yass, far oulder than Grandad. There wisna many folk bade in Orkney at the time. All the folk lived doon sooth thoo see’s. They say that t he standing stones reach doon intae the grund twice as far as they stand abune hid .”

“Whut wey did they git doon there then I winder?” Peedie Davo’s enquiry into the origin of the Standing Stones of Stenness was proving to be more of a problem than his mother had ever imagined.

“Well,” she struggled on, “shut thee eyes like a good boy noo, and I’ll tell thee.” With fingers crossed that he would soon fall asleep she began. “Hid wis a midsummer’s night . The day hid been hot an quiet, not the usual breezy kind o’ wither that we usually hiv in June. The sky wis somet imes owercast and a rumble o’ thunder cam fae the direction o’ Hoy. There wis great flashes o’ lightning. A’ the birds wir quiet and the twa three folk that lived aboot hands wir huddled taegither. The bairns were a sleepan snug and warm under thir sealskin blankets.”

Peedie Davo’s mother paused and glanced hopefully at her small son. “Did the thunder come again Mammy?” he asked.?

“Oh yass,” she answered. “More thunder and rain like they have niver seen the like o’ afore or since. Suddenly there wis a great flash o’ lightning and the grund roond aboot Stenness wis thrown up like hid wis an earthquake. Some o’ the big stones landed upright and the grund fell back and filled up the holes except whar the Loch is noo. It filled up wae the rain water and so there’s been a loch there ever since and nobody’s ever bothered tae shift the stones so they are still there too. The twa three folk that hid lived in Stenness at that time wir thrown up in the air bit they landed in Stromness and decided to stay there. And that‘s the weyt here’s more folk in Stromness than in Stenness.”

There was a gentle snore from the bed and a sigh from peedie Davo’s mother as she whispered: “Whit a lot o’ lees thee mither tells thee Davo. Bit the truth is she disno ken whut wey the stones cam tae be there and nither dis anybody else. Goodnight Davo!”

Broch of Gurness

Broch Of Gurness by Thelma Nicol

from the Tales Of Eynhallow

I wandered round these ancient ruins,
With thoughts so far away,
I thought of hallowed customs,
When people here did stay.

And then I touched some weathered stones,
Someone had built with care,
Fashioned with an artist's touch,
Although no tools were there.

A hollowed stone where once a maid,
Had ground the corn for bread,
Blackened stones upon the floor,
Say: "Here a fire was laid".

Some skins spread on the floor, perhaps,
To keep the small room warm,
And in this ancient home, no doubt,
Children too were born.

A thousand years ago or more,
These warriors hunted deer,
And fashioned with their work worn hands,
Bead and bowl and spear.

Perhaps a thousand years from now,
Someone will wander round,
The ruins of our modern homes,
All scattered on the ground.

Will some machine-made cooking pot,
Or factory-fashioned cup,
Remain a thousand years somewhere,
For someone to pick up?

Kenshot Hill (Cairn(s))

The Sheriff's Kettle

Here (Kenshot Hill) in 1420 the gruesome murder of Sheriff Of The Mearns, John Melville, took place. Landowners complained frequently about the sheriff's tiresome behaviour. One day, during a hunting party they murdered the sheriff, boiling his body and each sipping a spoonful of the brew.

Turbine Noticeboard, Mearns.

Duntulm (Stone Fort / Dun)

Slide No: 30 Duntulm Castle

Nine miles from Uig is Duntulm Castle, and one way it leads over a long slope of land called "the garden of Skye". On the verge of Loch Snizort the stack of Scudburgh is seen standing like a lighthouse. Duntulm Castle, originally the site of a "dun", once was the stronghold of pirate Norsemen, anterior to the Norwegian invasion of Harold Harfager. It is a considerable ruin perched upon a precipitous cliff, and still has an imposing look. The castle built by the chiefs of Clan Donnel in the twelfth century, remained the home of the MacDonalds till they moved to Mugstadt. "Big Donald with the blue eyes", Lord Of The Isles and grandson of Donald Gorm, who lost his life besieging Eilan Donan Castle in Loch Duich, at one time starved a kinsman to death in the dungeon of Duntulm. This kinsman having conspired against his uncle, wrote to an accomplice in Skye, and by the same opportunity sent a friendly letter to Donald Gorm, but in transmit the letters passed into the hands of one who could not read, and this person handed to Donald Gorm the one that revealed his nephew's treachery. He was immediately captured, carried to Skye, and immured in Duntulm; there he was starved to death, after first being supplied a meal of salt food, and daily after this to mock his thirst, a covered drinking cup was lowered to him, which on being uncovered, was found empty.

Destination St Kilda 'From Oban to Skye and The Outer Hebrides'

George Washington Wilson and Norman Macleod

Edited by Mark Butterworth
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Still doing the music, following that team and getting lost in the hills! (Some Simple Minds, Glasvegas, Athlete, George Harrison, Empire Of The Sun, Nazareth on the headphones, good boots and sticks, away I go!)

(The Delerium Trees)

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