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  The Fairy Folk in Orkney Lore

Deadly fairy rings

One aspect of fairy lore that does not apply to the tales of the trows is the phenomenon known as fairy rings.

In Orkney, these rings were not, as elsewhere in Britain, circular tracks where the grass was worn away, but narrow rings of short green grass on ground otherwise covered by heath.

There are few surviving traditions concerning these rings, but the following story, told by a schoolteacher, who worked in Hoy in the late 1920s, gives a very graphic example of the supposed power of the fairy ring:

"One day I went up to the top of the Ward Hill with a girl and her uncle and grandparents.

"We came on a dark green circle, and they said it was a fairy ring. On hearing this, the girl jumped into it, and the grown-ups were greatly annoyed.

The girl died very early in life.

Years afterwards I met the uncle in Edinburgh and began to speak about the girl.

'Aye', he said, 'she jumped into the fairy ring and look what happened to her!'"

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