Cover image for Five euphemias : women in medieval Scotland, 1200-1420
Five euphemias : women in medieval Scotland, 1200-1420
Sutherland, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
282 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, genealogical tables, maps ; 25 cm
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HQ1147.G7 S87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Through the lives of the five women, all related, all called Euphemia, and one of them Queen of the Scots, Elizabeth Sutherland provides a unique insight into a popular period of Scottish history. While medieval battles are well recorded, there is little written about the important influence of the women behind the scenes. Through arranged marriages, profitable alliances were made, territory gained and bridges built. But the women--though technically the possessions of their menfolk--were far from passive creatures. There are accounts of bravery and love affairs, papal separations and religious devotion. It was a turbulent time in Scottish history, and this original book casts new light on the Scots' fierce fight for freedom.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Sutherland lives in Scotland and is the author of articles and guidebooks on Highland life.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

A dense yet fascinating maze, this narrative reveals how five women who were either born or married into the family of the earl of Ross over a 200-year period contributed to the foundation of the Scottish nation. t Packed with surprising facts and anecdotes, it is as much a descriptive history of the age as an exploration of the women's lives and the genealogy of their clans. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, Sutherland (In Search of the Picts) begins with the birth of the first Euphemia, whose father shaped the fate of his heirs when he assumed the earldom in 1214. The third Euphemia became Queen of Scots after her second husband, Robert III, assumed the throne in 1371.Offering a compelling account of how Druid pagan customs mixed naturally with newer Christian ones, Sutherland reveals how the demands of the agricultural economy governed so much of the religious, political and other cultural structures of the medieval period in Scotland. She also covers such diverse topics as aphrodisiacs (a brew of wild orchids), siblings opposed in battle, pets in the nunnery, and folk tales, such as one in which two nuts are thrown into a fire (a couple was to expect more harmony if the nuts burned together than if they rolled apart). Marital relationships were diverse: children born to an engaged couple bound the parents in a common-law marriage; couples could live together for a number of years and then divorce; or a man might live with a woman for a year before deciding to marry her; if he wished, he could send her back to her family with any children they might have had. Maps, illustrations. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One FARQUHAR'S FAMILY Euphemia ... the name chimes like a silver bell down the centuries, musical, classical and aristocratic. Derived from the Greek, it means `pleasant speech' or `euphemism', but it can also mean `silence'. When the pagan priests offered a sacrifice they ordered those attending to `speak pleasantly' in order not to annoy the gods. Thus for safety's sake, nobody spoke at all.     How then did a thirteenth-century Gaelic-speaking warrior and hereditary lay abbot called Farquhar Mactaggart and his wife (whose name is not known), living in remote Applecross, come to choose such a fancy unfamiliar name for their eldest daughter? Perhaps she was called after St Euphemia of Bithynia, a virgin martyr who was tortured and thrown to the lions during Diocletian's persecution of the Christians in 307 AD. Her courage was legendary and the name spread throughout Europe reaching England about 1100 AD. Perhaps -- even more unlikely -- her father had heard of Euphemia, prioress of Ickleton in Cambridgeshire, who seems to have taken the name of the convent's foundress, Euphemia de Vere, countess of Oxford in the mid-twelfth century.     The probability is that he had never even heard of the name Euphemia. He and his wife may have chosen his mother's or mother-in-law's name, as was the custom, and she was baptised Eighrig (Eyrik) which was changed by genealogists of a later date into the nearest English, or more probably French, equivalent.     Similarly her father's name was Fearchar (Fe-ru-hur) anglicised to Farquhar, a common Celtic name meaning `dearest one'. Descended, as we have seen, from Niall of the Nine Hostages, St Maelrubha's clan and the Irish King Beolan, his distinguishing title -- in those days there were no surnames -- was Mac an t-saigairt which translates as `son of the priest'. All that is known of his background is that by inheritance he became lay abbot and lord of Applecross, and that he grew up to be a courageous and successful warrior with strong Christian convictions.     Euphemia -- for the time being we will call her Eighrig -- must have been born in the first decade of the thirteenth century. We don't know where she came in the family of four surviving children but we know she had a younger sister Cairistiona or Christina and two brothers, Uilleam or William, the elder, who was to be heir to the earldom, and MaolCholuim or Malcolm who inherited the lay abbacy of Applecross.     