Thomas was a real Scottish laird who lived in Scotland in the 13th century, though there is confusion over his name which was either Thomas Learmont or Thomas de Ercildoun. Evidence of his existence is found in charters from 1294 and 1260-80 that mention him. Although there is speculation that it was the prophetic verses that earned him his nickname it is thought more likely this came from a corruption of his surname. His father was named Thome or Thomas Rymour de Ercildoun. Ercildoun was the name of the modern village of Earlston in Galashiels which is situated about 30 miles southeast of Edinburgh.
In his time Thomas was a widely respected prophet and clairvoyant with many of his predictions coming true. He successfully predicted the death of King Alexander lll, the succession to the throne of Robert the Bruce, the defeat of Scotland in 1513 at Flodden and in 1603 the union of crowns His talent for accurately foretelling the future is associated with his ability to create verse which was seen as the language of prophets.
When ever he took up his harp to play or cleared his throat to sing all present; princes, nobles or peasants, would fall silent and stand in joy and awe at the sweet music he made. All who heard were touched, for his voice and words stirred the emotions and his fingers that played upon the strings of the harp, stroked, strummed and soothed the people’s hearts. He could move people to joy and then to sorrow and then back again and held all who heard him in the palm of his hand. Although he was widely regarded as a gifted seer and comparable to Merlin and a talented singer and harpist he had not been born with these abilities and it was widely believed he been given them by the Queen of Elfland herself. Presented next is a retelling of how Thomas met the Queen of Elfland and was given his remarkable talents.