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As a little nod to our Burns Week in school, I decided to tell a story to each 1st year class as part of their Reading Trail. I explained that folk-tales and legends were usually passed on by word of mouth, by people sitting listening to stories at night around their fires and were hardly ever written down. Robert Burns was certainly fascinated by local stories even if he took them with a pinch of salt.

And so all this week I’ve been retelling the story of Canonbie Dick (with the slight substitution of name to Richard Canonbie – I’m not completely insane).

Eildon Hills by spergold [Public Domain]

Eildon Hills by supergold [Public Domain]

Canonie Dick is a story of a horse breeder from the Borders who sells his horses to a stranger in the shadow of the Eildon Hills after unsuccessful market days. Eventually he asks to see where the stranger lives and is led deep inside the Eildon Hills. Lying beside each of his horses he sees a knight in full armour but the stranger will explain nothing. Eventually they come to a chamber and the stranger tells Dick to choose either the sword or the horn lying on the table before him. If he chooses correctly he will become a great king; if he chooses wrongly he will die.

Like all stories, my version was adapted and (hopefully) improved over several tellings, so that by this morning’s show, I had thought of putting the lights off and found a beautiful picture of the Eildons surrounded by mist to show on the Smartboard. Much more atmospheric.

And it worked. There was a  moment’s complete silence at the end … followed by some spontaneous applause 🙂 I was delighted the class enjoyed it so much – and stored away all the little tricks that worked.

This was the first time we’ve included any oral storytelling in the Reading Trail, but it worked incredibly well. Definitely to be repeated 🙂

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