British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Achadh a' Bheannaich

Achadh a'Bheannaich

An article published in Folk-lore in 1898 describes a cairn overgrown with heather a short ways east of 'Druidical' stones in the parish of Latheron. The translation of the Gaelic is 'the Mound of Blessing or Salutation'.

The author MacPhail visited the site in 1874 and he describes it as having in the middle a small enclosure resembling one of the 'Druid' altars to be seen in the Highlands. He relates the story that he heard from a Caithness minister who was 'an intimate friend, now deceased':

When the principle Druid of that district had become so infirm that he could no longer perform the functions of his office, he was burnt alive on this altar as a sacrifice. While he was being offered, the young Druid who had been appointed his successor in office kept going round in the altar-smoke that he might catch the spirit of his predecessor as it took its flight.

This farrago of ahistorical nonsense sounds less like folk tradition than antiquarian speculation concerning Druids and "wicker men." Early antiquaries' notions of Druids were derived from Roman writers on a scant few sheets of anti-barbarian propaganda.  None of it has any basis in fact.  There we Druids, that we know.  What they believed and how they practiced we can never know, unfortunately. Don't believe anything written otherwise.