Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas de Ercildoun, Thomas de Ercildoune, Thomas Learmont, Thomas Learmonth, Thomas Learmount, Thomas Learmouth, Thomas Rymer, Thomas Rymour de Erceldoune, Thumas, True Thomas

A Scottish laird and prophet from Earlston (historically known as Ercildoune). We don’t know much about his life, he is mentioned in two charters from 1260-1280 and 1294. In the latter charter the following can be read: “Thomas de Ercildounson son and heir of Thome Rymour de Ercildoun.”

Thomas the Rhymer is a figure from Scottish folklore and ballads. He is considered to be the author of the romance Sir Tristrem. He lived in the thirteenth century and was renowned for his prophetic abilities and poetic skills. Thomas the Rhymer is often portrayed as a wandering minstrel and a courtier, known for his encounters with the Queen of Elfland.

According to legend, Thomas encountered a beautiful fairy queen while walking by the Eildon Tree (Eildon Hills) near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. The queen, sometimes identified as the Queen of Elfland, took Thomas to her realm, where he lived for seven years. During his time there, he was granted the gift of prophecy and the ability to compose eloquent poetry. However, he was also bound by a spell that prevented him from telling lies.

When Thomas returned to the mortal realm, he became known for his prophetic verses, which were said to be highly accurate. Many ballads and tales depict his encounters with various figures, including nobles, clergy, and supernatural beings. His prophecies often revolved around political events and the fate of individuals.

Thomas the Rhymer’s story has been passed down through generations in ballads and oral traditions. The most famous ballad about him is “Thomas the Rhymer,” also known as “True Thomas,” which tells the story of his encounter with the Queen of Elfland and his eventual return to the mortal world.

Glennie tells us that many traditions connect Thomas with Arthur, as

the unwilling, and too quickly vanishing guide of those adventurous spirits who have entered the mysterious Halls beneath the Eildons, and attempted to achieve the re-awakening of Arthur ... only to be cast forth.

The tradition recorded in Malory has Arthur lying not beneath the Eildons, but in Avilion (Glastonbury). Different spatial relationships, however, may hold in Faery than here on the surface.

See also
Castle of Ercildoune | The Legend of King Arthur