It was in 1644 that Aberfoyle’s most loved reverend was born. He was an infamous writer throughout his day, most notable for providing the first translation of the Bible into Gaelic and for the publication of “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Faeries” in 1691. While dedicated to Christ, he was obsessed with studying the existence of faeries and was rumored to be gifted with second sight. This however, did not settle well with the Faerie folk, especially a Christian trying to release their secrets. He truly believed the Christian God overcame Pagan Beliefs. There is a reason they want to remain hidden. He however did not understand this. He wrote that faerie had “light changeable bodies, somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud and best seen at twilight.” While minister of the Aberfoyle Parish, he endeavoured a life researching the fae, interviewing folks who encountered them, and tracking down their whereabouts. He discovered that the local hilltop above the Parish was a gateway to the Faerie World which he called “The Secret Commonwealth” or “The Land of the Faeries”.”Faeries” to him, were a small stature race of human-like beings that were pushed back into the mountains and hills by stronger conquering peoples who were later converted into spectral beings. He continuously stated that the belief in faeries was not incongruent to the Christian faith. This location was known as “Doon Hill” or “Faerie Knowe”. Daily, he would walk up to this hill in hopes of discovering the wee folk. He stumbled into their domain, uninvited, an act that is unforgivable amongst the fae. He was warned not to go there. Late at night in May of 1692 the good Reverend Kirk wandered up Doon Hill in his nightshirt. Some say he vanished while more realistic accounts shows that he collapsed and perished. So as a penalty, many believe he was abducted and imprisoned in Doon Hill with a guise that he died of a heart attack in his mortal body. His motionless body was buried in his Parishes’ kirkyard (churchyard).
Some say though, his coffin is filled with stones as his body was taken by the fae. Some also say he is imprisoned in the huge pine tree atop Doon hill or within the legendary catecombs of coal mines underneath the hill. Soon after his death, his cousin, Graham of Duchray, claimed to have been visited by his spirit the following night, relaying the message he was abducted by faeries. Stories are mixed as what was told to be done – as he was warned his spirit would appear at midsummer eve (or during the baptism of his child) pleaing for his cousin to throw an iron horseshoe (or an iron knife) over the shoulder (or at) his apparition, burning the fae holding him, and freeing him from his imprisonment in the Faerieworld. The cousin claimed, the spirit did appear, but regretfully becoming so shocked to see his cousin, forgot to throw the iron, and therefore Kirk was trapped forever. Some say he is now a mediator between the worlds of fae and humans.
Ever since, the church crumbled, the parish suffered, and now the church serves as a roofless open-air mausoleum. Also since, many humans have gone to the top of Doon Hill with “clouties” (silk or cloth) inscribed with wishes or petitions tied to the branches of the pine or surrounding grove trees asking the Fae to grant their wishes. It is also said, if one runs around the great pine tree seven times, the faeries will appear. Numerous other petitions and spells have been done to the fae including offerings of gifts, statuary, hammering coins into the bark, and un-educated human folk tying plastic or waste other than the traditional white pieces of silk. The hill is also littered with quartz pebbles formerly believed to be “faery firestones” and often collected as protective charms or talismans while others believe its taboo to collect moss, sticks, stones, or anything removed from the hill as bad luck. The church was rescued from completed dereliction in the 19th century and two large iron mortuary weights were placed outside the churches entrance to stop grave diggers and thieves from stealing corpses. In 1793 (a hundred years later) a memorial grave was constructed in honor of Reverend Kirk. The grave is believed to be empty (or filled with stones).
There are archaeological rumors that the hill once served as an Iron Age fort but has never been excavated nor proven to be as such. It is also rumored that Doon Hill is riddled with caverns that were once coal mines. These purported coal mines were written about in “Black Diamonds” by Jules Verne, who visited Aberfolyle in 1877 claiming a wall was blasted through revealing a vast cavern stretching for miles in many directions holding an underground town by a subterranean loch.
Upon my visit to the ancient sacred faerie site in the summer of 2011, I assure you that the faeries are quite present, offered gifts to daily, and omnipresent. Nevermore have I been to a site so strongly eminating the faerie, faerie gates, portals, and doorways. The faeries are quite alive and well in these hills. We of course, offered them some home-made scones mixed with sacred well waters from Glastonbury, Sancreed, and St. Nectan’s Falls; had a picnic with the fae, and made our own petitions amongst them. ~ Leaf McGowan.
This entry was posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2011 at 7:48 am and is filed under Adbductions, Faeries, Sacred Sites. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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