Farquhar's choice of names is revealing. William was still king of Scots, a man of fifty-seven in 1200, styled today as `the Lion' from his adoption of the lion rampant on his coat of arms, and as `the Brawny' to contemporary Gaels. It was his aim to consolidate those parts of Alba (Scotland) which were still rebellious, including Caithness, Moray and Ross. In 1187 he had taken his army north and while staying at Inverness, his young warriors had defeated the rebel claimant to the throne and in true Celtic tradition presented his head in triumph to their king. William had thereafter planted great defensive castles in Moray, the Black Isle and in Easter Ross. He had then gone on to subdue the powerful earl of Caithness and Orkney, putting in place of the rebel chieftains Anglo-French or Flemish knights of his own choosing, some of whose descendants were later to play an important part in Eighrig's life.     The younger Farquhar probably fought for and certainly admired his brawny king who was as famed for his courage as for his personal piety. Perhaps he called his eldest son William in his honour. Applecross, unlike the Western Isles which were Norse, was part of the Scottish kingdom. Farquhar's admiration, loyalty and support of the Scottish crown were later to be extended to William the Brawny's young heir, Alexander II, and would eventually lead Farquhar to fortune and the founding of a dynasty.     Malcolm, too, was a king's name. William the Brawny's older brother Malcolm IV, known as `the Maiden', was only eleven years old when he was crowned in 1153. He died unmarried at the age of twenty-three. Although so young, he seems to have been an effective ruler and also a great patron of the church. But perhaps Farquhar chose the name in honour of St Columba for it means `tonsured follower of Colum Cille'. The name Christina was brought to Scotland in the eleventh century by Queen Margaret, English wife of King Malcolm III ( Ceann Mor or `Big Head'), and speaks for itself. All these names reflect the age that combined the feudal and Celtic values of chivalry, warriorship and an extraordinary piety.     It is hard today to imagine a world where belief in Christ and all that is entailed by biblical Christianity was unquestioned. But the old pagan customs and beliefs were slow to die out -- indeed they have not yet entirely disappeared from a'Ghaidhealtachd (the Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Islands). Thus while the devout Celtic warrior could also see in Christ, a shadow of Cuchullin the great god-hero of his ancestors, his wife could see in St Bridget not only the foundress of a religious community at Kildare in the fifth to sixth centuries but also Bride, the legendary foster-mother of Christ, whose alter ego was Bridhde , the ancient Celtic goddess of the hearth.     The name therefore whom Eighrig's mother would have invoked at childbirth was an amalgam of pagan, saint and midwife the one as bound to the others as the three persons of the Trinity. `AID ME, O BRIDE' Let us imagine then that as soon as Eighrig's birth was imminent, the midwife would have gone to the door of Farquhar's house and called out to Bride to come in. Tha do bheatha deanta, Tabhair cobhair dha na bhean, S' tabh an gein dh'an Triana. You are truly welcome, Give relief to the woman And give the conception to the Trinity. Childbirth was cloaked in a great mantle of ritual and incantation and Eighrig's mother for all her Christian beliefs would have mingled pagan with Christian practice and seen no sin in it. A piece of iron in the bed would keep away the sithean (fairies), a relic from the days when Goibnui the Celtic smith-god was associated with healing and protection. A burning peat carried sunwise seven times round the house was double insurance against abduction of the newborn babe by the sithean . Otters were thought to have a magical skin which acted as a charm against a difficult birth.     When Eighrig was born she would have been handed to and fro across the central hearth-fire three times in the name of the Trinity, then carried sunwise three times round the hearth in honour of the sun. A piece of silver or gold would be put into the water she was washed in and while the nurse splashed her with nine little waves all those present might have chanted an incantation which sums up the best that could be wished for any child. A wavelet for thy form A wavelet for thy voice A wavelet for sweet speech; A wavelet for thy luck A wavelet for thy good A wavelet for thy health; A wavelet for thy throat A wavelet for thy pluck A wavelet for thy graciousness; Nine waves for thy graciousness. Immediately after the birth the child was baptised by the midwife, or in Gaelic terminology, the knee-woman. In baisteadh ban-ghluin (knee-woman's baptism) three drops of water were spilled on the baby's head in the name of the Trinity with all present as witnesses, the reason being that if the child were to die unbaptised he or she could not be buried in consecrated ground. Near St Moluag's burial ground on the Island of Lismore there was a place known as Cladh na Cloinne gun Bailsteadh , the `Burial Place of the Unbaptised Children'. More often, however, these infants were buried in the dark between sunset and dawn in rocky inaccessible places. It was thought that such a child had no soul, only a spirit which could enter into a rock and become Mac Talla , Son of the Rock. This is also the Gaelic term for `echo'.     