Author Topic: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends  (Read 79411 times)

Donna

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2008, 11:59:38 PM »
Hey Stu,
This is great stuff! I appreciate all the time you devote to the Legends, stories, and poems... not to mention the jokes!

Thanks!

Donna
ANY DAY ABOVE GROUND IS A GOOD DAY !

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2008, 10:34:53 AM »


The Magic Herring

There is an interesting legend told of the device by
which shoals of herring were first induced to come into
Loch Broom. It seems that long ago the lochs round the island of Lewis were invariably, at the herring season, visited by magnificent shoals of fish, while not a tail was ever seen to twinkle in the spacious waters of Loch Broom. Abundance on one side of the Minch, destitution (for no earthly or apparent reason) on the other! After mature consideration, the dwellers by Loch Broom came to the conclusion that the anomaly could only be explained by the malignant operation of the Lews witches.

Query : How best neutralise the spells of these witches? A remedy, both unique and effective, was at length devised. A silver herring was made and given into the hands of a sturdy crew, who set sail with it over the water to Lewis. On arriving there, the men partook of an adequate amount of refreshment, let down the silver fish (attached to a cord) among the jostling shoals in one of the lochs, and then, with the metallic animal trailing in the sea behind them, they turned the prow of the boat in the direction of home.

The ruse was successful beyond all belief: glimmering clouds of phosphorence followed through the seas below in the wake of the boat and its silver lure. Under the stars of night, in all the rapture of excitement and success, the Loch Broom fishers led the droves of herring right up to the farthest reach of their loch. The metallic herring was then allowed to sink to the bottom : there it remains, and so long as it is there, an abundant harvest of the deep will be the portion of the resourceful toilers of these shores. Perhaps I ought to mention that the famous boat which did the feat was painted black on one side and red on the other.

The prosperity of Ullapool is not as high as it was. Can it be that the Lews witches are at their old tricks again? Or has the silver herring been borne, by the wash of retreating surges, out into the Hebridean deep?

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Barbara

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2008, 10:04:40 PM »
Thank you Stu for the jokes, poems, myths and legends.  I do enjoy them.

Barbara
"Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2008, 08:05:04 AM »
I had always thought of the Banshee as being Irish but apparently they also inhabited the Highlands...

The Banshee
from "Faerie tales and Folklore of the Scottish Highlands" by Muireall Donald


Perhaps the best known Highland fairy is the banshee. This word is a Gaelic one which means ‘fairy woman’. She is usually seen beside a burn or river washing the bloodstained clothes of those about to die. She is an omen of evil but if anyone who sees her before she sees him gets between her and the water, she may grant him three wishes. She will answer three questions but she asks three questions that must be answered truly. It is said that the Banshee are the ghosts of women who have died in childbirth and must perform their washing task until the natural destined time of their death comes. But the banshees are known for other things besides washing death shrouds.

In a fairy tale called The Banshee and the Kettle, the wraith came every night to the house of a Highland woman who respected the fairies. Each night, the banshee would take away the kettle with its remnant of soup, which hung over the hearth. The good wife did not begrudge the food to the fairies, however she always repeated a charm over the kettle when her family was through eating. The next morning, the kettle would be hanging in its customary place, full of magical meat scraps for the next meal. The farmer husband of the good wife enjoyed this bounty, for it meant his own cattle could grow fat for market day. One day the good wife had to journey to the town. She left instructions for her husband to stir the pot, recite the charm, and to respectfully allow the banshee entrance to the house.

Unlike my husband, this man was not much interested in kitchen affairs. When the banshee came screeching at the door, the farmer ran screaming out the window, forgetting rhyme and reason in his haste to get away from the death head. Offended at his lack of respect, the banshee took the kettle anyway, muttering under her breath at the ill reception he had given her. When his wife returned home, she found her hearth bare and her soup spilled over the stones. She went straightaway to the fairy brogh (hill) nearby and bending over to peer inside the entrance, she found her kettle. She picked it up and started home. But two large black dogs followed her, snapping and growling at her heels. One by one, the good wife took the meat scraps from out the kettle and threw them to the fairy dogs. By the time she returned home, the kettle was empty. Never again did the banshee return and from that day on, the inhospitable farmer was forced to slaughter his own cattle to make soup meat.

 

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Donna

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2008, 10:57:33 AM »
Hey Stu,
I love reading the stories you post!

Donna
ANY DAY ABOVE GROUND IS A GOOD DAY !

