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The Mermaid of the North



  • Writer's pictureDan

The Mermaid of the North

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

Scotland is a truly magical land. No wonder there are so many legends, stories and folklore. Today, we would like to share the story of the man who fell in love with a mermaid.

A long time ago, a Highlander living in Shandwick, one of the Seaboard Villages on the beautiful Tarbat Peninsula, needed to get some wicker to make a fence. He knew that there were many willow trees in the area, so he set off to the shores of the nearby river to get some.

On his way, he passed by the sea shore, where he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen: She had reddish long hair and was wearing a white gown. It was love at first sight. However, he noticed fairly quickly that the woman he had lost his heart to was a mermaid. She had left her tail next to her, to bath in the sun. He hid her tail, so the she had no other choice than to follow him.

They got married and had many children. The people of Shandwick thought she was rather peculiar as she did not mingle with the folk of the wee toon. However, she was a wonderful mother and she loved her children dearly. Nonetheless, the sea was calling her forever more and she searched her tail but could not find it anywhere. For without her tail, she could not return to her beloved sea.

One day, as her husband was out fishing with the older children, her youngest found her tail, hidden away. He was so excited to share the finding. His mother could not resist the calling of the sea and with her tail, she returned to the depths of the water.

After that day, every morning, wet footprints were leading from the house and fresh fish was to be found on the table to feed her family.

The Mermaid of the North is part of the Seaboard Sculpture Trail by artist Steve Hayward, created for the Highland Year of Culture (2007). Originally, the Mermaid was made from wood and resin, but the sculpture got damaged in a storm and was replaced by this bronze sculpture in 2014. The Mermaid of the North can be found in Balintore, where she sits on the ‘Clach Dubh’ ('Black Rock' in #gaelic).

Balintore is just one of so many lovely spots that can be found on the Tarbat Peninsula, which is famous for its rich Pictish Heritage and offers great walks too. Our favourite is the Tarbat Ness Coastal Walk, that takes you to Tarbat Ness Lighthouse and features stunning scenery throughout.

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