As soon as possible thereafter Eighrig would have been baptised by a priest. Her soul was now safe and her body protected from the power of the fairies to exchange her for one of their own. Baptism was a great social occasion. The infant was handed from person to person around the hearth in a sunwise direction. In true Sleeping Beauty fashion, every guest was expected to make a wish for the child, preferably in original verse. Some would have travelled a distance to greet a new relative, while godparents, or those anxious to please her father, would have presented her with a gift of a calf or perhaps a lamb.     An old tale, undoubtedly fictitious, but reflecting the superstitions of the age, relates how an old woman cried out when it was her turn to hold the infant Eighrig, ` Iseam deiridh linne cinnidh e no theid dholaidh !' (The last chicken of a brood comes to either grief or good). When Farquhar told her to pray for the child, she promised to make a charm that would protect her, but not others bearing the same name. `BLESS THIS HOUSE FROM FOUND TO SUMMIT' Eighrig's early years were spent in a farming community. Sadly, according to Peter Yeoman in Medieval Scotland , `the archaeology of medieval farming communities is one of the greatest mysteries of our past.' The nearest perhaps we can get to it is by looking at Finlaggan in Argyll, which was the headquarters of the Macdonald lords of the Isles and excavated in the 1990s. Although Farquhar was lord of Applecross, he was not in the same league as the powerful Somerled, progenitor of the Macdonalds, but probably his homestead was constructed in much the same manner.     Just as today in the Western Isles you can still find a white-washed modern bungalow built next door to a rectangular stone cottage with corrugated iron roof and beside it a low stone hut, still with its shred of blackened thatch, so there would have been a variety of styles in the thirteenth century. Farquhar's house was probably of cruck construction, that is a pair of curved timbers supporting a thatched roof, with wooden, turf or clay walls. Because Applecross was so near the Norse-owned islands, the building may even have had a stone sub-basement overlaid with a wooden floor. It would probably have measured about 6m (20ft) by 12m (40ft), and been divided into rooms with a fire in the central chamber.     Farquhar might even had had his own hall, not as grand as the one at Finlaggan which was 20m (66ft) long with a great high roof supported on stone corbels carved with human heads, but a sizeable place for feasting and celebration with a kitchen at the far end. As a place of sanctuary and pilgrimage, Applecross had many visitors -- warriors, priests, and traders -- and Gaels have always been renowned for their hospitality.     His homestead would have been set within some sort of enclosure, palisaded or stone-walled, which contained guest houses and smaller dwellings for his servants and relatives, including stables, a byre, a large barn and store houses. His position as lay abbot would have granted him teinds -- ten per cent of income usually paid in produce to the church -- and as landowner, an income from his scattered properties which would include venison, salmon, goats, pigs and calves, oats or barley, butter and cheese and skins which he in turn could trade for the luxuries of the day.     The farm would have been near the old monastery, perhaps built on the lush and level pasture where Applecross House stands today. The old monastic site was a ruin even in his day, but he would have seen to it that the tiny chapel -- perhaps the ruin in existence today -- was well-appointed with embroidered hangings and reliquaries, tended by a priest, and surrounded by the graves of his ancestors, including the saintly Maelrubha.     His servants in exchange for a rig or two of a field and a share of the grazing ground would have ploughed his acres with a team of oxen, fertilising the land with seaweed from the shore. But his true wealth -- like that of his neighbours -- lay in sheep and particularly cattle. A Highland chief was above all a cattle baron. The mountainous peninsula of Applecross was no bar to trade and raiding. The waters of the Minch and the Inner Sound were highways in continual use and cattle were regularly rowed or swum between the islands and the mainland. How large the community at Applecross was in those days it is impossible to know, but it is certain that it would have been self-sufficient, producing not only enough food to survive -- just -- during the long winter storms, but also young men to accompany Farquhar on his warrior expeditions.     Among the leaders of the community, the priest, probably a relative, would have had an all-important influence. The seanachie, an inherited position and almost certainly a relative, acted as genealogist and family historian, while the bard chanted poetry, satire and songs to the accompaniment of the harper. All these men were in direct descent from the druids, who had been the priests and law-givers, historians and poets of their race. The seanachie provided the family with a strong sense of its own value and standing in the world. The bard provided poetic inspiration, while the priest gave spiritual sustenance. These men would have kept a critical and guiding eye on the young Eighrig and her siblings.     