Over the Sea to the Fairies (and Skye)

Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

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.

Dun Hallin on the Isle of Skye

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:

The Trial Stone on the Isle of Skye

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.

John Bowlby's grave on the Isle of Skye

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:

Castle Euan on the Isle of Skye

But it’s Dunvegan Castle we need for fairy legends!

Dunvegan Castle, Skye

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:

Trumpan Point on Skye

Goodbye Skye! We’ll be back!

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Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'
Out Autumn 2019

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.




54 Replies to “Over the Sea to the Fairies (and Skye)”

  1. I love the fact that the “interesting rocky outcrop” turned out to be an Iron Age broch — and not just any broch — the one you had wanted to see but thought you’d not find! Great post! I enjoyed all the pictures and history. Horrible what happened at that church! Thanks for including that link. When I visited the Isle of Skye it was pouring rain and I couldn’t see a thing, so I always enjoy seeing pictures of what I missed.

  2. Enjoyable post about an area we did not venture too. Though we did spend approx 2 months there last summer, so must get around to blogging about it! It is a beautiful part of the world, much like NZ! Though not so much the weather 😉

  3. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to realise you have a blog. Too busy looking at your lovely pictures on Twitter. I love this part of the world, will try and call in more often. 🙂

  4. Love your blog and your Pinterest page because it takes me back t Scotland where I spent four very happy years of my life. I have nominated your blog for the Mystery Blog Award. Thank you for all the amazing pictures.

  5. You take beautiful photographs, absolutely lovely <3 And, as it's currently 110 degrees outside where I live…I absolutely wished I could have stepped through my screen and into one of them.

  6. Since it’s becoming increasingly doubtful I will visit Scotland, especially Skye, your blog helps to quell my longing to see it. Lovely photos. You’ve captured the charm I keep hearing about this part of the world.

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