Yetholm stone is given special solstice seeing-to

editorial image

yetholm had its own answer to druid action come solstice time.

For a Perthshire “wise man” was invited to the village to liberate the gypsy spirits from a commemorative stone on the Kirk Yetholm green.

But rather than the monument being of ancient origins as the visitor thought, it was laid in September 2003 by former community council chairman and Yetholm gypsy authority Tom Tokely to commemorate the local travellers.

On the longest day of the year – June 21 – it is understood a villager hit the stone with a stick while the venerable Perthshire visitor, who lives in woods at Balquhidder, performed a ceremony, celebrating the solstice by releasing gypsy spirits he believed were trapped in the monument.

A villager commented: “The old gentleman was swathed in tartan and carried a drum which he played and he also sang. Some recent arrivals to the village joined in but established residents looked on in bemused amazement.”

Mr Tokely said: “I don’t think very much of it. They put stuff on the stone – ribbons and other things: I went across and took them off.”

Mr Tokely’s late brother Vic, who died in January 2003, used to give talks on the gypsies while Tom showed slides.

“My brother and I spoke about putting up the stone before he died and I put his name on it because he did a lot of research into the Yetholm gypsies,” said Mr Tokely.

The summer solstice carries significance for cultures worldwide, many recognising it as a time of fertility and holidays. Festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations are often held around that day.