Tales for Troubled Times

~ Folktale Archive ~


Tom's original greeting from what has become the Tales for Troubled Times folklore archive:

"In these surreal days of illness and self-isolation due to COVID-19 I found myself wondering what more I can do to help people get through the long days. If ever there was a need for stories, then this is it.

I'm recording rough, one-take stories of favourite folk tales. I must admit, they are rougher than I would normally do. All the stumbles are left in. This is not about showcasing my storytelling skills. It's not about 'me', it's about us.

These are stories that I don't normally tell, as well as old favourites. The lack of an audience is a great miss. It is just me, alone in an attic bedroom with a small recording device on a cushion.

I hope you find some tales that help to get you through the day and imagine better days. Please take care and stay safe.

Love, Tom."


(Tales especially for the bairns are here.)

~ Tales for everyone ~


Insight into the creation and meaning of the haunting Eynhallow holy island trilogy below is in Tom's blog for Orkney Museum.

Eynhallow Laments ~
The Fin Folk's Lament


Eynhallow Laments ~
Brother Dagfinn's Lament


Eynhallow Laments ~
Clara's Lament


Tom Visits with Orkney Band "Fara"

Recorded in Orkney's wonderful Kirbuster Farm Museum, Tom tells The Hogboon of Helliehowe and Fara play "Hogboon Hoolie" created especially for this Orkney folktale.


The Dead Wife Among the Fairies

A story of lost love from the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay


The Mill that Grinds at the Bottom of the Sea

Showing how stories develops, this is a version of a story that I recorded earlier, but collected 1,000 years after the first one.


The Green Man of Knowledge

This is an epic Scottish Travellers tale which follows the adventures of Jack the Fool, who seeks his fortune ... and finds it.

The story is nearly two hours long, so you might want to listen to it in bits.


The Bride of Ramray

A strange selkie story from the Orkney island of Graemsay


The Three Pieces of Advice

A Scottish folk tale showing that good advice can be worth far more than money


The Shetland Fin Wife

A folk tale from Orkney about a man shipwrecked on Shetland who wanted to be home for Christmas


Hild, the Queen of Elfland

A folk tale from Iceland about a woman who was actually the queen of Elfland under a curse

Some of these stories are also available in Tom's folklore books.



~ Tales especially for the bairns ~


Clever Kitty

A Scottish folk tale about a clever girl who must outwit a giant


The Hedgehurst

A Scottish Traveller tale from Duncan Williamson about a creature who is half man and half hedgehog


The Three Billy Goats Gruff

A much loved, classic Norwegian folk tale


Jack and the Beanstalk

A well known classic English fairy tale about a boy, some beans and a giant


The Three Little Pigs

An English folk tale ~ be careful what you beg for when building a house!


The Hobyahs

An English folk tale and the first story that I ever told, 50 years ago



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  • From Scotland's Orkney Islands - hear free audio folktales and Scottish island lore, told to you by Orcadian folklorist and storyteller Tom Muir. #Orkneyology.com

    Mermaid image (Rhonda's pages) and storyteller image (Tom's pages), and all other illustrations except where noted are here by the courtesy of our dear friend - Stromness author, artist and historian, Bryce Wilson MBE, who owns all copyrights. Thanks, Bryce!