Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/345

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The European Sky -God. 331

At Strath in Skye there is a tradition that St. Maree

used to preach, and that he hung a bell in a tree, where

it remained for centuries, dumb all the week, but ringing

of its own accord all Sunday.^ At Contin, too, there is

a burial ground called Praes Maree or ' Maree's Bush.'^

The inference that St. Maree had a sacred tree or bush

rises to a certainty, when we take into account the

evidence concerning Inchmaree, an island in Loch

Maree. Pennant, who visited the place in 1772, describes

it as 'covered thickly with a beautiful grove of oak, ash,

willow, wicken, birch, fir, hazel, and enormous hollies. In

the midst is a circular dike of stones, with a regular

narrow entrance : the inner part has been used for ages

as a burial place, and is still in use. I suspect the dike

to have been originally Druidical, and that the antient

superstition of Paganism had been taken up by the

saint, as the readiest method of making a conquest over

the minds of the inhabitants. A stump of a tree is

shewn as an altar, probably the memorial of one of

stone ; but the curiosity of the place is the well of the

saint; of power unspeakable in cases of lunacy. ... I

must add, that the visitants draw from the state of the

well an omen of the disposition of St. Maree : if his

well is full they suppose he will be propitious ; if not

they proceed in their operations with fears and doubts :

but let the event be what it will, he is held in high

esteem : the common oath of the country is, by his

name : if a traveller passes by any of his resting-places,

they never neglect to leave an offering ; but the saint is

so moderate as not to put him to any expence : a stone,

a stick, a bit of rag contents him.'^ St. Maree's tree

and well are still to be seen. Miss Gertrude M. Godden *

^Miss G. M. Godden in Folk-lore iv. 506. '^■Ead. ib.

^ T. Pennant A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides Chester 1 7 74 p. 330.

  • Miss G. M. Godden ' The Sanctuary of Mourie ' in Folk-lore iv. 498-

508, with an illustration of the tree.