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Folklore Posts by wideford

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Showing 1-20 of 27 folklore posts. Most recent first | Next 20

Stone Lud (Bower) (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Down in Caithness a story was told of the St Magnus turning a dragon into the Sten Hone. Another tradition gives this as the grave of Earl Liot(us), like Magnus an Earl of Caithness and Orkney [Ljot Thorfinnsson killed by Macbeth].

Ladykirk Stone (Carving)

Stone Hone, ND25NW 13 at ND24265736, by tradition is the grave of an Earl Liot(us) of Caithness and Orkney [Ljot Thorfinnsson].

The Standing Stones of Stenness (Circle henge)

William Wilson was told in the 1840s that the stones had been moved here by the mytes [sic]. He believed these to be spirits, and I think mytes is a reference to the bible's "Mighty that were of old" in the plural.

Knowes of Lingro (Round Barrow(s))

Traditionally one of the resting places of St.Magnus body was near the old house of Lingro

Knowe of Crustan (Round Barrow(s))

Traditionally the last resting place of St.Magnus body on the way from Egilsay to Birsay was on the Crustan ridge - Crustan appears to mean 'cross stone', so another Corse)

Clach-na-Cudainn (Rocking Stone)

A seer declared from this seat that Inverness would be safe as long as they had this stone, which survived an assault on the town by Donald of the Isles. After Bannockburn a Highlander was hanged from an apple tree in the neighbourhood. Latterly women coming up with river water would rest their stoops on it.

Long Cairn

In 1890 this hilllock was supposed the final resting place of a woman from about 150 years previous, who spent her years looking for the husband lost in a fight between Orcadians and Danes


Here in Orkney there are/were quite a few of what Gregor Lamb terms finger stones. These were generally thrown by giants. In Eday there was one above Farahouse. Rousay had one where folk would lay a stone in passing. The Finger Steen or Byasteen is, or was, on a cliff near Wasbister shore. On Mainland, in Evie, is one of Cubbie Roo's failed shots on Hoy. Cubbie Roo's Stone in the Dale of Woodwick had several holes caused by his fingers. Also called Cobbie or Cubbie Roo's Stone, it is shown on the 1882 map at HY36712306, between South Kews and the Styes of Aikerness mound (but to their east). In Stenness a huge broken up stone near Breckan /Millquoy was thrown by Hugboy from Hoy. Another put from Hoy again dropped short, landing at Ruff/Gruf Hill in Orphir - the Giant's Stone had the mark of his thumbprint. Over in Firth near main road north of Redland Farm, on the north side of Brae of Muckquoy, a pair of stones thrown from Gairsay to Estaben landed. One was triangular ~6'x2'x9" and the other 4'x4'x2', the with 'fingermarks' being on the latter. In Sanday a stone with the devil's fingermarks is built into Lady parish church.

They didn't always leave their idents behind. A natural boulder called the Giant's Stone, 8' x 6' x 2½', was thrown from the standing stone of Stembister (HY50SW 6 at HY54130239, moved to there from the fast-eroding cliff-edge) in St.Andrew's parish. It landed on the very edge of Copinsay, at the highest point of the cliffs around that island a few yards from brink. Over in Rousay Cubbierow/ Kubbie Row's Stone/ Cubbie Roo's Stone was thrown from Fitty Hill on Westray to Lyra in the region of Frotoft, somewhere above Mt. Pleasant but below Keirfea hill. Which is still a large area to search. On Shapinsay Mor Stein/ Mör Steen (HY51NW 1 at HY52401685), thrown from Mull Head in Deerness, was called the Moow Stane after a giant who left his imprint.

