The Merrymaid of Shandwick
the Spirit of the Highlands is embodied in their stories and the places where the stories have come to rest
The Merrymaid of Shandwick is a traditional folk tale from the Seaboard villages on the Easter Ross Peninsula It tells of a young fisherman from Balintore who comes upon a mermaid, sitting on a rock in Shandwick bay, and captures her by stealing her tail. This video was inspired by the late Dolly MacDonald, a native of the Seaboard, who told me the story so directly and movingly.
For me, the Spirit of the Highlands is embodied in their stories and the places where the stories have come to rest: the Merrymaid of Shandwick; the Seal Killer of Duncansby Head; Stine Bheag, the Wind Witch of Tarbet Ness; the Last Wolves of Glen Sleddale, Glen Affric, and the banks of the River Findhorn… They are tales, first told long ago around peat fires and in Travellers’ tents, that still - in the 21st century - have the power to engage and fire the imagination.
"The Seaboard villages on the Easter Ross Peninsula - Hilton, Balintore and Shandwick - are just a few miles east of the busy A9, but when you visit them you enter a world of legend and deep history: where a mermaid was captured on Shandwick beach, and an ancient well is haunted by the ghost of a solitary, melancholy woman; where there are Pictish carved stones, a medieval chapel site, and a reef named for three Norse princes who drowned while trying to rescue their kidnapped sister. Those seemingly quiet, unassuming villages are a place of ancient, ancestral dreams."