Iohn appeared in the arched doorway, crossed the small space, and rested his arms on the wall beside Niall. “Feeling better?” he asked.
“At times.” The summer breeze lifted Niall’s hair. He tugged his cloak closer. “Suppose it were true.” He turned to Iohn. “Suppose you fell asleep and woke up hoondreds o’ years on?”
“Go ‘won,” said Iohn. “Doona tell me ye believe in fairies!”
Niall laughed, not bothered by his ribbing. “I’ll no tell ye sich. But ’tis no the only story, what Rabbie told, o’ hoondreds o’ years passin’ when a man thinks ’tis but days or hours. Ye’ve heard the things Thomas the Rhymer claimed?”
“Aye.” Iohn nodded. “Being whisked away by the fairy queen for three days and findin’ seven years had passed. And they say there was ne’er a more honest man.”
The story of Thomas the Rhymer is among the most fascinating in Scottish history. Notice I do not say Scottish lore orlegend. Thomas the Rhymer, also known as Thomas of Erceldoune, or Thomas Learmonth, is a historical figure, a contemporary of Alexander III, who in fact prophesied Alexander’s death and warned the king not to set out for his new bride that particular dark and stormy night. He would have been an old man in Niall’s youth.
I filmed several songs in the Eildon Hills where Thomas lived, and filmed at a particular stone there. From myTravelPod blog:
We made a brief stop at the Rhymer’s Stone. This stone marks the place where True Thomas–Thomas of Erceldoune–Thomas the Rhymer (take your pick)–is said to have met the Fairy Queen who took him into Elfland for seven years. Thomas the Rhymer is a fascinating historical figure who makes this claim of having spent seven years in Elfland, at the same time he was widely known as ‘TRUE’ Thomas, because he could not tell a lie. What do we, in our modern, scientific, cynical age, make of this paradox? Having read about him on the internet is one thing. Standing at this stone, making the spot, gives one a little more pause. It becomes a little more real.
To read the historical facts behind the story, see Laura’s blog.