On holier ground, down at the end of South Ronaldsay there is the Ladykirk Stone, first ascribed to a monster turned to stone for saving an anonymous Gallus 'priest' after a shipwreck. Only sometime before 1690 did it gain the name St.Magnus Boat, from a tale originally told of a standing stone (in the present-day only a pile of rubble) on the Scottish mainland called Sten Hone. The Ladykirk Stone's two 10" long 1" deep depressions are likelier feet than anything boat related. In 1701 the stone was either six foot by four or four by two, now this oval beach 'pebble' is 3'8" long by 2'10" long - so are we missing umnntioned salient detail since lost ? The worthy is said to have built the St.Mary church on an old temple - not the present kirk but a grassy mound on the banks of the now drained Loch of Burwick.

Associated with the Knights of Stove legend is the King's Stone in Sandwick. 3' 6" x 2' 3" it is said to have gained its name from what were described as carvings representing the word king. Originally in the meadows of Stove this was later incorporated into the foundation of a water mill which was then built into the corner of barn in same place. Alas, this is now harled over. In "Orcadiana" Gregor Lamb puts a case for the Faal Stane o'How being another king's stone. In Orkney the local legends chiefs were called kings e.g. the king of the Brough Borwick warred with the righ of Verran, Voyatown.
In Kirkwall there was formerly a White Stone opposite the pulpit in St.Magnus Cathedral where folk went to repent. If not some prehistoric artefact it must surely have been connected with the saint's cult in some way.

Knowe of Buckquoy (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

This is one of 2 possible locations for a site of witch-burning in Birsay

Yetnessteen (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Has the same habit as the Wheebin Stone of taking a drink from a loch in the wee hours of New Year's Day.

Broch of Borwick

The King of the Brough of Borwick fought with the King of Verran, Voyatown [northern edge of Stenness Loch] on the hillslope called Bluntland (which subsequently became East Giron), and when this land was first broken up many slewchan stones [big slingshot] were found.

Comet Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Old men used to raise their bonnets whenever they passed this stone. The alternative name translates as 'oil stone', which would be to do with some lost ceremony greater than a tip of the cap.

Maeshowe (Chambered Tomb)

In 1888 Geo.Marwick recalls when a boy being told by an old gentleman that after sunset on a full moon the able-bodied married women would take a 'caisy' of ashes and earth, which being dumped on the top or sides of "Mae-howe" would stengthen the mound to keep the bad folk in. And to show their contempt they would also leave their excrement there !

Linnahowe (Artificial Mound)

Marwick ("The Orkney Herald" 11/7/1888), rather fancifully, in my opinion, asserts that Linahowe means "the goddess of love and marriage". He records that local tradition says the Church of Rome sent a priest called Mohr to the Bay of Skaill to convert the pagans, and that he set up a church near by Linahowe.

Ring of Bookan (Henge)

Marwick records the tradition ("The Orkney Herald" 11/7/1888) that folk went to the Bookan farmhouse for "the road and perhaps the order of the [pre-marital and marital] services" (Orkney Norn for the former service being 'buikin').

Dingieshowe (Broch)

The trows/trolls meet here on Midsummer's Eve - and over by Newark Bay about a-mile-and-a-half as the crow flies is Trowietown (not far from the burnt mounds etc. of HY50SE 2).

Bowerman's Nose (Natural Rock Feature)

The stones of Hound's Tor are meant to be the Bowerman's hunting hounds.

Konger's Knowe (Round Barrow(s))

Sometime in the early or middle nineteenth century a Mr.Fortescue of Swanbister wished to dig it but was warned by a James Flett in Lerquoy not to excavate the "old landmark". Which is why it remains and possibly how it came to be forgotten - it is not certain whether Johnston refers to having seen it himself.

Via Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

According to local tradition mortal remains from the Stones of Via were re-interred here.

Stones of Via (Burial Chamber)

Local tradition says bodies or bones from the Stones of Via were re-interred at the barrow (HY258401609) you see by the roadside.
Showing 1-20 of 27 folklore posts. Most recent first | Next 20
Unemployed and so plenty of spare time for researching contributors' questions and queries and for making corrections. Antiquarian and naturalist. Mode of transport shanks's pony. Talent unnecessary endurance. I love brochs.

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