A fiddler was rewarded for playing at a dead woman's wedding...

Date 22 September 1970
Track ID 67552
Part 1

Track Information

Original Track ID


Original Tape ID



A fiddler was rewarded for playing at a dead woman's wedding, but lost everything when he told what he had seen.

A woman out fetching peats fell dead in the peat stack. Some time afterwards, a fiddler had a long way to go to play at a wedding the next night. On his way he met a man who persuaded him to join him to play at a wedding that same night. The man warned the fiddler not to eat or drink anything other than what he gave him. When the bride came in, the fiddler recognised her as the woman who had fallen dead in the stack. He played for a bit, then the man accompanied him onto the road. The man gave the fiddler money and told him to buy a cow, which would flourish, but he must never tell anyone where he had been, what he had seen, or where he got the money from.

The fiddler bought a cow, which had calves, and he never told a soul, until finally he told his wife. After that the animals disappeared one by one until he had an empty byre again.

Mrs Anderson has been told the story but does not think it was a Fetlar story.

Recording Location

County - Shetland

Parish - Fetlar

Island - Fetlar

Item Location

County - Shetland


English, Scots




Catherine Anderson: There was a woman that was goin to the stack one day for peats, and she didn't come back. And when the people went to look for her they found her dead in the stack. They took her home and they buried her.

There were one night - there were a man 'at was goin to play to a wedding - he was a great fiddler and everybody was very anxious to get this fiddler when they had their wedding. So, as it was a long distance away from his hame, he thought that he would rise up and he would go about the night, to be in plenty of time. So he took his fiddle and he went up out to go away to that wedding. And on his way, he met a man and asked him where he was going. He said he was goin to play the wedding next morning, tomorrow: "I'm goin thenight so Ise'll be in plenty of time."

[The other man said:] "I'm havin a weddin thenight, so you'll come and play at my wedding." And then he says: "You can go to the [other] wedding tomorrow."

Na, he couldna do that, for he was frightened to be late for this wedding.

"No," he [the other man] says "I'll see that you're in plenty of time."

So, he turned him[self], and went with the man.

Now, the man says: "You're nother [neither] to eat or drink anything that anybody comes to you with, except what I give you." The man thought this was very queer but he said nothing. And when he come in, he sat him[self] down and he tuned up the fiddle to play. He was starting to play when the bride and bridegroom and they all came in to dance. And the first that he looked in the face of the bride - it was the same woman that was dead in the stack! He said nothing - whether she recognised him or not, he didn't know, but he recognised her! [...]

After a bit, the man came to him and said: "I think it's time now for you to go." And he says: "I'll follow you", and he came out with him. And he went away with him a while, and then he gave him money, and he said: "Now, [...] you'll buy a cow for this money." And he says: "You're to tell nobody where you've been, or what you've seen, or where you got the money from." And he says: "Your byre will flourish with cows. But if you tell anybody," he says "they'll soon disappear."

So the man [...] went to the [other] wedding and played at that wedding, and he told nobody. And he went away and he bought a cow. And the cow flourished and the neighbours was all envious of this man with this fine animals in his byre. Last of all, he thought he would tell the wife, and he told the wife the whole story. And after that, the animals disappeared one by one til he had an empty byre again.

[Question about whether it's a Fetlar story]

Source Type

Reel to reel

Audio Quality