The Scottish Bluebell Fairy–Beth Trissel

Path Through Bluebell flowers

The Scottish Bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) are known by various names, most commonly harebell, also Scottish bellflower and fairies thimble, as it was widely thought fairies live among the flowers. I don’t make this stuff up; these fascinating tidbits are from:

“These lovely flowers have been around for centuries. Legend has it that fairies live among them and humans should be wary of disturbing them.”

Scottish Bluebells“The name, Harebell, has its roots in magic. The name came from the fact that Scottish Bluebells are found growing in meadows frequented by hares. Some would argue, the name Harebell was given this flower due to the fact that witches were known to turn themselves into hares and hide among them. Both are interesting stories, one for the non-believer and believer alike.”

The flower is a favorite among poets. Two famous examples listed on the site:

Sir Walter Scott mentioned it in his 1810 poem, “Lady of the Lake;” “A foot more light, a step more true, Ne’er from the heath-flower dashed the dew; E’en the slight harebell raised its head…”

Emily Bronte wrote, “I lingered round them, under the benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.” in her book, “Wuthering Heights,” published in 1847.”


Scottish bluebell fairyAnother name for bluebells is Dead Man’s bells. This is due to the fact that fairies were believed to cast spells on those who dare to pick or damage the beautiful, delicate flowers. The people of Scotland are fond enough of the flower to continue this tradition in the hopes of protecting the little flower.”

Apparently, when meandering through drifts of bluebells, it’s wise to stick to the path, or you may stir up the wrath of fairies and release the spells trapped in the blooms. Never a good idea, and one that would be echoed by our resident fairy expert, my eight year old niece, Cailin, who warns never step into a circle of flowers or go anywhere without the fairies’ permission. Or they will get very upset. And you do not want an upset fairy, or fairies, on your hands. Particularly the furious wind fairies, but that’s another story.

*Royalty free images

7 responses to “The Scottish Bluebell Fairy–Beth Trissel

  1. I loved this post, Beth. Before I read far, I thought of your niece and her fairies. When I got to the part in which you refer to Cailin, I smiled. Lovely post and photos. Thanks for a refreshing break.


    • Thanks so much, Caroline. When Cailin was over here last month, she inspired me to look up lore about the bluebell fairy. She was fascinated. It just took me awhile to get around to doing the blog post.


  2. Lovely post.I will be sure to stick to the path!


  3. Your pictures are beautiful and the “history” was fun. I have to wonder though if these are the same flowers/weeds that have been trying to take over my yard/garden since we moved into this house 20 years ago. I know they are called Scottish bluebells, but the flowers are pretty small and sparser than those in your photos. Maybe some North American variation? Anyway, the plants I have are pretty invasion and can put up with almost anything, including dry shade. What looks beautiful in a woodland forest doesn’t always work in a cultivated garden!


  4. Pingback: Wild Bluebells | Doug's Writings, Musings and Art

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