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2008, 12:51:59 PM »
The odd tale of Alexander Jones...

ALEXANDER JONES.
"JEAN, sit a wee bit east," requested the town-clerk, between the puffs of his pipe, as he sat on the corner of the bench before his fire one chilly evening. "You're taking ower muckle room, and mair than your share o' the settle."

But Jean, his wife, had just got her knitting into a nasty tangle, and was not in the best of humours, so declined to move one inch, or to attend to what her husband was saying.

"Jean," said her husband again, "sit a wee bit east; it's no decent to sit sae selfish. Sit a bit east, d'ye hear?" and the town-clerk gave his wife a rude shove to her end of the bench.

"Wha' d'ye mean by that? and wha' d'ye mean by east?" cried his wife. "There's nae sic thing as east to begin with, and--"

"Nae sic thing as east?" shouted the town-clerk. "Will ye no' believe the sun himself?" and then in a loud voice he declaimed that, as the sun went round the earth every day, and was always rising every moment somewhere in the east, which thing he hoped no one was fool enough to deny, everywhere was the east, all over the place; and if there was anything ridiculous, it was to talk about west. If everywhere was east, there was nowhere where west could be. So he hoped his wife would not make a goose of herself, and talk nonsense.

But then his wife got up and said he did not look at it in the right way at all. On the contrary, the sun was all the day setting somewhere in the west, which thing she hoped no one was fool enough to contradict; and as he was always setting somewhere, and doing it every moment, everywhere was west, and if everywhere was west, there was no room for east to be anywhere. So she trusted her husband would not make an ass of himself, and mention east again.

But he shook his head, just like a dog that has been bitten behind the ear, and was going to reply, when she kilted her petticoats, and ran round the room in one direction to show how it was done, crying, "West, west, west!"

This made the town-clerk very angry, and he got tip also, and hitched his trousers, and ran round the table in the opposite direction, yelling out, "East, east, east!" to show how he thought it was done.

Yet it only ended by their getting very giddy, and banging their heads together, a thing which hurt very much, and did not conduce to good-temper or the solving of the difficulty, you may be sure.

But Alexander Jones sat quiet in the corner, and said nothing.

Still, they agreed in one thing, namely, that the question was of too deep importance to rest there. So they went to the grocer, who had a good-sized house up the street, and told him all about the thing, with the ins and outs of the question; and the grocer and the grocer's wife, and the grocer's maiden aunt by marriage on the mother's side, and the grocer's wife's youngest married sister, and the grocer's wife's youngest married sister's little girl, were all naturally much interested, to say the least. But one took one view, and another took another, and they ran round the table, some this way and some that, to explain how in their opinion it was done. It only ended in their getting very giddy and banging their heads together, a thing which hurt, and did not conduce to good-temper or the solving of the difficulty, you may be sure.

But Alexander Jones sat quiet in the corner all the time, and said nothing.

Still, they agreed in one thing, that the question. was of too deep importance to rest there. So the whole lot went to the innkeeper, who had a much larger house than the grocer, down the street, and told him all about the thing, with the ins and outs of the matter; and the innkeeper, and the innkeeper's wife, and the innkeeper's maiden a-Lint by marriage on the mother's side, and the innkeeper's wife's youngest married sister, and the innkeeper's youngest married sister's little girl, were all naturally much interested, to say the least. But one took one view, and another took another, and they ran round the table, some this way and some that, to explain how in their opinion it was done. And it only ended by their all getting very giddy and banging their heads together, a thing which hurt, and did not conduce to good-temper or the solving of the difficulty, you may be sure.

But Alexander Jones sat all the time quiet in the corner, and said nothing.

Still, they agreed in one thing., that the question was of too deep importance to rest there. So the whole lot went to the chief magistrate, who had the very largest house in the burgh, in the middle of the street by the market-place, and they told him all about the thing, and the ins and outs of the matter; and the magistrate, and the magistrate's wife, and the magistrate's maiden aunt by marriage on the mother's side, and the magistrate's wife's youngest married sister, and the magistrate's wife's youngest married sister's little girl, were all naturally much interested in the matter, to say the least. But one took one view, and another took another, and they ran round the magistrate's table, some this way and some that, to explain how in their opinion it was done; and it only ended by their all getting very giddy and banging their heads together, a thing which hurt, and did not conduce to good-temper or the solving of the difficulty, you may be sure.

But Alexander Jones sat quiet in the corner, and said nothing.

