Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Fairy Hills of Strathyre

Not far from Balquhidder is the picturesque village of Strathyre, with Beinn an t-Sidhein towering above, also known as the Faery Mountain. According to the In Callander Website, "Strictly speaking, Beinn an t-Sidhein is only partly a faery hill, despite the name. It has a knoll-shoulder on the south side called An Sidhean which is the faery hill and which is part of Beinn an t-Sidhein."

The fairy hill also gets a mention in Margaret Bennett's essay 'Balquhidder Revisted' from 'Good People, New Fairylore Essays' (1991) by Peter Narvaez. The author spoke to a 90 year old local lady, named Mrs Macgregor in the essay, who mentions Beinn an t-Sidhein as a fairy hill. She fondly recalls the days when it was bare of trees, before the Forestry Commission covered it in trees, a move that seems to have been unpopular with the locals.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find any stories as to how the hill became associated with the faeries, but would love to hear from anyone who can shed light on this matter. Below are some views of Beinn an t-Sidhein, taken from the village.

On the opposite side of the glen can be found another faery hill, Cnoc an t-Sidhein, also known as the Faery Knoll. This little wooded knoll is now the site of the village war memorial, but tucked away behind the knoll is a beautiful little stream with mossy banks, perhaps the original site of the fairies. When you reach the fork in the path, take the right fork to venture up the Faery Knoll, or the left path to the river....

There is another fairy hill marked on the Ordinance Survey maps for Strathyre, 'Sidheag'. It is located along the river below Beinn an t-Sidhein but I'm not sure where exactly as the contours of the landscape are hidden deep beneath the trees and braken. I think Sidheag is somewhere around here though!!

As with my previous entry, I haven't managed to find much information about these hills, but hope the information I have given is correct and that I have taken photos of the right hills! Unfortunately I lack multiple sources to check the information against and only have the Ordinance Survey map to go by on this entry, so please feel free to add a comment if you have any further information or have spotted a mistake! :)

Sources & Further Information
Balquhidder Revisited, Margaret Bennett
Good People. New Fairylore Essays, P Narvaez
In Callander Website, Fairies and Fairy Knolls and Hills


Anonymous said...

Okay, banging my usual old drum, but could they be ancient burial mounds? I'd always assumed the link was some memory of ancient burials passed down in a distorted form, but I recently came across reference to 'fairy cups' - ancient beakers dug up from burial mounds, which were assigned to faeries in popular lore.

Either way, they're fascinating places and there will be some story there, veiled by the passage of time...

The Faery Folklorist said...

Quite a few of the faery hills up there seemed to once have been hill forts many years ago, though I can't remember off hand whether Beinn an t-Sidhein was one of them! Definitely does seem to be lots of links between fae and burial mounds and other remnants left behind by ancient folk. Like the stories of old cup and ring stones being fairy bowls where the fairies cooked their porridge! Such a lovely idea :)

Kenny Higgins said...

As a relatively new resident of Strathyre, I was intrigued to read the articles with photos of Ben Sheann. My house is in the heart of the village. One day I climbed around 100 feet above the house and took a photo of Ben Sheann with a light snow cover. To our amazement I captured a distinct girls face on the mountain. I have the photo if anyone wants a copy
Kenny Higgins

The Faery Folklorist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

In random research, it looks like Bronze Age burial mounds are pretty much fairy mounds should you be a believer as they are claimed as belonging to Aos Sí. It's a bit of both either way you cut it.

The Faery Folklorist said...

Oh yes definitely a lot of connections between fairy hills and prehistoric burial mounds, especially around Scotland! :)