Elphillock, Kildrummy, Aberdeenshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NJ 4907 1274

Also Known as:

  1. Elf Hillock

  2. Elphhillock

Archaeology & History

There is some confusion as to whether this mound of earth, barely four feet high but some 50 feet across, is actually prehistoric.  But the folklore has that common ring to it, found at olde sites from Cornwall to northern Scotland, speaking of old tombs and ancient ways…


In modern times apparently, earthlights have been reported flitting about around this earthen ridge, but the old mound has older, more familiar tales spoken of it.  In Rev. Williams’ (1901) article on the folklore of Stirlingshire, he made a considerable detour to tell of some old faerie-lore he’d heard when he was younger, from the prehistoric tomb on the northern side of Elphillock, a few miles south of Kildrummy.  In talking with some of the local people about old beliefs, one local man told him:

“The fairies of my native parish made their abode in a round knoll, known as Elfhillock.  My friend, James Smith, now no more, was ploughman at Cairncoullie, in the neighbourhood.  Passing the hillock one evening, he heard the sound of music and dancing.  James drew near to the spot and saw the revels.  He waited and enjoyed himself for a short space and then returned to Cairncoullie and went to bed.  He found to his amazement that he had been away a year and a day!  Every field on the farm and the new ploughmen bore evidence to the fact; and Jamie believed till his dying day that he was a year older than he was aware of, and all because he had given heed to matters he had no business with.”

Not only were the little people said to live within this small tomb, but the hillock must also be cared for and never damaged.  Rev. Williams also narrated that the grandfather of the same local man told him that he had,

“pulled some heather from this elf hillock.  He was compelled by the women to replace it, otherwise he would have to encounter the wrath of the fairies.”

Thankfully the old hillock is still here, just off the roadside.  Not far from here are a number of other prehistoric sites with faerie and ghost-lore and mythological place-names, long since fallen into memories old…soon to be lost perhaps…


  1. Williams, George, “Local Superstitions,” in Transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Archaeological Society, 1901.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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