Still, they agreed in one thing, that the question was of too deep importance to rest there. So the magistrate called a meeting of the whole populace in the town-hall.

And when the populace came to the town-hall, the chief magistrate told them all about it, and the ins and outs of the matter; and the populace, and the populace's wife, and the populace's maiden aunt by marriage on the mother's side, and the populace's wife's youngest married sister, and the populace's wife's youngest married sister's little girl, were all naturally much interested, to say the least. But one took one view, and another took another.

And they all wanted then to run round a table to explain how each thought it was done; but here a difficulty arose, for, alas! there was no table in the town-hall to run round, and what then were they to do? Yet they were not going to be balked for a trifle like that, not they? So they requested the chief magistrate to stand in the middle, and let them all run round him in the direction it pleased them.

But the chief magistrate objected strongly, for he said it would make him worse than giddy to see some folk going one way round him and some going the other; indeed, it would be certain to make him sick. So he suggested instead that Alexander Jones should be placed in the middle. Yes, why could they not run round him? Better make use of him, he was so stupid, and said nothing; besides, the chief magistrate wanted to run round with the best of them himself, and why should he be cut out more than any one else?

"No, no," cried they all. "Alexander Jones is too small, and would be certain to be trod upon." It would not do at all, and the chief magistrate must really do what he was asked. Hadn't they, only the other day, given him an imitation gold badge to wear on his stom-----well, never mind--and he must do something for them in return, or they'd take it away, that they would.

So the poor man had to give in, but he insisted upon having his eyes bandaged, and also on having a good chair to sit in, otherwise he knew he would be sick; of that he felt certain.

Then they bandaged his eyes with an old dishclout they got from somewhere; for a handkerchief would not go round his face, he had such a very big nose; and, having seated him in a chair, they all ran round him in a circle, some this way, some another; but they all only got very giddy and banged each other's heads, a thing which hurt, and did not conduce to good-temper or to the solving of the difficulty; and, worse than all, just at the end, when they could run no longer, and were quite out of breath, Eliza M'Diarmed, the fat widow who kept the confectionery-shop fell plump against the chief magistrate, and sent him and his chair flying all along the floor.

But Alexander Jones sat quiet in the corner, and said nothing.

Then the chief magistrate pulled the bandage off his eyes in a towering passion, and said something must and should be settled there and then. No, he would stand it no longer. He threatened, also, if they did not agree, he would put a tax on buttons; which was rather clever of him, for you see, both sexes would feel that tax equally, and he, inasmuch as his robes were all fastened by a buckle at his neck, and a jewelled girdle round his stom----well, never mind--it would not affect him at all.

At this the town-clerk rose, and said they must, in that case, devise some other way of discovering the answer to this terrible riddle, and he proposed to call in from the street Peter the road-man, for he was up and about at all hours, late and early, and would know more than most about the sun's movements; only, if they asked him, they must ask also his one-eyed sister, Jessica--she, you must know, took in the chief magistrate's washing, and so was a person of importance in the burgh--for Peter would certainly decline to come in unless she came with him.

Now this was, indeed, most provoking for me. Because, you see, there was not another square inch of room left in the town-hall for another person, and two people would have to go out to let Peter the road-man and his sister Jessica come in.

So they turned me out for one, as being a stranger from the country, only asked there in courtesy; and Alexander Jones for the other, because he was so stupid, and said nothing.

Thus, you see, I never knew what decision the meeting came to, though I am certain it did come to some, as next morning people's clothes were still worn as usual, and buttons were at the same price in the shops as before.

And, though disappointed greatly for my own sake, I am still more for yours, my friends, who I must say have listened to this long story most patiently.

But why was Alexander Jones so stupid as to sit still in the corner and say nothing?

Oh! hush, hush now! how silly you are! Why, how on earth could he do anything else?

Alexander Jones was the town-clerk's TOM CAT.

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2008, 07:42:59 AM »
The Story of Puirt a Beul

Once in the Land Under Wave there lived a king who had a daughter of great beauty. The king was loved by all his people but this was nothing compared to the love they had for the Princess who inspired them so. Her presence made a glow under the sea like the glow of the sun. She had a most beautiful singing voice, far beyond any music that came from any of the musicians' instruments, skilled as they were in that land.

She had many suitors, but none interested her until the Prince of Lochlann arrived, wooed her and won her love. When the day of the wedding was fixed there was both rejoicing and sorrow on the people, for she was going away to leave them.