There was certainly a blacksmith, one of the most important of all craftsmen to the farmer-warrior Gaels who needed weapons as well as axes and cooking pots. According to the Statistical Account of Scotland , in the eighteenth century Applecross supported three smiths who were `anciently' entitled to the heads of all slaughtered cows, `a privilege they still claim but it is rarely complied with'. Iron ore was obtained from peat bogs and smelted in the summer on the spot when the bogs were comparatively dry. There would have been carpenters to make the staved cogs and pails, tubs and churns and turned bowls, possibly a potter, certainly a baker and surely a tanner.     Boatwrights would have played an enormously important part in the community. Coracles made of hides stretched over wooden frameworks dating back into prehistoric times were still in use until comparatively recent years. By Farquhar's time the Gaels had started to use the clinker-built wooden ships with single masts and square sails evolved from Viking vessels. The West Highland galleys, carved on so many medieval tombstones, could take as many as twenty-four oars, while a birlinn took up to sixteen and in time of war carried three men to an oar. In the twelfth century Somerled, king of the Hebrides, had command of some hundred and sixty galleys. How many Farquhar had is unknown, but certainly he would have had several craft, both coracles and birlinns .     Although dangerous, travel by sea was generally preferable to over land with no roads and no bridges through the high mountain passes. Eighrig would have spent her scant free time on the shore waving farewell to her father and his warrior companions or watching anxiously for their return. In a country of about half a million people, Applecross may have supported a population of several hundred, led by Farquhar who was more often absent than at home. Eighrig's mother would have been responsible for the smooth running of the extended family, with perhaps Eighrig's grandmother, together with an elderly male relative, to help and advise. Eighrig would have learned at an early age how to take responsibility for the lives and welfare of a tight-knit community. `O BEING OF LIFE, SHEPHERD ME THIS DAY' The young Eighrig must have woken in her cradle to the country sounds of barking dogs, lowing cattle, the neighing of her father's horses, if he were at home, the chime of the chapel bell, and above all the noisy cocks. She would have been able to recognise the difference between the crow of the big cock -- remarkably accurate -- and that of the little cock who at under a year old was unreliable. When the big cock crowed it was safe to get up. The dangers of the night, supernatural and real, were gone for another day.     She would hear her mother or possibly a house servant rekindling the smoored peat fire and murmuring the first prayer of the morning. I will raise the hearth-fire As Mary would. The encirclement of Bride and of Mary On the fire, and on the floor, And on the household all. From then on her day would be punctuated with little croons of prayer or murmured charms for protection. Her childhood, indeed her whole life was imbued with respect for Christ's family and the saints, her human family and for the beautiful, unpredictable, all-encompassing family of the natural world. Before rising she would dedicate herself, her thoughts and words, her deeds and desires to God. As soon as she stepped outside she would reverence the sun. `Glory to thee, thou glorious sun. Glory to thee, thou face of the God of Life.' Until recently old men removed their caps at first sight of the sun. Perhaps some still do. Today, as in the remote past, the sun is a blessing unsurpassed by the most modern of conveniences to those who live between towering mountains and an implacable sea. It gentles, colours and warms a harsh world.     And it was a harsh world. Eighrig in the comparative luxury of her later life might well have remembered the drenching rain and driving winds that shook the rafters, blew acrid peat smoke into her eyes and chilled her to the bone; the stench of animal and human ordure from the midden, the mud and muck around her home; the daily grind of necessary chores. As soon as she was old enough she and her sister and the other young girls in the settlement would take their share of the numerous tasks that kept the women busy from dawn till dark. The first of these might have been to collect the eggs. The following chant sounds like a child's game. I will close my two eyes quickly, As in blind-man's buff moving, slowly; I will stretch my left hand over thither To the nest of my hen on yonder side. Soon she would be old enough to help with the milking, crooning to the cattle as she had been taught or in words of her own invention. Lovely black cow, pride of the shieling, First cow of the byre, choice mother of calves ... Ho my heifer, ho my gentle heifer My heifer dear, generous and kind ... She moves not against me feet nor head, She moves not against me hoof nor side; She fills the pitcher for the children After giving the calf his fill ... The beasts grew so accustomed to these songs sung with a lilt that often they refused to yield their milk without them. Herd-owners like Farquhar would prize milkmaids with sweet voices. One of the first things Eighrig would have learned was how to sing.     