THE COMYN WHEEL by Faymarie Morris.

Musing on her family history, this story came lyrically to mind.

THE COMYN WHEEL  by Faymarie Morris.


The package came. I knew it would, I’d seen it in a dream.

The registered envelope contained official ream.

And the man who delivered it, with grudging aplomb

Had said with a sneer,” Well, I hope it’s not a bomb.”


But I knew that it wasn’t. I knew from the start

With complete certainty that it was a part

Of an ancient legacy, promised as a child,

When I grew of age. And the whole thing made me smile.


Because it’s all coming true. Great Uncle Percy said

When I reached twenty one, if I wasn’t wed

A document would come, informing me that I

Was the heir to a castle on the Isle Of Skye.


The tattered old parchment, with its red waxy seal,

Said the castle’s owner was the keeper of the wheel.

This seemed bizarre, what on earth could it mean?

Well, what if Uncle Percy’s words turned out to be real?


“There on your leg, child, you’ll find your destiny.”

I remember him saying this when I was only three.

“That odd looking birthmark, in the shape of a wheel

Is the wheel of Comyn.” And there it is, on the seal.


The castle was perched on the crest of a hill,

Surrounded with trees. The moat, wide and still,

Reflecting the battlements and some of the keep.

The smelly green water was loathsome and deep.

My castle, a fairytale, heard as a child,

Turned out to be real. I was truly beguiled.

Doubts and denials came into my head.

But I just dismissed them. My future was read.


John Comyn, a chieftain of Skye, it was said,

Long, long ago around the castle did tread.

Just like me now, exploring my fate.

If only I could open the bailey-wall gate.

But the key wouldn’t fit, however I tried.

I felt totally useless, no wonder I cried.

Then I noticed a carving cut deep in the wall.

As round as a cartwheel, a globe or a ball.

It was the wheel of Comyn and hanging from a nail

Was a rusty iron key that looked ancient and frail.


I tried it several times, but this key wouldn’t fit.

I knew it was the right one, but the rust was too thick.

So I tried once again as I touched my birthmark.

And the rust just fell away. The gate opened… Hark!


I looked straight ahead and in front of my eyes

The ruin grew whole and soon trebled in size.

How could this happen? I was suddenly scared.

But the spiral stairs beckoned me on, if I dared…

I started to climb. I was cautious at first

Then after a while I felt sure I would burst.

Curiosity had got the better of me

And someone was singing, but who could it be?


As I neared the top I stopped for a while

And through a slit window saw mile after mile

Of countryside, quiet as quiet could be,

With cows in the meadow and sheep in the lea.

I had to keep climbing, up to the top.

The singing grew louder. I wished it would stop.

With all of my strength I pushed open the door,

But my eyes wouldn’t take in all that I saw.


She sat on a bench near an open window.

With the sunlight behind her, she seemed to glow.

She was dressed like a lady from King Arthur’s time,

But her voice was off-key and her song didn’t rhyme.

I seemed to encroach on this time and space.

An outsider, a misfit in this age of grace.

My modern-day clothes were dingy and drab

With none of the splendour of medieval garb.


Her singing then stopped. She swiftly turned round

And her tapestry fell onto the ground.

She jumped to her feet and with outstretched arms

Ran straight towards me with no fear or qualms.

But who was she seeing with love in her eyes?

She kept calling me John, and I was surprised.

Her language was odd, but I still understood.

She held out her hand… and mine turned to wood.


John Comyn, Scottish chieftain and Earl of Badenoch

Fought beside an English king and earned this ancient rock

For bravery in battle in thirteen hundred and four

Where he lived with his comely wife, the fair Eleanor.

Robert Bruce decided that John Comyn never would

Support his plans to sieze the throne of Scotland, as he should.

So, on one fateful night, by the light of the moon,

‘The Bruce’ was crowned King, in the abbey church, at Scone.

Bruce then had John Comyn killed and ransacked his castles,

Killing his kinfolk and banishing his vassals.

His goods were confiscated and blood stained the land.

Eleanor refused to yield. Against him she did stand.


‘In this year of our Lord, 1306, Eleanor was put to death, in April,’ it was writ.

For her life and her honour she fought courageously. That the castle be spared was her only plea.


Ellie Cummins is my name and I’ve lived all my life

Knowing that my ancestry was steeped in blood and strife.

But now that the castle is back in Comyn hands

Fair Eleanor can rest in peace… while I roam foreign lands.

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