British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle

Near Dollar in the Ochil Hills is the village of Glendevon. At the top of the glen through which runs the Queich is a low round hill known as Maiden Castle, and traditionally it is believed to be a fairy hill.

Here is set the story of 'The Piper of Glendevon', told by Sir John Rhys in his Celtic Folklore (1901). He had it from the Rev. Andrew Clark, who had heard it from the late sexton of Dollar. The sexton, who had died about 12 years prior, aged seventy, had learned the tale from his father.

A piper, carrying his pipes, was coming from Glendevon to Dollar in the grey of evening. He crossed the Garchel (a little stream running into the Queich burn), and looked at the Maiden Castle, and saw only the grey hillside and heard only the wind soughing through the bent. He had got beyond it when he heard a burst of lively music; he turned around, and instead of the dark knoll saw a great castle, with lights blazing from windows, and heard the noise of dancing issuing for the open door.

The piper went back to the hill, just as a procession of fairies came from the mound. He was caught and taken into a great hall ablaze with lights, full of people dancing. He had to pipe for them for a day or two, but became anxious because he knew his family would be wondering what had happened to him. The fairies promised to let him go if he played a particular tune to their satisfaction. He played his very best, the dance was fast and furious, and at the end he was greeting with loud applause.

On his release he found himself alone, in the grey of the evening, beside the dark hillock, and no sound was heard save the purr of the burn and the soughing of the wind through the bent. Instead of completing his journey to Dollar, he walked hastily back to Glendevon to relieve his folk's anxiety.

Entering his father's house, he found not a single face he knew. When he protested that he had been gone only a day or two, a grey old man was roused from a doze beside the fire, and told how when he was only a boy he had heard from his father that a piper had gone away to Dollar on a quiet evening, and had never been seen nor heard of since, nor any trace of him found. The piper had been in the "castle" for a hundred years.