Hello! I was hoping you could explain the whole "stone in the middle of the field" thing from that post about Irish fae folk? I'm really curious! Thanks!
Sure. You should note, though, that as a general thing in Ireland – meaning when you’re talking to just normal people you’d run into, not folklorists or those interested in fantastic fiction – the term “fae” is hardly used at all and will almost certainly confuse people who might hear you say it. Some might possibly think what you meant was “fey” in the older meaning of the word, i.e. a little (emotionally) unhinged or bizarre. Some – fewer, but it still could happen – might think you meant “fey” in the (slightly pejorative) sense of gay or otherwise not-cissexual. What people here call the daoine sidhe in conversation is normally – if they’re not particularly concerned about the propriety or impropriety of naming them in the first place – “the fairies” or “the fairy people”. Those who are concerned about it will say “you know, the Good People” or occasionally “the Little People”, or use one of the other similar euphemisms in English or Irish, of which there are a lot.
…Anyway. It’s something you see a lot here and there in the countryside. Just a field, and in the middle of the field, a big rock… and signs that the farmer has been working around it for a long time. Local people won’t normally make a big deal of it… just say something along the lines of “Sure it’s been there a long while, it’d be a lot of trouble to move it, we just leave it alone.”
These rocks in the great majority of cases haven’t been placed there by any human agency. Ireland experienced the Ice Age exactly like any other part of northern Europe – the west coast of the island is particularly eloquent in this regard: just look at the map – and as a result there will be “accidentals” dropped by retreating glaciers all over the place. The size of the dropped rock normally determines what happens to it over the course of time. Small ones get broken up and moved, sometimes taken away for building things with. Bigger ones may get left where they are because of any number of combinations of circumstance and accident.
And then of course you get the ones that have been sitting in one place for a very long time, in some cases thousands of years… long enough for the other Old People, the earliest Neolithic inhabitants, to have decided for themselves that a given stone was numinous, and to decorate it with the now-classic pre-Celtic spiral or comb-and-groove designs. At our end of time it takes an archaeologist with ground radar to determine with any certainty whether a given stone was brought to a particular site and emplaced there, or whether it just got decorated in situ.
Either way, I’ve noted over thirty years here that many Irish country people have a tendency to quietly treat very old things (like these all-by-themselves rocks, which might have been put there by somebody…) as potentially numinous whether they’re the work of very distant ancestors or not. I wouldn’t go so far as to think of it as superstition, though the tendency may be affiliated to it. There’s just a… sense… that some things by virtue of their great age have a kind of power about them, one that’s not particularly well understood and is generally better left alone.
But your neighbors are unlikely to admit this to you so straightforwardly. They may say “My granddad said to leave that alone” or tell you stories they’ve heard about bad things happening to people who messed with that stone, but it’s rare that they’ll come straight out and say they believe such. That said: that stone in the middle of the field there will probably just be left right where it is, and people will shrug and have all kinds of other more important things to talk about when the subject comes up.
Hope this helps. :)