A Legend of Edderton


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A Poem regarding a Legend of a battle between the Picts and the Norse at Edderton. North Star and Farmers Journal, 1899.

The Battle of Carryblair

Unfortunately, I could not find a story about the Battle of Carryblair. However, the tradition of a battle taking place here between the Picts and the 'Danes' is still remembered in Edderton today. Many placenames around the village have also become associated with this forgotten battle. Although I did not find a story, I did find a poem regarding the Legend published in the North Star and Farmers Journal, in 1899.

 

The Battle of Carryblair

With long, black oars, and white sails spread, 
At the close of an autumn day,
The ships of the Norseman Hammadred 
Sailed into Ardmore Bay.
His pride burns high, as the plunderer's eye 
Surveys the meadows fair,
Where the ruddy girls, with golden curls, 
Have stooked the plain with its yellow grain, 
And the lazy cows, contented, browse 
On the slopes of Carriblair.

"Rest, men, to-night, for our toil is done, 
All these will be ours at morn. 
But up and arm you when the sun 
Wakes with my rousing horn." 
But little his ken of the sturdy men
Who muster in Rhanich's silent dell: 
No boyish foes are those dark Munros! 
Or the clan of Ross, whom the fiery cross, 
With Inglis, Mid-Fearn, and sage Strathearn, 
Has summoned to guard their stell.

They met on the beach ere the sun was high; 
They fought till the sun was low; 
They granted no life in that deadly strife, 
But each man killed his foe.
Yet none might stay the onward way
Of Hammadred's mighty sword,
Till he gained the space on the broad hill-face, 
Where Macpherson's band made a last firm stand, 
And the desperate dirk of Polinturk
Through his brazen breast-place bored.

His Vikings buried him where he fell, 
Surrounded by many a brave;
And they raised a mighty stone to tell Of their daring chieftain's grave.
They carved a ring for their sun-bright king, 
And a long line for his fleet;
And below a fish-for his proudest wish
Was to sweep through the sea, as powerful and free 
As a sea king of old, with a circles of gold,
And the tribes of the sea at his feet.

 

Perhaps the Pictish Stone in Edderton graveyard (pictured) is the burial place of Máel Brigte the Buck-Toothed who lost his head after being tricked by Sigurd the Mighty in the 9th century. According to the Orkneyinga saga, Sigurd challenged the Pictish ruler, Mael Brigte the Buck-Toothed, to a 40-man-a-side fight. Treacherously, Sigurd arrived at the fight with eighty men. Máel Brigte and his men were defeated and he was beheaded. Sigurd strapped the head to his saddle as a trophy, but as he rode off, Máel Brigte's buck tooth cut into his leg, which eventually resulted in Sigurd's death.

No one knows where the battle took place but Sigurd is thought to be buried, just across the firth, at Ciderhall near Dornoch which in the past was called Sigurd's Howe. Intriguingly in the 1830s, five human skeletons were found at Carryblair in wooden coffins perfectly entire, except for one which had no head.