Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/517

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The Sanctuary of Mourie.

Contin, a fair called the Feil Maree was formerly held on the last Wednesday of August, O. S.; he also cites a fair called after the saint at Portree, in Skye; a commemoration of the saint's festival at Forres, in the north of Elgin or Morayshire by a fair held on the 27th of August; a " Summaruff's Fair" on the last Tuesday of August at Fordyce, in Banff; and a great fair at Keith, in Banff, called the Samarevis Fair, and held on the first Tuesday in September.[1]

In the parish of Contin is a burying-ground called "Praes Maree", or Maelrubha's Bush. In the parish of Strath, in Skye, there is a local tradition that here St. Maree used to preach, and "that he hung a bell in a tree, where it remained for centuries. It was dumb all the week till sunrise on Sunday morning, when it rang of its own accord till sunset. It was subsequently removed to the old church of Strath, where it ever afterwards remained dumb; and the tree on which it had so long hung soon after withered away."[2]

But the most interesting record of the local cult is in the seventeenth-century observances. In 1656, the Dingwall presbytery made a strenuous effort to put down the "abhominable and heathenishe practices of the district", and inscribed a full account of their measures in the Presbytery Records.

On the 5th September 1656, "the presbyterie of DingAvall, according to the appoyntment of Synode for searching and censuring such principalis and superstitions as should be discovered thaire—having met at Appilcross, and findeing, amongst uther abhominable and heathenishe practices, that the people in that place were accustomed to sacrifice bulls at a certaine tyme uppon the 25 of August, which day is dedicate, as they conceive, to St. Mourie, as they call him; and that there were frequent approaches to some ruinous chappells and circulateing of them; and that future events, in reference especiallie to

  1. Dr. Reeves, p. 289 sqq.
  2. Ibid, op. cit.