If I had to pick the most enchanting fairy site visited on this trip it would be Nant Woods, without a doubt. This mossy green woods with it's gnarled old trees seems to hide a secret or two, the minute we arrived it began snowing, and the minute we left it stopped.
Campbell's Superstitions of the Highlands (1900) tells us this story of the fairies of Nant Woods:
"A child was taken by the Fairies from Killichrenan near Loch Awe, to the Shi-en in Nant Wood (Coill' an Eannd). It was got back by the father drawing a furrow round the hillock with the plough. He had not gone far when he heard a cry behind him, and on looking back found his child lying in the furrow."Campbell also mentions the area in his Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands (1902):
"On the high road leading from the wood of Nant (Coill' an Eannd) to Kilchrenan on Lochaweside, two or three summers ago, the traveller was met by a dark shadow, which passed him without his knowing how. On looking after him, he again saw the shadow, but this time moving away, and a little man in its centre, growing less as the shadow moved off. The little man was known as "Bodach beag Chill-a-Chreunain.""Another curious site nearby is 'Clach Na H'Annaid', said to signify the site of an early religious settlement. On this site is a disused graveyard, some say it was used to bury upbaptised children. In agreement with this the 1881 OS map marks the spot as an Infants Burial Ground.
We had a wonderful wander around Nant Woods, just as the sun was dipping in the sky. Campbell's story doesn't give an exact location for the fairy hillock, but I have an inkling that the hill in the photo below has a faery inhabitant or two....
Here are a couple of photos from charming Kilchrenan, where the child was stolen by the fairies...
Sources & Further Information
Superstitions of the Highlands, Campbell
Witchcraft and the Second Sight in the Highlands, Campbell
Clach Na H'Annaid, RCAHMS