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Witch's Stone, Straloch (Natural Rock Feature)

According to Affleck Gray's Legends of the Cairngorms (1987) when the Comyns were Lords of Badenoch the Chief enlisted the services of the Witch of Badenoch, who for a large sum of gold agreed to transport stones to the site he had chosen to build a huge impregnable castle.

She searched for two similar huge boulders for doorposts on the outer gate and could find none in Scotland but found some with help from a sister witch on the Isle of Man. So she flew to the Isle of Man and found them without difficulty.

She listed one enormous stone and put it in her apron and set off back to Badenoch. She was passing high above Glenfernate at dawn when a deer hunter spotted her great black mass flying above him. He dropped the deer haunches he was carrying and cried out in astonishment "Dhia gleidh sinn" (God bless us).

The utterance of the holy name destroyed the witch's power and her apron strings broke, sending the great boulder rolling down to the bottom of Glenfernate where it rests to this day, known locally as Clach Mor or the Witch's Stone.

The witch could never get her apron strings to hold even the smallest boulder again, and the castle was never built. Tradition says that on the anniversary the Witch returns and works from sunset to dawn trying to move the stone, and for a long time people gave the unhallowed spot a wide berth on that particular night.

The Howe (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

"Then there is the story of a young Orphir man who spent a whole year among the fairies in the Hillock of Howe, near Stromness, and of how he danced there all that time with a jar of whisky on his shoulder. When he was finally pulled out, he complained he had not been allowed to finish his jig. It was only when he saw the uppers of his boots dangling about his ankles that he realised he had danced the soles completely off"

Source: A peculiar people and other Orkney tales by Leask (1931)
Wanderer and explorer, with a special interest in fairy lore and Northumberland folklore.

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