We believe him to have been born before 1100, and so to have been a contemporary of Frakark, Thorbiorn Klerk, and Olvir Rosta, of Jarl Ragnvald, of Margret of Athole, Erlend Haraldson and Sweyn, and also of Harold Maddadson; and to have won his Duffus estate, as an addition to his lands at Strabrock, about 1120 or at latest 1130, before or after the crushing defeat, at Stracathro, of the Picts of Angus and Moray; and between these dates to have built the Castle of Duffus on the bank of Loch Spynie, in order to check Norse raids on the Moray coast while the Norse held Turfness or Burghead; and we know that he entertained King David I there during the whole summer of 1150, while that king was superintending the building of the Abbey of Kinloss.
Then the crowd rushes upon it, demolishes it, and scrambles for the burning, smoking embers, which they carry home and carefully preserve as charms to protect them against witchcraft and misfortune. The great antiquity of Burghead, where this curious and no doubt ancient festival is still annually observed, appears from the remains of a very remarkable rampart which formerly encircled the place.
Hence, at the time of casting peats, every one laid aside a large one, saying, 'Faaid mooar moayney son oie'l fingan'; that is, 'a large turf for Fingan Eve." At Burghead, an ancient village on the southern shore of the Moray Firth, about nine miles from the town of Elgin, a festival of fire called "the Burning of the Clavie" has been celebrated from time immemorial on Hogmanay, the last day of December.
A great battle ensued near the Norse stronghold of Turfness, probably Burghead, where peat is found in abundance, though now submerged; and the battle was fought at Standing Stane in the parish of Duffus, three miles and a half E.S.E. of Burghead, on the 14th of August 1040. The Saga gives the following description of the jarl and of the fighting:
Young concludes as follows: "It is proved that the fort at Burghead was raised by a people skilled in engineering, who used axes and chisels of iron; who shot balista stones over 20 lbs. in weight; and whose daily food was the bos longifrons. A people who made paved roads, and sunk artesian wells, and used Roman beads and pins. The riddle of Burghead should not now be very difficult to read."
They were never imposed on the Moray seaboard, which was not permanently held by the Norse. Freskyn and his descendants saw to that. His fortress at Duffus checked all raids from their fort at Burghead. Of outward and visible monuments, save here and there a howe or grave-mound, the Vikings, unlike their Pictish predecessors, have left us little or nothing on the mainland.
Thomas's Day in the Isle of Man, 266; the "Burning of the Clavie" at Burghead on the last day of December, 266-268; Christmas procession with burning tar-barrels at Lerwick, 268 sq. The Need-fire, pp. 269-300.
The voice was that of the gallant sailor already referred to; the others were too much exhausted to utter a word. McIntosh, the pilot from Burghead, expired from sheer cold and exhaustion. None who saw him perish soon forgot the fearful agony of his daughter as she bade her father farewell from the parapet of the breakwater.
"`The sum of 9 pounds has recently been given by the National Lifeboat Institution to a boat's crew, in appreciation of their gallant conduct in putting off in a salmon-coble, during a heavy gale of wind, and rescuing, at great risk of life, the crew of four men of the schooner Thankful of Sunderland, which was totally wrecked off Burghead, n.b., on the 19th July.