fairy hill

Entering Inverness from the South, the traveller passes a small, wooded hill with a peculiar shape that rises steep behind the Caledonian Canal: Tomnahurich.

A large burial ground with old graves on the hill and newer ones circling it. Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (11)Nothing spectacular seems to hide behind the high gates of Tomnahurich.

For those who do not know because normality is nothing but an illusion on this site full of ancient myths and dark stories.

The hill is a natural rarity, Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (13)a so-called esker, a ridge of solid sand and gravel, formed by glaciers long before time. That is the geological point of view.

Lore has another.

Fairies live where the dead lay buried, have lived in that hill for longer than man can remember. Unseen by most and those who saw them, paid for it with their lives.

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (19)

Two fiddlers were once lured in, to play on a night of feasting. When they returned the next morning to breathe the fresh air of Tomnahurich hill, they crumbled to dust. 200 years had passed in what they had believed to be one nightTomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (83).

Some say Thomas the Rhymer is buried beneath that hill. Maybe the lover of the fairy queen still lives inside….

The graves are old on the hill of the fairies; the slopes are steep and the paths mysterious and dark.

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (12)

As were the prophesies of the Brahan Seer, the Coinneach Odhar who “received his gift of the second sight from the sithean, those ancestral spirits or fairies who haunted burial grounds and graves, and within whose bounty the gift of the second sight lay.” (Elisabeth Sutherland: Ravens and Black Rain. The Story of the Highland Second Sight. Corgi, 1987, p 200)

The Brahan Seer made two true predictions concerning Tomnahurich graveyard in the middle of the 17th century:

Strange as it may seem to you this day, the time will come, and it is not far off when full-rigged ships will be sailing eastward and west by the back of Tomnahurich Hill.

(Elisabeth Sutherland: Ravens and Black Rain. The Story of the Highland Second Sight. Corgi, 1987, p 333)

The Caledonian Canal, built and completed in 1822, connects the Great Glen with the sea and many ships take the the route right behind the hill. How could the canal be foreseen two centuries before it was built?

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (88)

The day will come when Tomnahurich (the fairy hill) will be under lock and key, with spirits secured within.

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (3)The Brahan Seer saw gates and closing hours of a graveyard that was established three centuries after his lifetime.

(Elisabeth Sutherland: Ravens and Black Rain. The Story of the Highland Second Sight. Corgi, 1987, p 333)

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (2)

Right on the outskirts of the busy capital of the north, Inverness, rest the dead in mythical earth, buried around and on the hill of the fairies.

Tomnahurich graveyard – a truly magical place.

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (5)

 Liked the post? There’s more here…

graveyard travel guide

Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. These stories have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel. This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.

The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and everything about Scotland except whisky, sheep and tartan.

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.

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