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TITLE
Superstitions of Highland Fishing Communities
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_RICHARDGORDON
DATE OF RECORDING
1991
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Richard Gordon
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1773
KEYWORDS
folklore
shape-shifters
transmogrification
stories
customs
beliefs
supernatural
legends
audio

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In this audio extract, Richard Gordon talks about some of the superstitions of the fishing communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The extract is from Moray Firth Radio's 'Recollections' series.

Well all the way round the world people who've gone out to sea have always been on the lookout for signs and omens and the rest of it. I mean people were always encountering beasts which back on shore, people would not believe. For example, whales and dolphins and the rest must have seemed pretty strange if you described them to people on shore, which led to all kinds of accounts of half-human, half-beastie creatures. The mermaid's the most famous example of that and in the Moray Firth area there was quite a lot of this going on. Up in the Shetlands you had the superstition about the selkie which was a seal maiden who would come ashore and take off her sealskin, and if the fortunate man who came across her could catch her skin, he could claim her as his bride. But she would not stay if he ever spoke of her origin and if she could get her skin back then away she'd be.

There were quite a number of Moray Firth legends of this sort. There was a Ross boat builder, one Roderick MacKenzie, apparently, who caught a mermaid but released her on the condition that nobody would ever drown from a boat he had built. It's said the promise was kept. There was quite a few other odd beliefs; how people, when they died wool, that the doors and windows had to be shut to prevent an evil eye looking in to spoil the work; or how on New Year's day no fire should be given out of the house. Again, a sick man was given a cog of water in which a shilling was dropped. If, when the water was drunk the coin stuck to the bottom, it was said he would live; if it didn't, well he passed on to a better life. Also when lines were being bated lamps were never burned on the same side of the house where the work was being done. It was thought that if you left a ladle in the kale pot with a lid on it that that was unlucky. New-wed girls in fishing communities were circled by their mothers who would hold a burning fire stick with a hole in it to drive away the fairies, who were thought to steal newborn children and leave changelings behind. These are all the sorts of things that people believed quite as a matter of course, not just in fishing communities, but all over Scotland and, in fact, all over the world

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Superstitions of Highland Fishing Communities

1990s

folklore; shape-shifters; transmogrification; stories; customs; beliefs; supernatural; legends; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Miscellaneous

In this audio extract, Richard Gordon talks about some of the superstitions of the fishing communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The extract is from Moray Firth Radio's 'Recollections' series.<br /> <br /> Well all the way round the world people who've gone out to sea have always been on the lookout for signs and omens and the rest of it. I mean people were always encountering beasts which back on shore, people would not believe. For example, whales and dolphins and the rest must have seemed pretty strange if you described them to people on shore, which led to all kinds of accounts of half-human, half-beastie creatures. The mermaid's the most famous example of that and in the Moray Firth area there was quite a lot of this going on. Up in the Shetlands you had the superstition about the selkie which was a seal maiden who would come ashore and take off her sealskin, and if the fortunate man who came across her could catch her skin, he could claim her as his bride. But she would not stay if he ever spoke of her origin and if she could get her skin back then away she'd be. <br /> <br /> There were quite a number of Moray Firth legends of this sort. There was a Ross boat builder, one Roderick MacKenzie, apparently, who caught a mermaid but released her on the condition that nobody would ever drown from a boat he had built. It's said the promise was kept. There was quite a few other odd beliefs; how people, when they died wool, that the doors and windows had to be shut to prevent an evil eye looking in to spoil the work; or how on New Year's day no fire should be given out of the house. Again, a sick man was given a cog of water in which a shilling was dropped. If, when the water was drunk the coin stuck to the bottom, it was said he would live; if it didn't, well he passed on to a better life. Also when lines were being bated lamps were never burned on the same side of the house where the work was being done. It was thought that if you left a ladle in the kale pot with a lid on it that that was unlucky. New-wed girls in fishing communities were circled by their mothers who would hold a burning fire stick with a hole in it to drive away the fairies, who were thought to steal newborn children and leave changelings behind. These are all the sorts of things that people believed quite as a matter of course, not just in fishing communities, but all over Scotland and, in fact, all over the world