by 19th May 2022

It was more than eight hundred years ago, in the days of Olaf Goddardson, that Baron Kitter, the Norwegian, lived in Mann. He had his castle on the top of Barrule, and he spent all his time in hunting the bisons and elks that were on the island then, until he had killed them all. Then the people began to be afraid that he would chase their cattle and the purrs of the mountains, and leave them no beasts at all, so they went to the wisest witches of the island, to see what they could do.

One day Baron Kitter had gone over to the Calf to hunt the red deer there, leaving his cook, Eaoch of the Loud Voice, in the castle to cook his dinner. Eaoch set the pot on the fire and then fell asleep over his work. While he was sleeping the witch-wife Ada put a spell on the pot, and the fat boiled over into the fire. Soon the house was in flames. Eaoch woke and shouted for help at the top of his voice, and his cries were so loud that they reached the ears of Kitter and his fellow huntsmen, ten miles away on the Calf.

When Kitter heard the cries and saw the flames on the top of Barrule, he made for the beach as hard as he could, and put out in a small currach for the island, with most of his friends. When they were in the strong current about half-way across the channel, the boat struck on a rock and they were all drowned, and the rock has ever since been called Kitterland.

The rest of Kitter's friends, who had stayed on the Calf and so saved their lives, believed that Eaoch, the cook, had made a plot with the witches of the island to do away with all the Norwegians in Mann, so they brought him before King Olaf to be judged, and he was condemned to death. But according to the custom of Norway, he was allowed to choose how he would die.

Then he said:

'I wish my head to be laid across one of your Majesty's legs, and there cut off by your Majesty's sword Macabuin, which was made by Loan Maclibuin, the Dark Smith of Drontheim!'

It was known to every person there that the king's sword could cut the hardest granite, only by touching it with its edge, and they all begged Olaf not to do as crafty Eaoch asked. But the king would not break his word and gave orders that all should be done as the cook had said.

But the witch Ada was there and she told them to take toads' skins, twigs of the cuirn tree, and adders' eggs, nine times nine of each, and put them between the king's leg and the cook's head. They did this, and then the great sword Macabuin, made by Loan Maclibuin, was lifted with the greatest care by one of the king's faithful servants and laid gently on the cook's neck, but before it could be stopped Eaoch's head was cut from his body and the adders' eggs and the cuirn twigs were also cut through- only the toads' skins saved the king's leg.

When the Dark Smith heard how the power of the great sword Macabuin had been stayed by witchcraft, he was very angry, and called for his Hammer-man, Hiallus-nan-urd, who had lost one leg when he was helping to make the sword. He sent him off at once to Peel Castle to challenge King Olaf, or any of his men, to a walking race from Peel to Drontheim.

King Olaf himself took up the challenge, and off they set. Over mountains and through gills they walked, as fast as they could go, and the one-legged man as fast as the king. When they had crossed the island they each put out to sea in a sailing boat, and each came in sight of Drontheim at the same moment. When they drew near to the smithy, the Hammer-man, who was ahead, called out to Loan to open the door, and Olaf called to him to shut it, and then, pushing past Hiallus, got into the smithy first.

To show that he was not at all weary after his walk Olaf took up the great hammer of the forge and struck the anvil such a mighty blow that he split it through, and the block beneath it, too. When Emergaid, the daughter of Loan, saw the strength and power of Olaf, she loved him; and while her father was putting back the block and anvil, she whispered to the king: -

'My Father is doing that, so that he may finish the sword he is making. It has been foretold that the first blood it shall shed shall be royal blood, and he has sworn that that blood shall be yours.'

'But is not your father the seventh son of Old Windy Cap, King of Norway?' cried Olaf.

'He is,' said Emergaid.

'Then the prophecy shall be fulfilled,' said Olaf, and he thrust the sword into the heart of Loan, and afterwards slew with it the Hammer-man also.

He made Emergaid his queen and they ruled together, and from them came a longline of Kings of Mann.

Source:  Sophia Morrison - Manx Fairy Tales, London 1911



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Posted by Yabsta
19th May 2022 9:40 pm.
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