The Princess was full of joy, and she opened her lips to sing. The tunes she sang had no words to them, they were tunes of the music known as Puirt a Beul - Mouth Music. They woke all the echoes in the Land under Wave and they woke all the courtiers, who began to dance. The fishes began to leap for joy and even the birds above the waves skimmed the surface of the waters, listening to that joyous music. Then they soared high into the sunshine, for they too had heard the magic music of the daughter of the king of the Land Under Wave. The echoes carried her music far, far away, and spread it as the ripples spread on the surface of a still pool into which a pebble has been dropped.

Away in Western Argyll there lived a fierce old giant named Fionn, who that morning was sitting by a loch, washing his feet. The echoes of that joyous sound reached him from the Land under Wave, and he lifted his head to listen. He grunted and growled, but in spite of himself his feet began twitching in the water in time to the music. Then he rose up and his whole body began to dance and sway, and the waves rose high with his swaying and broke on the island shores. Then Fionn, the fierce giant, danced as no-one had ever dreamed he would, and jumped, laughing, until one great leap took him right over the Cuillins of Skye. And still the king's daughter sang.

Next Fionn leapt over the Cuillins of Rhum and landed in "Cuan Siar," the Western sea, in a spot to this day called "the spot where Fionn washed his feet". And still the king's daughter went on singing, and Fionn continued to dance, but now he was beginning to grow tired. Evening fell and he was dancing feebly now, so that by night time the great giant Fionn collapsed, lay down in the sea and was drowned.

And there was great rejoicing all through the isles, for Fionn had harassed them for so long.

And since that time the islanders have kept the memory of the wonderful singing of the daughter of the king of the Land Under Wave.


 
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Barbara

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2008, 09:32:25 PM »
That was a lovely story Stu. Thank you, I love these tales of old.

Barbara
"Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2008, 09:34:03 AM »
The Legend of the Brahan Seer

Most of what we know about the Brahan Seer derives from the oral tradition of the Gael. According to one source Kenneth Mackenzie (also known as Coinneach Odhar, dun-coloured Kenneth) was born in Baile - na - Gille in Uig on the Isle of Lewis about 1650. He lived at Loch Ussie near Dingwall in Ross-shire and worked as a labourer from about 1675 on the Brahan estate, seat of the Seaforth chieftains.

The first literary reference to him comes in Pennant's "A Tour in Scotland" (1769). "Every country has its prophets... and the Highlands their Kenneth Odhar."

The only historical reference so far uncovered exists in the form of two Commissions of Justice, ordering the Ross-shire authorities to prosecute a certain Keanoch Owir for witchcraft (1577).

This reference places him 100 years before the traditional tales (and the time of the third Earl of Seaforth) so cannot be attributed to the same man. This is the first of many mysteries surrounding the Brahan Seer. Of his many predictions handed down by word of mouth, some remain unfulfilled, others doubtfully or partly so. But some have come to pass wholly and convincingly.
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Strathpeffer
The Seer predicted that "Crowds of pleasure and health seekers shall be seen thronging its portals." The popularity of Strathpeffer as a Spa resort reached its height in the Victorian era. In the 1960's the Beatles came to Dingwall, but there was a larger audience for the band playing in the Strathpeffer Pavilion, with people coming from as far as Elgin. The Ross-shire Journal recorded Strathpeffer as being a boom-town with the shops open until 11.00 p.m.!
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The Eagle Stone
Through the centuries this stone has gathered a host of legends. It was said to have been put up by the Munros after a battle with the Mackenzies and is inscribed with their crest, the Eagle, in memory of the slain. It is now thought to be of far greater antiquity, inscribed with Pictish symbols similar to the stone that stands in the St Clement's churchyard in Dingwall.
 
The Seer said that if the stone fell down three times Loch Ussie would flood the valley below so that ships could sail to Strathpeffer. It has already fallen twice, and is now concreted to ensure stability.
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Loch Ussie
Legend has it that the Brahan Seer lived near Loch Ussie; where he was apprehended. Before being taken to Fortrose on the Black Isle to be tried for witchcraft, he threw his oracle stone into the loch and said it would one day be found in the belly of a fish. So far as is known it has not yet turned up.
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Brahan Castle
The Brahan estate, where the Seer worked as a labourer for the Third Earl of Seaforth is central to his final and most famous prophecies about the extinction of the Seaforth line.
 