Then there was butter to churn. A long and wearisome task to judge by the length of the churn charms which urged the butter to come. As she grew stronger she would have taken her turn at fetching water from the Applecross river known to her as amhain Maree (Maelrubha's river) or from the well beside the monastery. Water from pagan times had a magical significance for Celts and certain wells or springs could harm or heal, grant wishes, or ward off the evil eye in return for a gift to the guardian spirit of the water. No doubt when Eighrig took her turn at the well in Applecross she crossed herself, turned three times sunwise, spilled three palmfuls back into the water and offered a prayer for protection, thus appeasing every deity.     At an early age she would have been taught to spin wool from her father's flocks. The spindle whorl dating back to the Iron Age was an old implement, even in the thirteenth century, and the process comparatively simple, if lengthy. Yarn was twisted and lengthened by the dangling spindle and weighted by the whorl, a stone with a hole in it. The spinner would wind the wool round a longer piece of wood called the distaff which she could carry in the crook of her arm while she herded cattle. The last woman known to spin with a distaff in Applecross was still alive at the beginning of the present century.     Linen was also fabricated in those long ago days, for warriors all wore the saffron-dyed tightly pleated linen shirt ( leine chroich ) in battle. Whether flax was grown in Applecross or imported there is no means of knowing but I. F. Grant in Highland Folk Ways writes that it grew well in the Highlands. `It was a troublesome crop, exhausting the ground and requiring hand-weeding (a woman's job).' It then had to be soaked to rot, a process known as retting and extremely smelly. The earliest looms for weaving were upright. They were in use all over the Highlands from prehistoric times. There would most certainly have been looms in Farquhar's community. Perhaps Eighrig helped to wind the bobbins for the weavers. This was seen as children's work.     She would have helped to collect the herbs used for dyeing the wool. Crotal, a coarse rock lichen, produced that reddish brown so typical of Harris tweed, while the roots of the yellow flag, still profuse at the edge of the lochs, gave a greyish blue. Lady's bedstraw produced red, a difficult recipe to get right. While I. F. Grant tells us that `the real expert can get a brilliant clear yellow from heather in flower'. Probably this rather than the rare saffron crocus was used to dye the warriors' shirts. It took hours to produce the dyes and as they could only be made in small quantities -- there were no vats in the Highlands -- it was almost impossible to match the different batches of wool. I. F. Grant suggests ingeniously that this may have been why Gaels wore checkered clothing.     Eighrig would have learned at an early age a prudent economy where food was concerned. As was the custom, her father would have kept an open table for his visitors, tenants and servants, but it was his wife's responsibility to see that there was sufficient food for all without wastage. The staple diet was milk and cheese, porridge and barley broth, eggs and fish and bannocks, but on feast days and festivals or entertainment of important guests there would have been roast beef, mutton or venison.     Ale brewed from a good part of the barley crop was regularly drunk. Whisky too -- uisge beatha the water of life -- was probably distilled locally from malted barley. Although traditionally it was thought to have been brought over from Ireland in the fifth or sixth centuries, archaeological excavation on the island of Rum in 1986 found spores and pollen suggesting that some sort of alcoholic drink was distilled there six thousand years ago. But Farquhar and his children may also have enjoyed imported wine. This was to become such a popular drink in the Hebrides that by the seventeenth century the Privy Council passed an act limiting its consumption by some of the chiefs to an amount between one and four tuns (500-2,000 gallons).     Eighrig's tasks would have been governed by the weather, the seasons and the festivals. The herds had to be taken to the hills in spring, returned to the harvested fields in autumn and to the homesteads in winter. Summer saw the collection of herbs for medicines and dyes, peat-cutting for the fires and autumn the ingathering of the harvest, the wild fruits and nuts. And so the days would pass, with no thought of book study. There were too many other lessons to be learned, too many tasks to perform. The local priest would have taught the children the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments but it is unlikely that she or indeed her parents would have learned to read or write. The seanachie would have taught her and her siblings their family history, making them chant their genealogy from the Irish King Niall of the Nine Hostages down to Farquhar himself. Gaels were above all proud of their ancestry.     Her mother or grandmother would have taught her how to knit, perhaps even how to embroider the rare and costly silks and damasks brought back by her father from his travels or imported in exchange for hides and produce. These might be used to adorn the chapel or make priestly vestments, but rarely for clothes. They were too precious.     