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January 16th 1690

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Robert Kirk and the fairies of Aberfoyle

Robert Kirk, the minister of Aberfoyle, seems an unusual person to have written a treatise on The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Faunes and Fairies. Yet his descriptions are both confident and comprehensive. The fairies we are told steal the grain and are "sometimes heard to bake bread, strike hammers and do such like services within the little hillocks they most haunt." When Scotland was uninhabited "they had their easy tillage above ground. The print of these furrows do yet remain to be seen on the shoulders of very high hills."

They are clearly seen by these men of the second sight to "eat at funerals and banquets; hence many will not taste meat at these meetings lest they have communion with, or be poisoned by them. So are they seen to carry the bier or coffin with the corpse among the middle men to the grave."

Their houses are called "large and fair and unperceivable by vulgar eyes, having fir lights, continual lamps and fires often seen without fuel to sustain them. Women are yet alive who tell they were taken away when in child bed to nurse fairy children. The tramontains to this day put bread, the Bible or a piece of iron in women's beds when travelling to save them from being thus stolen; and they commonly report that all uncouth unknown wights are terrified by nothing earthly so much as by cold iron."

Finally the Rev Robert Kirk suggests a possible origin of the so called fairy hills or dun-shi and it was while walking on one such hillock that he was called away to the fairies. "There be many places called fairy hills which the mountain people think impious and dangerous to peel or discover by taking earth or wood from them, superstitiously believing the souls of their predecessors to dwell there. And for that end they say a mount was dedicate beside every churchyard to receive the souls till their adjacent bodies arise and so become as a fairy hill; they using bodies of air when called abroad."

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