The gardens at Brahan are open to the public in June when the rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best. Brahan Castle itself was demolished in 1951 but the foundations can be clearly seen in front of the present Brahan House. The Seer predicted that "No future chief of the Mackenzies shall bear rule at Brahan or Kintail." The 14 000 acre estate of Kintail is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
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Kilcoy Castle
Kilcoy Castle belonged to the Mackenzies for nearly 300 years until 1813. The Seer predicted that "The stern castle of Kilcoy shall stand cold and empty"; which it did for more than 100 years until its restoration. The gardens are open to the public in summer.
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Fairburn Tower
Fairburn Tower stands high on a ridge between the Orrin and Conon river valleys and dates from the 16th century. The Seer prophesied remarkable things about the Mackenzies of Fairburn and the Tower. "The day will come when the Mackenzies of Fairburn shall lose their entire possessions; their castle will become uninhabited and a cow shall give birth to a calf in the uppermost chamber of the tower."

The castle eventually became a ruin and in 1851, when a cow calved in the garret, it was being used by a farmer to store hay. The prophecy was so well known that people came via railway to Strathpeffer or Muir-of-Ord and then by coach to see the cow. She had gone up the tower following a trail of hay, had a good feed at the top and became stuck. She gave birth to a fine calf and both were taken down some five days later, allowing enough time for the incredulous to come and see the prophecy fulfilled for themselves.

Such an odd thing for the Brahan Seer to have predicted, sceptics say that he could have second guessed the Caledonian Canal but surely not this.
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The Mackenzie Monument
One mile west of Brahan House by the Dingwall - Ullapool road (A835) is the monument to Lady Caroline Mackenzie. It represents the final prediction relating to the fall of the Seaforths. After foretelling the end of the male line (the last Lord Seaforth died after his four sons) the estates went to his eldest daughter. She had married Admiral Hood and spent many years stationed in the East Indies. When the Admiral died, Lady Mary Hood, (Later to become Lady Stewart-Mackenzie) returned wearing the traditional Indian white Coife of mourning. In 1823 Lady Hood was in control of a pony carriage near Brahan accompanied by her sister, Lady Caroline Mackenzie. The ponies bolted and the carriage overturned. Lady Caroline Mackenzie was thrown out and died of her injuries. In the 17th century the Brahan Seer's final comment on the house of Seaforth had been that Lord Seaforth's possessions would be "Inherited by a white-coiffed lassie from the east and she is to kill her sister."

The Latin inscription on the monument translates as follows:-

"At this point, according to the prophecy, Caroline Mackenzie, daughter of Francis, Lord Seaforth, was snatched from life: her sister who shared the same hazard was the last surviving hope of restoration of his house. 1823."
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The Execution

When Isabella, wife of the third Earl of Seaforth asked the Brahan Seer for news of her husband who was away in Paris, he envisaged the man's infidelities with a Frenchwoman. He assured the Countess her husband was well but she demanded more detail until, exasperated beyond measure, the Seer informed her of what he saw.

This earned the oracle the traditional reward for the bearer of bad tidings - execution by being pitched alive into a barrel of boiling tar at Chanonry Point. Before the inevitable he threw his stone into Loch Ussie and foretold of the extinction of the Seaforth line.

Right, The inscription reads:-
"This stone commemorates the legend of Coinneach Odhar better known as the BRAHAN SEER - Many of his prophecies were fulfilled and tradition holds that his untimely death by burning in tar followed his final prophecy of the doom of the House of Seaforth.

Lady Seaforth declared that "Having had so much unhallowed intercourse with unseen world", he would never go to heaven. The Seer replied that he would, but that Isabella would not. He prophesied that upon his death a flying raven and dove will meet mid-air above his ashes and instantly alight. "If the raven be foremost, you have spoken truly; but if the dove, then my hope is well founded."

To the wonder of all beholders of this final prediction, a dove, closely followed by a raven, was the first to alight on the dust of the departed Coinneach Odhar.

Although there are many uncertainties to the life, times and prophecies of Kenneth Mackenzie, Coinneach Odhar, it is without doubt he has come down to us as the Brahan Seer blazing with legend.
 

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Barbara

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2008, 12:15:19 AM »
Fascinating Stu, thanks for your wonderful stories, legends and traditions of Scotland.

Barbara
"Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." - Mark Twain

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2008, 10:46:49 AM »
A tale from the fisher folk of the Shetland Islands... lots of Thomsons there according to surname distribution maps from 1881 and 1998.

