Saturday, 20 December 2008

Crowdie Vikings


I've been reading Finlay Macdonald's Crowdie and Cream (1982) after just catching a bit of the third episode on BBC4. As well as being a good example of Celtic Fringe autobiography, it has some interesting Harris folklore, in particular a story about how Viking invaders are bamboozled by the local fairies:

...long ago, an army of warriors from a foreign land had come ashore on the beach and had set about plundering and pillaging the land as they had done up and down the whole of the rest of our coast. But here, in this very hollow, they had come face to face with a host of little people - fairies who, instead of fighting the foreigners, made them welcome and made them sit down and rest and eat and drink their fairy food. And as the fierce Norsemen nibbled the tid-bits their tiredness and their fierceness left them, and they began to hear the most beautiful music that they had ever heard in their lives and they began to dream dreams of unsurpassed beauty. One by one the warriors fell asleep and when the last of them had nodded off the fairies pulled them down into their own world on top of which we were sitting now. It was a world of music and milk and honey and the wild men had liked it so much that they never came back from it again, and never again troubled the people of Harris.

This all takes place in Scarista, a Norse name if ever there was one...

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