The Magical Legend of the Fairy Flag of the Macleod
Last Updated May 30, 2023 by Tim Trott. First Published in 2013.
Discover the mystery and romance behind the legendary Fairy Flag of Macleod - an ancient banner said to be laden with magical power!
The Island of Skye is located just offshore from Scotland's north-western coast. Loch Dunvegan is located on the western side of this lovely island, looking out towards the far-off islands of North Uist, Harris, and Lewis. Since the 12th century, the leaders of the Clan Macleod have called Castle Dunvegan on a rocky promontory halfway down the Loch home. You can see the renowned Macleod Fairy Flag if you go to the castle.
According to legend, a charming Macleod chieftain once fell in love with a fairy princess who belonged to the Shining People. She also developed feelings for him. They pleaded with the Fairy King to permit their union. He first objected, claiming that his daughter's husband would get old and pass away while she would live forever, breaking her heart. The King eventually consented after being moved by her cries, but only under one restriction—she had to return permanently to her fairy folk after a year and a day.
The happy couple enjoyed a great wedding ceremony, and a handsome son was born the following year. Unfortunately, the year and a day went by far too soon, and she had to maintain her word and go back to her father, the Fairy King, who was waiting for her on the bridge, now known as "The Fairy Bridge," to fulfil her pledge.
The chieftain promised the princess that he would never leave their young kid alone and to cry since she would hear his cries even from far away in the fairy country beneath the hills. The princess gave her husband and son one more hug before she went.
Once his lovely wife left, the chief of the Clan was devastated, and as time passed, his sorrow intensified. Finally, to make him feel better, his pals planned a fantastic birthday feast for him. The chief soon started taking part in singing, dancing, piping, and harping as well.
The baby's nursemaid left the baby's room to watch the fun from the top of the stairs because there was so much music and laughter going on. The infant child cried when he woke up. He cried piteously when alone because the nursemaid did not hear him.
When the nursemaid did come back, she was shocked to see a lovely woman giving the infant a soothing song while wrapping him in a shawl. The nursemaid was aware that she would never forget such a lovely song. The woman kissed the baby, gently placed him back into his cradle once it stopped wailing, and then left into the night.
The Laird's kid told his father about the time his mother came to visit him as he got older. He claimed the shawl was magical and could be used by the Macleods to call the Fairy Knights for their help in times of grave need. Yet there was a three-use limit on the flag. The chief took the fairy flag with him at all times and promptly had a special casket fashioned to hold it.
A period of immense danger arrived hundreds of years later. The MacLeod church was attacked and burned on fire by an opposing clan, the McDonalds, during a raid on the island. This resulted in the deaths of the worshippers within.
The remaining, furious Macleod warriors were vastly outnumbered. They assembled on the sand and spread out the fairy flag. The ring suddenly appeared to expand ten times its original size. Their frightened adversaries turn and flee, never to be seen again. The casket was securely sealed with the flag inside.
Several years later, the islands were struck by a dreadful epidemic that left the cattle and sheep dead and dying. The fairy host rode forth and touched the animals with their swords as the Macleods hoisted the flag once more in the face of complete hunger. The sheep and animals immediately recovered their health, saving the clan from hunger.
The Fairy Flag has not yet been deployed a third time, but it is reported that the Macleod clan leader offered to bring the Fairy Flag to the White Cliffs of Dover during the Second World War when the threat of invasion was at its height. What Churchill thought of this kind of offer remains unknown.
The Cradle Spell of Dunvegan is the name of the song that the nursemaid overheard the fairy mother singing to her infant. It is still sung on Skye.
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