The wise woman or man in the community with a knowledge of medicine would have taught her the use of herbs and charms for healing. The traditional medicines of the Highlands, combined with the correct incantations, were often extraordinarily effective, combining psychology with time-tested remedies. For example, St John's wort, known in Gaelic as Achlasan Choluim Cille (the Oxterful of Columba) was one of the most effective of all medicines. Traditionally Columba was said to have put the plant in the armpit of a herdsboy whose nerves had become upset by long and lonely nights on the hills. Thereafter he recovered. The armpit, like the groin, is well-endowed with nerve-endings, glands and blood vessels. Thus it readily absorbs treatment through the skin. St John's wort contains rutin which affects the flow of adrenaline and so alters the whole nervous system. St John's wort is known today as `nature's Prozac' and may still be used in the treatment of depression. Eighrig would have learned to murmur a prayer as she gathered the herb. ... I will pluck my Columba plant, As a prayer to my King, That mine be the power of Columba's plant Over everyone I see ... If Eighrig and her sister were talented musically they might have learned to play the harp to perform and accompany themselves singing not just to their father's guests in the hall but also around the hearth fire in the evening when the outdoor chores were done.     This was the best time of the day. Though the women's fingers would still be busy knitting and mending, while the men twisted twigs of heather into ropes or plaited bent grass into baskets and the boys perched precariously in the rafters and the girls hugged the grown-ups' knees and nursed the babies, this was the time for music, poetry and stories. Such stories!     If Farquhar and his companion warriors were at home, they would recount their adventures, perhaps a little exaggerated, but all the better for that. There would be much laughter, riddles and comic stories. Above all the Gaels enjoyed a joke and a tale of trickery. There would be serious discussions, too, on whether the king was introducing too many French and Flemish foreigners into Alba. Were Gaels not good enough for him? And Farquhar might try to explain why he continued to support the king rather than the rebels, although they were Gaels like himself.     The seanachie would recite favourite tales of feuds and challenges to single combat in the past, great sea battles lost and won by Farquhar's ancestors, and afterwards there would be discussion and argument and songs. Eighrig, her fingers twisted in the ruff of her father's sleeping deerhound, would listen enthralled. And she would learn and remember.     When the men were away - more often than at home -- the stories would change. Others would take their turn to tell tales of faery and romance, of magic and the second sight, of talking birds and kelpies and ghosts, of the Blue Men of the Minch, the giant bodach (old man) that slept under the mountain and the Cailleach Bheur (sharp old woman) with her blue-black face, her matted hair `white as aspen covered with hoar frost' and her rust-red teeth.     The Cailleach seems to have been a universal figure of fear in the thirteenth century. At one moment she could be a beautiful virgin, at another Thomas the Rhymer's Queen of the Fairies `her body as blow [blue] as ony bede' and thirdly that `loathly hag' described in Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale who when kissed by the hero-knight becomes as fair `as any lady, empress or queen'.     She was winter, `a wild hag with a venomous temper, hurrying about with a magic wand in her withered hand, switching the grass and keeping down vegetation to the detriment of man and beast'. When spring came she threw her wand into a whin bush and disappeared under a holly tree which is why no grass grows there. Eighrig had only to look out over the water to Skye to see her in the guise of a great menacing mountain rising beyond the island of Raasay. Here she kept prisoner a beautiful maiden whom her son loved. Only at the end of winter could the young couple escape together in spite of the great storms she raised to keep them apart. And then in her alter ego she became spring, the beautiful virgin who in turn became summer the nurturer, the queen mother of all fruitfulness.     Not only the seasons had their personalities and stories but also the trees and rocks and rivers. The landscape was full of haunts and giants and fairies. There would most certainly have been rowans in or about Farquhar's homestead to ward away ghosts. The hazel was sacred because of the `milk' contained in its green nut and because its wood was used to make fire by friction. Holly berries protected animals and humans from the evil eye. Birds and beasts, seals and sea creatures had their special place and personality in the family of nature and their stories were legion.     All this and so much more that has long ago been forgotten constituted Eighrig's schooling. A rich education indeed, passed on from one generation to another through the oral tradition of her race. And so the busy day drew to a close.     Perhaps Eighrig left the crowded smoky gathering to breathe the fresh night air and look up at the moon and the stars. If so she would sing to herself with wonder one of the many incantations which survive. (Continues...)

Table of Contents

The First Euphemia
The Second Euphemia
The Third Euphemia
The Fourth Euphemia
The Fifth Euphemia
Appendix I Genealogical Tables
Earls of Ross
Kings of Man
Freskin the Fleming
The Bruce Succession
The Randolph Family and Dunbar Connection
The Steward Succession
The Leslie Family
The Lindsay Connection
Albany's Family
The Scottish Succession
The English Claim
Appendix II Maps
The First Euphemia's World
The World of the Five Euphemias