The Quality Of Islands

“distant and isloated

wild and dangerous

marvelous, or

rich and beautiful”

What Spills Out of the Fairy Egg?

Gerhard Jaritz’s summery of the qualities and values attached to “literary Islands” in medieval texts. This contrast between negative and positive features seems less evident in Martin Martin’s description of the Western Isles, here positive features are very much in evidence.


Gerhard Jaritz, The Quality Of Islands In High German Literature, in Isolated Islands in Medieval Nature, Culture and Mind, Budapest 2011


No. 74: Lost and Found In Other Words


Ic waes Faemne geong,    feaxhar cwene

ond aenlic rinc                           on ane tid;

Fleah mid fuglum     ond on flode swom,

deaf under ype               dead mid fiscum,

ond on foldan stop,      haefda fero cwicu.

I was a maiden light/ grey haired woman/queen

an excellent/ beautiful/ solitary warrior upon one time

flew with birds  upon water I swam

dived under wave, dead among the fishes

and upon ground I stepped, I had a living soul


(47) Rarities

Towards A New Science And Philosophy of Sight and Sound In Late 17th Century Scottish Thought: Communication Across Vast Distance and Other Failed Experiments

“I should now go to the rest of your excellent remarks upon the Beef, the Geese, the Loch, the Peat-man & the Kyle nor shall an iota of them drop. But they have all (of them) their peculiar Weight”


The Pear of Castoun sayd to be keep 300 years

The Beef of Borthwick Castle

The Watdish of Bily in the Mersh

Donald Duck?

The Beefpot of Aunraw

The craw egg at Canglton

Hauthiendame (caves)

Roslin College & House

The oily well near Edenb

The monument at Dumbar

Tentallan well

I to lage in hunsdail

Hidem cives & ward (stones)


Letter S. Pepys to Lord Reay, 9 Jan. 1700

‘A Collection of Highland Rites and Customs’, Anon, Late 17th cen.


M. Hunter (eds) ‘The Occult Laboratory: Magic, Science and Second Sight in Late 17th-Century Scotland’, Woodbridge, 2001

This Weeks Reading

J. Wasko, M. Philips, E.R. Meehan, Dazzled by Disney? The Global Audiences Project

The Gift: Of The Wave and Its Reflection


 And In This Thing Beneath The Waves Are Islands Lost And Found

There is a variety of nuts, called molluka beans, some of which are used as amulets against witchcraft, or an evil eye, particularly the white ones; and upon this account they are worn about children’s necks, and if any evil is intended to them, they say the nut changes into a black colour. That they did change colour I found to be true by my own observation, but cannot be positive as to the cause of it.

Malcolm Campbell, steward of Harris, told me, that some weeks before my arrival there, all his cows gave blood instead of milk, for several days together: one of the neighbors told his wife that this must be witchcraft, and it would be easy to remove it, if she would but take the white nut, called the Virgin Mary’s Nut, and lay it in the pail into which she was to milk the cows. This advice she presently followed, and having milked one cow into the pail with the nut in it, the milk was all blood, and the nut changed its colour into dark brown: she used the nut again, and all the cows gave pure good milk, which they ascribe to the virtue of the nut. This very nut Mr Campbell presented me with, and I keep it still by me.


A Description of The Western Isles of Scotland: Circa 1695