THOM AND WILLIE.
THOM and Willie, two young fisher-mates of Lunna, in Shetland, were rivals for the hand of the fair Osla, daughter of Jarm. Now it so happened that, one October afternoon, they took their hand-lines and went out fishing together in their boat. Towards dusk the wind rose, and it soon blew so hard as to compel the young men to run for the nearest shelter--a haven in the islet of Linga in Whalsay Sound, which they happily reached in safety. The islet was uninhabited, and the fishermen had with them neither food nor the means of kindling a fire. They had, however, a roof over their heads; for there was a hut, or lodge, on the island,--used by fishermen in the fair weather season, but deserted since the close of that period. For two days the storm raged without ceasing, and at last the situation of the castaways began to grow very serious. However, on the morning of the third day, a little before daybreak, Willie, who was awake before his companion, discovered that the weather had faired, and that the wind blew in a favouring direction. Upon this, without rousing Thom, he proceeded to the boat, which lay safely hauled up upon the shore, and by dint of great exertion managed to launch her single-handed. Meantime Thom had awoke; and, at last, as Willie did not come back, he followed him to the noust, or place where boats are drawn up. And here a sight met his view which filled him with dismay. The yawl had disappeared from her place; but, raising his eyes, he beheld her already far out at sea and speeding before the breeze in the direction of Lunna. At this sight poor Thom gave way to despair. He realised that his comrade had basely and heartlessly deserted him; he knew that it was not likely that the islet would be visited until the fishing-season should have come round again; and he had small hopes of help from any exertions on his behalf which might be made by his friends, seeing that they would be in ignorance where to look for him. Amid melancholy thoughts and forebodings the day passed slowly, and at nightfall he betook himself to his shake-down of straw within the lodge. Darkness closed in, and he slept. But, towards the small hours of the morning, he was suddenly awakened; when great was his astonishment to see that the hut was lighted up with a strange illumination, whilst a queer inhuman hum and chatter, accompanied by the patter of many pairs of little feet and the jingle of gold and silver vessels, smote upon his ear. A fairy banquet was, in fact, in course of preparation in the lodge. Thom raised himself noiselessly upon his elbow, and watched the proceedings. With infinite bustle and clatter, the table was at last laid. Then there entered a party of trows, who bore between them in a chair, or litter, a female fairy, to whom all appeared to pay honour. The company took seats, and the banquet was on the point of commencing, when in a moment the scene of festivity was changed to one of wild alarm and confusion. A moment more, and Thom learnt to his cost the cause of the sudden change. The presence of a human being had been detected, and at a word from their queen the "grey people," swarming together, were about to rush upon the intruder. But in this trying juncture Thom did not lose his presence of mind. His loaded fowling-piece lay by his side, and, as the fairies rushed upon him, he raised it to his shoulder and fired. In an instant the light was extinguished, and all was darkness, silence, and solitude.

Let us now return to the perfidious Willie. Reaching Lunna in safety, he related a tragic tale (which he had invented on the voyage), to account for the absence of his comrade; and, finding that his story was believed, he began anew, without much loss of time, to urge his suit with the fair Osla. Her father, Jarm, regarded him with favour; but the maiden herself turned a deaf ear to all his entreaties. She felt that she could not love him; and, besides, she was haunted by a suspicion that Thom, in whose welfare she felt a tender interest,, had been the victim of foul play. Pressure was, however, put upon her, and in spite of her objections, an early day was fixed for the wedding. The poor girl was in great distress. However, one night, when she had cried herself to sleep, she dreamed a dream, the result of which was that next morning she proceeded to the house of Thom's parents, and begged them to join her in a search for their missing son. This, notwithstanding their love for him, they were somewhat reluctant to do; arguing that, even supposing him to have been abandoned, as she divined, upon one of the rocky islets of the coast, he must ere now have perished from exposure and starvation. But the girl persisted in her entreaties, which at last prevailed. A boat was manned, and by Osla's direction was steered towards Linga, upon approaching which, sure enough, as the girl had predicted, it was discovered that the islet had a human tenant. Thom met his friends on the beach, and when the first eager greetings had passed, surprise was expressed at the freshness and robustness of his appearance. But this surprise increased tenfold when, in recounting his adventures, he explained that, during the latter days of his isolation, he had supported life upon the remains of the scarcely-tasted fairy banquet, adding that never in his life before had he fared so delicately. On their return to Lunna, the party were received with rejoicings; and it is scarcely necessary to add that Thom and Osla were soon made man and wife. From that time forward Willie prospered no more. The loss of his health and fortune followed that of his good name, and he sank ere long into an early and unregretted grave.

