Tobar an Dualchais Kist O Riches

Tobar an Dualchais Kist O Riches

The voices of the past... brought to life through the latest technology

Julie Fowlis and Chris Wright were previously Artists in Residence at
Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches

This website contains oral recordings made in Scotland and further afield, from the 1930s onwards. The number of recordings online is now approaching 50,000.

The items you can listen to include stories, songs, music, poetry and factual information.

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Here you can enter keywords, people’s names, place names, School of Scottish Studies reference numbers etc

Welcome to the updated Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches web platform. We have created this interim site to replace the original site which had become fragile and was based on technology which is no longer supported. The University of Edinburgh has provided funding for EDINA to develop this site to ensure that access to content can be maintained going forward.

It has not been possible to replicate all of the complex and bespoke functionality of the previous site, so users may find there are some changes.

Almost 50,000 recordings are now available on the interim website.

The partners in Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches are currently working on a project to explore options for the future. To help us assess partners’ and users’ needs, we would be grateful if you could complete this short online survey:

Featured Item

A changeling child was believed to be a fairy child or elderly fairy who had been left by fairies in place of a human child. The human child would then be brought up by the fairies. Children were believed to be more susceptible to being stolen prior to being baptised.

There are different theories as to why a human child might be taken- some believed that it was to exchange a sickly or unattractive fairy child for a healthy, beautiful human child, while others thought that it was out of spite, or that the child would be taken to work as a servant. There was also a theory that fairies believed it was more respectable for fairy children to be raised by humans. In the case of elderly fairies being swapped, it was thought that they would be able to live in comfort, cherished by their human parents.

Incessant crying, constant feeding or eating vast amounts of food, or the ability to speak at a very young age were all signs that a child could be a changeling.

There were various ways of exposing a changeling and getting one’s own child back. One method was to expose the changeling to fire. The child would be held closely in front of the fire or suspended in a basket over it. If it was a changeling it would make its way up the chimney, sometimes hurling insults as it disappeared. Other methods of getting rid of a fairy changeling were to threaten to expose it to water or to tell it that the fairy hill was on fire.

In this story told by Nan MacKinnon from Vatersay, a women’s child is taken by the fairies and is replaced with a changeling. The child eats constantly and this arouses the woman’s suspicions. One day she pretends to leave the house but secretly watches through the window. The child begins to play the chanter and she realises he is in fact a changeling. She is advised by an old man to take the child to the shore and leave him on a rock as the tide comes in. The changeling takes on his real form - an old fairy man - and the woman refuses to rescue him until she gets her own child back.

Listen to Nan's story.