THE meadow of Craiginnan near Dollar was once famous for the quantity of hay it produced annually.

There is an old legend associated with it concerning the fairies who worked there.

In the 18th century David Wright rented the old farm of Craiginnan. The farm servants cut the grass and it was custom to leave it to the fairies to manage it.

These fairies travelled from Blackford, Gleneagles and Buckieburn, and met on Saddle Hill before descending and dealing with the hay.

From sunrise to sunset they worked without stopping. They would spread it out so that the sun would dry it before putting it into coils, then ricks, and transport it to the farmyard where it was built into stacks.

David Wright never forgot the kindness of the fairies and paid them in kind. When it was time for sheep shearing, he would always keep a few of his best fleeces for the little people.

His farm far exceeded his expectation, but ill health plagued him. Due to this, he confided in his eldest son how the fairies had helped him over the years and told him to keep up the friendship with their 'gude neebors'

The old man died soon after but his son, it was said, was mean and greedy, with the advice given to him either forgotten or ignored.

Soon hay-making came around but young Wright, instead of allowing the fairies to help, decided he would keep the extra fleeces and ordered his servants to do the work instead.

On the first day, everything went well but the next morning when they entered the field, they were surprised to see the hay scattered all around.

Every morning was the same and this went on until the hay was no longer of any use. In revenge, Wright ploughed up green fairy knolls and fairy rings as well as other vengeful acts against the little folk. Of course, the fairies were angry.

One day, the dairymaid finished churning butter and carried it to the butter well on the east side of the house so it could be washed before going to market.

No sooner had she thrown it into the well than a small hand appeared on it, and in a split second, it disappeared below the water. She tried to grab it, but it was lost. She later said she heard a voice say, 'Your butter's awa' to feast our band in the fairy ha'.'

Soon afterwards, the livestock died, and Wright perished one night on his way back from Glendevon market at Glenqueich.

HOWEVER, the fairy folk are only a part of the story of the old Craiginnan farm that once stood the hill. In 1799 the farmhouse was inhabited by a Mr Guild, and his wife.

He was known locally as Old Craigie, possibly so-called because he lived and worked on the hill, herding sheep and cattle, and growing meal on the pastureland.

It is believed he was the last person to stay in the house, before he took up residence at the top of the High Street in Dollar, where he lived out the rest of his days.

The house was situated on the steepest part of the road, but both he and his wife were generally fit, having farmed on the hills.

The High Street was affectionately known by the locals as Craigie’s Brae for a time. Guild had sheep which were renowned for their wool and mutton, although most sheep farmed on the Ochils were known to be of good quality at the time, and sold well.

His wife was known for her generosity. In 1799 with food prices high and food itself scarce due to a poor harvest, she gave extra meal to the locals.

For as long as her stock lasted, she kindly gave a supply to all the locals who applied for it; and there were many from the village.

People found themselves on the verge of starvation, but with the couple being careful, they managed to eke out what they had to help their struggling neighbours.

James Christie’s father, a native of Dollar, used to tell his son a story of when he was a young boy. He and some other boys used to go up to Craiginnan to pick up some meal from Mrs Guild.

The Guilds are known to have employed a shepherd called John Christie. He stood out in Dollar as he was an educated man and had a library consisting of over 400 books.

He was not only well read but considering his wages would have been poor and books expensive to buy, it seems remarkable that he could afford so many. When he died, his books were auctioned off in the village.

It is unknown when Old Craigie, or indeed his wife, died but long after their deaths their generosity was still well remembered by the inhabitants.

The old farmstead eventually fell into disrepair and nothing remains of it today.

Craiginnan Gardens on the south edge of Dollar is named after its famous neighbour, and founded in 1897, the Masonic Lodge Craiginnan was established in the town.