Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Volcanoes and Fairies

Sunday saw a bright day, so a short stroll up the Eildon Hills was in order.  The hills, just outside Melrose, are not that high, but are pretty much visible from all parts of the Borders.  Composed of volcanic lava, over the years they have formed into three distinct hills. 

Being the highest point for miles around, they are a natural defence mechanism, with evidence of both iron age and roman forts being found.  But in the best of Border Traditions, there is also a healthy amount of local folklore.

Thomas the Rhymer lived in Earlston ( or Ercildoune as it was called ), and was reputed to be a prophet of some stature.  He was also known as 'True Thomas', as apparently he couldn't tell a lie.  Legend has it that he kissed the Queen of Elfland ( Queen of the Fairies ), and was then transported to her Kingdom, which lay within the Eildon Hills.  Although apparently only there for one night, when he returned to the human world, seven years had passed.

'I'm not the Queen of Heaven, Thomas,

That name does not belong to me;
I am but the Queen of fair Elphame
Come out to hunt in my follie.'

Like all legends, there is more than one version.  A slightly more humerous account can be found here.

These days the hills have a quieter existence. 

The picture above is looking north.  The small hill in the top left of the picture is the Black Hill.  At the foot of that hill lies Earlston ( Ercildoune ).

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