Scotland: Fae Of Misty Isle

Scotland: Fae Of Misty Isle
Isle of Skye in summer Photo Credit: Shutterstock

These castles in Isle of Skye in Scotland are known for faeries

OT Staff
March 09 , 2023
04 Min Read

“Jerusalem, Athens and Rome

I would see them before I die!


But I’d rather not see any of the three

Than be exiled forever from the Skye!”

These famous lines are by Sheriff Alexander Nicholson, who would later become the first person to climb Cuillin peak (there are two ridges. Red and black. Which has this peak? Does it have a formal name?) in 1873. Today, more than a century later, Scotland’s Isle of Skye—also known as the Misty Isle—remains a place of sublime beauty. In the haunts of gloomy coastlines and rugged landscapes, old castles and fairy pools easily count as famous locations for many fantasy films.

But apart from cinema, storytelling also weighs heavily over this island, albeit in the form of old myths and superstitions. In fact, many scholars believe myths to be more significant than recorded history. Among many supernatural creatures, fairies (or faeries/fae in Middle English/French/Latin), are the inhabitants of the island. Other than fairies, the stories also extend to myths of sorcerers. These legends of the fae and sorcerers intertwine with the history of Scottish clans and play a significant role in battle narratives.

 Dunvegan Castle at sunset

Dunvegan Castle

The legend goes, during the time of the 27th chief, a child was laid inside a castle tower. Outside the tower, a night of feast and merriment was only beginning. In this merriment, the nurse left the child unattended inside the tower. The child who had been wearing a blanket kicked off his only source of warmth. Unattended and uncovered, the child was in grave danger, but luckily, a fairy appeared on the scene (although not all fae stories with children have happy endings) and covered the child in a golden silk robe. Later, when the feast was over, and the child was discovered with the robe (silk wasn’t as common as it is today), cries of a miracle filled the castle. The robe, which is now believed to be from Syria, or Rhode?? of the fourth century, is known as the “fairy flag.” It is the most prized possession of Dunvegan or McLeod’s Sky Fortress, located on the west coast of Scotland.

Dunscaith Castle

Dunscaith or Dún Scáith is a place where Irish and Scottish mythology finds a common point. It is located in the former county of Inverness-shire (fans of the series, Outlander, may be familiar with the name). As the legend goes, the Dunscaith Castle was home to Scáthach, the woman warrior-sorceress of medieval Irish legends. As per the local legends, this castle was an academy of many aspiring sorcerers who crossed oceans to learn from Scáthach. Due to her teaching ‘dark arts’ here, this castle is also known as the “fortress of shadows.” In Ulster Cycle, the old Irish tale, also known as the Red Branch Cycle, Cú Chulainn, the hero, is sent to Alpae, or the Alps, to learn from Scáthach. Reflecting on this legend, one can take a lesson to compare the beauty of the Isle with the sublime beauty of the Alps, and find them to be equals. While the castle is in ruins now, it continues to be a majestic site.

Duntulm Castle

This castle sits on the rugged northern coast of Skye. Once a mighty stronghold of the Macdonald clan, this castle is said to be cursed by a vengeful fairy woman who was mistreated by the clan. As the legend goes, the curse caused the castle to crumble and collapse into the tumultuous sea, leaving nothing but ruins behind. Locals claim that the ghost of the fairy woman still haunts the ruins, her anguished cries echoing across the stormy coastline.

A picturesque shot of Castle Moil

Castle Moil

Castle Moil sits on a small island just off the coast of Skye. This castle, believed to have been built by the Norse in the 11th century, has a much more adventurous tale to tell. According to legend, the castle was once home to a fearsome giant who terrorised the local villagers. But one day, a brave group of fairies banded together to take down the giant once and for all. Using their powerful magic, they cast a spell on the giant that caused him to shrink down to a tiny size. And so, the once-terrifying Castle Moil was saved by a daring group of fairy warriors.

These are just a few among many locations in Scotland where the mention of fae is not outlandish, but very much a part of culture and history.

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