Folklore and tradition
Away from the archaeology, Eynhallow, had, and
still has, an important place in the traditions and folklore
From the accounts of Jo Ben, allegedly written
in 1529, through to the "vanishing tourists" in 1990, the island remains
steeped in "magic".
Buffeted by wind and wave, the Eynhallow of Orcadian
tradition was an otherworldly place of sea-monsters and magic, appearing
and disappearing out of the shifting mists until mortal man finally
But Jo Ben, in his Descriptio
Insularum Orchadiarum, was keen to stress to his readers
that he did not believe in such "fabulous traditions".
"It is of old times related that here,
if the standing corn be cut down, after the setting of the sun,
unexpectedly there is a flowing of blood from the stalks of the
grain; also it is said that if a horse is fastened, after sun-down
it will easily get loose and wander anywhere during the night."
"Here you may discern the futitious and fabulous
traditions of these people."
Eynhallow, the island of the Finfolk, where no
rat, cat or mouse could thrive. An isle captured from these preternatural
beings by an Evie farmer out for revenge.
Guidman o' Thorodale seized the island, one of Orkney's two
legendary vanishing isles, after a Finman abducted his wife. Aided by his
sons, Thorodale cut nine crosses in Eynhallow's soil and circled
its shore three times, sowing nine rings of salt.
"And so the Finfolk's Hildaland was cleared
of all enchantment and lay bare. Empty and clean to the sight of
man and heaven. Then it was called Eynhallow - the Holy Isle - and
a church was raised there."
On this otherworldly place, surely there was no
better place for an ecclesiastical settlement - isolated by the
raging roosts that spawned the Orcadian rhyme:
Eynhallow fair, Eynhallow free
Eynhallow sits in the middle o' the sea
A roaring roost on every side,
Eynhallow sits in the middle o' the tide.