The Reverend Robert Kirk, a seventh son said to have been gifted with second sight, wrote the Secret Commonwealth of Elves Fauns and Fairies in 1691. The extraordinary book explores the nature and social structure of a race of supernatural beings, or fairies, that inhabited Doon Hill in Aberfoyle. The church where he served as Minister stands nearby, and Kirk would take daily walks there for exercise. In 1692 his dead body was discovered on the hill, having apparently collapsed whilst on his daily stroll. The story goes that shortly after his burial Kirk appeared to his cousin, Graham of Duchray, and informed him he was in fact not dead, but a prisoner in Fairyland. His release could be obtained at the baptism of his posthumous child, when his apparition would appear. Duchray was instructed to throw a knife over the apparition to ensure Kirk’s escape. However when the time came and Kirk duly appeared in the room his cousin, whether though surprise or terror, neglected to throw the knife and Kirk disappeared again.
To this day Robert Kirk’s spirit is said to be held in the Fairy realm, or else imprisoned in a tree standing on Doon Hill known as the Ministers Pine. The tree is festooned with ribbons and rags bearing wishes and petitions to the Fairies, an old custom practised in many places. The church now stands in ruins, but on the southeast side visitors can see a memorial to Robert Kirk, although this was only erected in 1793, a hundred years after his death!
Photo courtesy John Webster.Filed under Faerylore | Comments (4)