Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/329

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Collectanea. 299

ally by a man known personally to the owner of the witch-stones. He wore it suspended from his neck as a protection against witch- craft. The wearer, D. McL., was a native of Wester Ross, and had great confidence in the efficacy of his talisman. There is no history of how or when he procured it. It is a piece of grey steatite, and, like many pieces of steatite, has pink markings on it. These may have suggested blood-stains. To judge by its appearance and the style of carving, it seems to have come from India, but for what purpose it was originally made no guess is hazarded.

III. On the right of the photograph are two " celts." The lower one is nearly black (basalt ?), the upper one is of a very light grey and in perfect condition. Both are of hard close-grained stone. The interest attaching to them is that they are " fairy arrows." They were found at Mulindry Glen, near what appears in the maps as Dun Nosebridge, locally called Nosbreac, Islay. The original owner of them, when handing them to the lady from whom they were received, said " they were in the possession of her father and her grandfather and were always called saigheadan shith and were saigheadan shith." In Eigg these seem to be called Ceapa-Sithein, as if they had been used for blocking some- thing on, as a shoemaker's last is used. In Walker's Historical Memoir on' the Armour and Weapons of the Irish, he says (p. 126): "Mr. Owens, the editor of Rowland's Motia Antigua, seems decidedly of opinion that the celt, an instrument so-called from our ignorance of its use, was employed as a sling-hatchet." The date of this essay is 1788. Further back still we know of the Leacan Laoich Alilidk, " champion's hand stone," described by O'Curry {Manners and Customs, ii., p. 277) as "a half" or modified " flat stone " ; " for leac means a perfectly flat stone, so that leacan must mean a stone partaking somewhat of the flat form." This he identifies with the so-called "celt," and details how it was kept in the boss of his shield and used as a projectile by Fergus Mac R6igh {temp. Cuchullin). As the Islay woman the other day having never seen such an article in use called it, traditionally, a " fairy arrow," so we may consider that the early Gaelic writer was also speaking of what he had seen, but of which the proper use was a subject of conjecture ; in fact, that the story was written at a time when celts had become objects of speculation to the curious.