The Welltown Brownies

Over 100 years ago, in a small village called Welltown, near Blairgowrie, lived a blacksmith named Abram Low. One night, he stumbled upon a hillock, which opened to reveal an enormous gathering of Faerie Folk, singing and dancing away. “Welcome, welcome, Abram, For ever and for aye.” they cried. “Never a bit,” replied Abram, “But for a night and a day.” After spending the night in fairyland, Abram gained all his superior wisdom, and from that moment on, he was assisted by two brownies at the smiddy, who would happily strike the hammer for him. One day, Abram had to leave the smiddy. He let his assistant in on the secret, that the brownies would do the work, but must not be spoken to, or they would disappear forever. Of course, the assistant was so impressed by the quick, hard work of the brownies he exclaimed “Well struck Red Cap! Far better, Blue!” Instantly the brownies stopped, and glared at the assistant. “Strike here, strike there… we’ll strike nae more wi’ you!” and with that, they vanished. 

Some months later, Abram was coming back to the smiddy late at night, through the dense woods alongside the Black Loch. In the gloom, something caught his eye, and startled, he forgot himself – “Hello, Blue Cap!” The brownie leapt to his feet, fuming at being recognised and spoken to. “Blue Cap or Red Cap, wha’ere I may be, Red Cap or Blue Cap, you’ll see nae mair o’ me!” And in the blink of an eye, he was gone, never to be seen at Welltown again.

Artist’s Note: What I love about this tale is that Abram Low actually was a real blacksmith, who really did live at Welltown, and his story is recorded in a book written by his great-grandson. Above the front door of the cottage where he lived was a lintel stone, carved by Abram himself, featuring his two brownies either side of the anvil. Sadly the house has since been demolished and no trace of the stone remains. But maybe the legend will still live on, through Abram’s descendants – my own mum’s maiden name was Low, and was brought up in Blairgowrie, amongst her family of blacksmiths. Is there an ancestral connection? The mystery remains… it certainly would explain my love of folklore!