May 4 2012 Perthshire Advertiser Friday
A PAGAN site near Glenlyon in Perthshire was the scene of an annual spiritual pilgrimage this week.
At noon on Tuesday, 12 people came to visit the ancient Celtic shrine of Tigh nam Bodach.
In Scotland, May 1 is traditionally marked by Beltane celebrations welcoming the upturn of the seasons.
The spring worshippers made the two-hour journey by foot from the dam of Loch Lyon hydro reservoir. Beautiful sunshine made for a great walk through the mountain wilderness to Glen Cailliche. Songs in Gaelic were sung to the stones and the special rocks were doused in water from the burn.
Tigh nam Bodach means the ‘House of the Old Man’. The bell-shaped waterstones are believed to represent a family – the Old Man or Bodach, the Old Woman or Cailleach and their daughter, Nighean. Local legend suggests that over time the family gets bigger, with new stones reportedly appearing over the years.
Each spring, a local person opens the stone house and places the family of stones outside. Then at the autumn festival of Samhain, the stones are carefully wrapped up in a bed of marsh grass and put back inside.
It is recognised to be the oldest, uninterrupted pagan ritual in Britain, some say in all of Europe.
In August 2011 the little stone house was repaired and rebuilt by Crieff-based dyking expert, Norman Haddow.
And the Tigh nam Bodach stones had a narrow escape last year after plans had been lodged for four new hydro schemes on the Auch Estate near Loch Lyon. A construction track threatened to pass within metres of the sacred pagan site. The planning application was withdrawn in September, shortly before the sudden death of the landowner.