British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Dun Bhuirgh

Dun Bhuirgh

On a tiny snippet of a note in Grinsell's Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, I was able to hunt down this snippet of fairy-related folklore from Capt. Thomas' On the Duns of the Outer Hebrides:

Though neither history nor tradition are associated with Dun Bhuirgh, the fairies
have long made it their residence. They used to be seen with their big black dogs,
with large iron chains round their necks, going about like ordinary men in their
Bruithean. They were of great assistance to the Borvians, often helping them out of
their difficulties, and even performing apparent impossibilities.
Ever since the burning of the Lewis forests there is often a scarcity of timber. A
Borve boatman, who lived when the fairies inhabited the dun, experienced this
difficulty, but got over it in a wonderful manner. It seems he had no mast for his
boat, and knew not where to get onet' He was not altogether destitute of wood, for
he had a small " simid," or hand-mallet. He took this to the dun, and throwing it
on the ground outside the wall, he loudly expressed his hope and wish that the fairies
would before morning convert his " simid " into a mast for his boat. Being curious
to know how the fairies would get on with his mast, he hid himself in some nook
about the dun. He had not waited long when he heard them speaking of himself
and his " simid." " Nach cruaidh a cheist a chuir am fear a thainig a tir nam fear
beo oirrinn!" i.e., "What a hard task the man who came from the land of the living
men has given us!" The first who attempted it could do nothing at it, and killed
himself in the attempt. The brother of the deceased fairy, in a great rage, tried
next, and was rather liberal in his imprecations on the man who came from the
" land of the living men," saying, " Mo bhuilg, m'uird, us m'ionnan; m'ainnis,
m'eiginn, us m'aimbeart, crann-bata dheanamh de shimid. Gu ro trom eiginn is
cruaidh mhilleadh air an laimh a chuir a steadh an simid, or chuir mo bhrathair a
mach ris fuil a chridhe;—ach ni mis e";—i.e., "My bellows, my hammers, and my
anvil; my poverty, my distress, and my foolishness: to make a mast of a hand-mallet.
My weightiest violence and my destruction be on the hand that sent in the mallet,
for it cost my brother his heart's blood;—but I will do it." And the man found in
the morning his mallet transformed into a mast.