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2008, 07:26:49 AM »
THE LAIRD O' CO'.


In the days of yore, the proprietors of Colzean, in Ayrshire (ancestors
of the Marquis of Ailsa), were known in that country by the title of
Lairds o' Co', a name bestowed on Colzean from some co's (or coves) in
the rock beneath the castle.

One morning, a very little boy, carrying a small wooden can, addressed
the Laird near the castle gate, begging for a little ale for his mother,
who was sick.  The Laird directed him to go to the butler and get his can
filled; so away he went as ordered.  The butler had a barrel of ale on
tap, but about half full, out of which he proceeded to fill the boy's
can; but to his extreme surprise he emptied the cask, and still the
little can was not nearly full.  The butler was unwilling to broach
another barrel, but the little fellow insisted on the fulfilment of the
Laird's order, and a reference was made to the Laird by the butler, who
stated the miraculous capacity of the tiny can, and received instant
orders to fill it if all the ale in the cellar would suffice.  Obedient
to this command, he broached another cask, but had scarcely drawn a drop
when the can was full, and the dwarf departed with expressions of
gratitude.

Some years afterwards the Laird being at the wars in Flanders was taken
prisoner, and for some reason or other (probably as a spy) condemned to
die a felon's death.  The night prior to the day for his execution, being
confined in a dungeon strongly barricaded, the doors suddenly flew open,
and the dwarf reappeared, saying--

   "Laird o' Co',
   Rise an' go."

a summons too welcome to require repetition.

On emerging from prison, the boy caused him to mount on his shoulders,
and in a short time set him down at his own gate, on the very spot where
they had formerly met, saying--

   "Ae gude turn deserves anither--
   Tak' ye that for being sae kin' to my auld mither,"

and vanished.

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2008, 11:57:52 AM »
A few romantic wedding and courting customs from Scotland!

Prophecies
Although most people married locally, young people learned from an early age how to foretell who their marriage partner would be or what he/she would be like. For example, by paring an apple so that the skin comes off in one length. As the clock strikes twelve, it was swung round the head and thrown over the left shoulder. When it landed it would form the first letter of the name of the future spouse. Also, two nuts were burnt in a fire - if they burnt quietly all would be well, if they exploded and burst, true love would be hard to find.

Bundling
The custom of bundling was found in many parts of the country but was particularly prevalent in Orkney (perhaps because of the long, dark, cold winter nights). The courting couple were encouraged to share a bed - but they were fully clothed and the girl had a bolster cover tied over her legs! The idea was to allow the couple to talk and get to know each other but in the safe (and warm) confines of the girl's house.

Bottom Drawer and Dowries
A bride was expected to have a collection of bed-linen, blankets, table linen and bedroom furnishings to take to her new home. The father was also expected to provide a dowry - perhaps a few cattle or sheep or money. Lairds often went into debt to provide their daughters with a good dowry (especially if it was the dowry which made the girl attractive!)

Leap Year
It is said that in the 11th century Queen Margaret introduced the custom of allowing girls to ask the boy to marry her on 29 February in a leap year. It evolved later that if the boy refused, he had to buy her a dress and kid gloves instead!

Minimum Age
Until 1929, a girl could legally get married at the age of 12 or above and a boy at 14 though marriage at such a young age was extremely rare. In 1929 the age was raised to 16. However, in Scotland no parental consent is required from that age, whereas in England the consent of parents was (and is) required until the age of 18. This resulted in young English couples coming to Scotland if they were unable to get their parents' permission. Since the first town of any size over the Scottish/English border was Gretna Green, this became a frequent place for the marriage to take place. The perpetuation of the tradition of the local blacksmith there carrying out a form of wedding ceremonies added to the romance. There are now over 4,000 weddings a year at Gretna in Scotland's "wedding capital" which has now become a popular tourist attraction even for those not getting married.

Show of Presents
Friends and relatives provided presents to help the intending couple to set up home. There was a "show of presents" when everyone came to see what they had received. This was a particularly West of Scotland/Glasgow custom though in Moray it was also found and there it was called "bucking".

Stag Night and Hen Nights
I'm sure you know all about those! In addition, female office and factory workers leaving to get married were often dressed up with balloons, "L" plates, carried a chamber pot (often with salt inside) and were covered in paper flowers and sometimes carried in a barrow to be paraded through the streets. Passing men were encouraged to kiss the prospective bride in exchange for money dropped into the chamber pot. While still in evidence, this ritual is dying out.

