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Last update: 17th July 2012

Magnus Brough

I found a newspaper cutting in an old scrapbook (1890s) about one Magnus Brough, who was described as a genius "in his own way"; he built boats, made spoons, was a good mason, a better tailor, but, more interestingly for us, was "as a fiddler far superior to any in the whole islands. His love of music was intense, and the whole of his leisure time was devoted to it..." His wife could be a bit of a scold, and occasionally he'd get fed up of this and take his fiddle, "...he drew from it the sharpest scolding notes...then he would suddenly break out into the most violent sobbing strains of weeping..." which would either subdue his wife or make her stomp out of the room.

After his death it was discovered "...that he was not really dead, but had been removed by the good folk... [1]" Someone was hired to see if they could recover Magnus, but after three days they were informed that he "...was sitting in an iron-bound chair playing on a magnificent fiddle in a beautiful furnished house in the hill of Skellister, and his release was impossible..." I expect poor Magnus is sitting there still, fiddling away to the delight of the Trows.

[1] = The "good folk" refers to the Trows, the fairy folk of Shetland, who preferred Shetland fiddlers to their own musicians so much that good fiddlers going to and from parties etc would take a couple of friends with them.


Nigel Gatherer, Crieff, Perthshire | nigelgatherer@mac.com