Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Broadford Fairy Knoll, Isle of Skye

Beauty can sometimes be found in the most unexpected of places, and the same can definitely be said of fairy sites. Within a couple of minutes walk of the busy town centre of Broadford can be found a grassy and magical little knoll, covered in delicate wild flowers and wildly knotted blackberry vines. Beneath the knoll hides a deeper secret, that of the ancient dead. 'The Gentleman's Magazine' of 1841 gives further details of this fascinating site...
"The discovery [of chambers inside] was made by a poor girl, who related the circumstance to me as follows. One day, when she was sitting on the Cairn, some of the earth near her suddenly gave way, and fell in; presently a large stone followed, -- revealing, to her great surprise and alarm, a dark hole, and showing that the Cairn whereon she had been sitting was hollow. She ran and communicated her discovery to some men; who first threw some stones into the cavern, and then descended."
(Drawing from The Gentleman's Magazine of 1841)

Descriptions of what they found inside the tomb seem to vary but most seem to agree that human bones were found, together with the remains of a stone coffin. According to the young girl she also saw an amber bead, and the sign near the cairn mentions a green stone archer's wristguard but the Gentlemen's magazine seems to suggest that this was found at another cairn.

No mention of fairies was made in this article, but MacCulloch does mention in 'the Misty Isle of Skye' (1905) that several places in Skye are noted as haunts of the fairy folk, including "a fairy knowe close by the Inn at Broadford." Swire also mentions the fairies in 'Skye: The Island and It's Legend' (1961) and writes that "fairy music used often to be heard in Broadford, on the fairy knoll near the hotel. On the little promontory where Sutherland's garage now stands, fairies could be seen dancing. Whether they still do so, in and out of the petrol pumps, is not known."

Whether all sources are speaking of the same grassy knoll I'm not entirely sure, but the Liveras chambered tomb has an undeniable atmosphere of mystery about it. Although the knoll is relatively small, the dense vegetation and clambering blackberry vines make exploration very difficult, and no matter which direction you approach from and which path you try to follow, you never seem to find yourself any further up the hill! I hope the photos below manage to capture the wonder of this beautiful place...

Sources & Further Information
The Misty Isle of Skye, MacCulloch
The Gentleman's Magazine, 1832
Skye: The Island and It's Legend, Swire
The Modern Antiquarian, Liveras Chambered Tomb


Minerva Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

Lovely post! You are so right too, quite often the most magical things are to be found in unexpected places. Minerva x

The Faery Folklorist said...

Thanks Minerva! Unexpected places lead to the most interesting of adventures if you're lucky! :) Off to North Wales in a few weeks, hoping to find lots of exciting unexpected places!

Anonymous said...

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The Faery Folklorist said...

Aw how exciting, thank you!! :D

Jodie Humphrey said...

This is such a wonderful story and place to visit! I would be too scared to climb to the top of the hill incase I fell in! It looks so magical though :)