Weddings
"Free" weddings were where the father of the bride paid for all the food and drink. Scots weddings usually continue into the evening with dancing and more alcohol! Penny weddings meant each guest provided some food and drink and these often lasted for more than one day.

Wedding Gowns
The colour white for a wedding dress was introduced by Queen Victoria - prior to that any colour was ok except green (which was associated with the fairies) and black (which was for mourning). The tradition of the bride wearing "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" is still often followed. Traditionally, there were never any knots in ribbons or clothing but these were retied after the wedding - tying the knot.

Scramble
This started as the bride throwing a decorated ball as she left the church. This evolved into the bridegroom throwing coins as he left home and on leaving church. Young boys scrambled to pick them up. The custom is less prevalent now due to the danger of accidents happening as youngsters jostled for the coins.

Rings
The ring on the third finger of the left hand goes back to Roman times but was banned in Scotland after the Reformation in the 16th century as being a Popish relic. But the custom came back again in the 17th century. The wearing of wedding rings by men is a recent innovation.

Wedding Cake
This was once a "bridescake" (a sort of shortbread) baked by the brides mother. A piece was broken over the bride's head - if it broke into small pieces, the marriage would be fruitful. The custom of both bride and groom cutting the cake is recent - it used to be just the bride. Everyone got a piece of cake and also sending a piece of cake to all who had given a present became the norm. When the more modern, fruit-cake covered in icing style of cake came into fashion, it was customary to have small trinkets inside so guests had to watch carefully as they ate!

Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu

Donna

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2008, 01:51:56 PM »
Thanks Stu, this is really interesting

Donna
ANY DAY ABOVE GROUND IS A GOOD DAY !

Stirling Thompson

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Re: Customs and Traditions, Myths and Legends
« Reply #29 on: November 21, 2008, 10:52:58 AM »
The Story of Major Weir, 1670


Major Weir was the last man executed for witchcraft in Scotland in 1670. He lived with his unmarried sister, Grizel, in the West Bow - a Z-shaped street near Edinburgh Castle, "composed of tall antique houses, with numerous dovecot-like gables projecting over the footway, full of old inscriptions and sculpturings, presenting at every few steps some darkest lateral profundity, into which the imagination wanders without hindrance or exhaustion ..." wrote Robert Chambers in Traditions of Edinburgh.


Major Weir was an active member of a strict Protestant sect, and was frequently seen at prayer meetings. He officiated at such meetings - but always leaning on his black walking staff. Robert Chambers described his end as follows:


"After a life characterized by all the graces of devotion, but polluted in secret by crimes of the most revolting nature, and which little needed the addition of wizardry to excite the horror of living men, Major Weir fell into severe sickness, which affected his mind so much, that he made open voluntary confession of all his wickedness. The tale was at first so incredible, that the provost, Sir Andrew Ramsay, refused for some time to take him into custody. At length himself, his sister (partner in his crimes), and his staff, were secured by the magistrates, together with certain sums of money, which were found wrapped in rags in different parts of the house. One of these pieces of rag being thrown into the fire by a bailie who had taken the whole in charge, flew up the chimney, and made an explosion like a cannon.


While the wretched man lay in prison, he made no scruple to disclose the particulars of his guilt, but refused to address himself to the Almighty for pardon. To every request that he would pray, he answered in screams, "Torment me no more - I am tormented enough already!" Even the offer of a Presbyterian clergyman, instead of the established Episcopal minister of the city, had no effect on him.


He was tried April 9, 1670 and being found guilty, was sentenced to be strangled and burnt between Edinburgh and Leith. His sister, who was tried at the same time, was sentenced to be hanged in the Grassmarket. When the rope was around his neck, to prepare him for the fire, he was bid to say, "Lord, be merciful to me!" but he answered, as before, "let me alone - I will not - I have lived as a beast, and I must die as a beast!"


After he had dropped lifeless in the flames, his stick was also cast into the fire; and 'whatever incantation was in it,' says a contemporary writer, 'the persons present own that it gave rare turnings, and was long a-burning, as also himself.'"

After his death, neighbours claimed that his ghost was seen on many occasions and mysterious noises and lights came at dead of night from his now-unoccupied lodgings.
Semper Fidelis! Semper Familia!
Stu