The Isle of Skye. That’s the Old Man of Storr in the hills above, a beautiful rock formation visible for miles around. The island is a place of fairies: there’s a castle and a glen and a bridge… but first, back to another rock formation, specifically the one spied from the bedroom window of our holiday house.
‘That’s an interesting rocky outcrop,’ said I to husband.
‘Aye, we should walk up to it,’ he replied.
So we did.
And there was Dun Hallin, an Iron Age broch we had intended visiting but thought would be hard to find. Duns, or brochs, were a complex form of roundhouse, probably defensive, precursors to castles.
I loved Dun Hallin and the surprise of finding it like that. And the wonderful views of Trumpan Point.
Trumpan Kirkyard held surprise too. An ancient standing stone, Clach Deuchainn, the Trial Stone:
Trial stones were used to try a person. In this case if the accused could put their finger in the hole located on the stone while blindfold they were innocent. The stone is undoubtedly far older than this use; it is also known as the Priest Stone and the Heaven Stone.
There were some interesting graves too; these, and the gruesome history of the church can be read about here.
But back to the fairies. Firstly the Fairy Glen, an unusual land formation, which sadly does not have any old fairy folklore associated with it but it does feel otherworldly when you walk round it.
The rocky peak is known as Castle Ewen:
But it’s Dunvegan Castle we need for fairy legends!
Displayed inside the castle, so no photos, is the ancient and tattered Fairy Flag. There are many stories and traditions surrounding this relic and its origins. The tale favoured in the information provided to visitors is the one in which the Chief of Clan Macleod marries a fairy. The couple have a child together but the fairy knows she has to return to her people in Fairyland. She leaves the magical flag, imbued with protective powers, wrapped round the baby, and this she does a few miles away at the Fairy Bridge:
There are also Fairy Pools on Skye but we did not get to them this trip. We did manage a quick visit to Kilt Rock:
We also took in the Museum of Island Life, one of the few places on the island with good mobile internet which meant I was distracted by a sudden barrage of Twitter notifications!
Near to the museum is the memorial to Flora MacDonald:
One more fairy mention: the house we stayed in was previously owned by the writer Aileen P. Roberts, and full of books, so I read her novella Fairy Fire while there which was set in Skye and surprising and perfect.
The sun rises over Dun Hallin:
And sets at Trumpan Point:
Goodbye Skye! We’ll be back!
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Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.