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The Laird of Balmachie's Wife


This tale involves a fairy abduction and replacement by a changeling, in this case a Laird's wife, a rather larger burden than the usual child. The original story can be found in Folklore and Legends of Scotland by W.W Gribbins.

Many hundreds of years ago, the Laird of Balmachie rode to Dundee on business. His wife was ill at the time, so he left her in the care of a nursemaid, tucked up at home in bed.

The day's proceedings in Dundee being complete, the Laird set out on the long ride home. Deciding to take a shortcut off the main road as twilight fell, he passed by the Cur-hills in Carlungy, well known as a fairy haunt. Riding by he suddenly noticed a troop of fairies carrying aloft a stretcher on which a person was lying. He felt compelled to interrupt them, and drawing his sword he spurred his horse amidst their company and shouted at the top of his voice for them to release their captive.

At once the fairies disappeared dropping their burden on to the damp heather. The Laird dismounted and walked over to the crumpled figure who had fallen when the fairies disappeared. To his amazement he found that it was his wife, still dressed in her bedclothes, she was a little dazed but otherwise okay. He gathered her behind him and rode the rest of the way home.

When he reached the house he placed his wife in a separate room in the care of a servant, and went to the bedchamber where he had left his wife that very morning. She was still there, tucked up in bed looking very pale and ill, she started complaining about being cold and neglected throughout the long day. He suggested that she should get up and warm herself by the large open fire in the room. She replied that she could not move so the Laird picked her up bodily, and walked to the hearth, without hesitation he threw her in one movement straight into the heart of the fire. She landed in the flames and flew straight up through the ceiling blasting a hole in the roof and through into the night air.

The Laird then returned his real wife to the bed, after a period of rest she told him what had happened. After he had left her to go to Dundee, the nurse had gone on an errand in another part of the house. Suddenly a multitude of Elves had appeared at the window, they came into the room and lifted her out of the bed and through the window. She remembered nothing else, only waking to find herself outdoors and in the arms of her husband.

Once a year, although well mended, the hole in the roof was said to burst open with a supernatural wind.



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