Celtic Myth Podshow News

Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

Category: Scotland (Page 1 of 16)

Creatures of Scottish Folklore: The Shellycoat

THIS is a freakish spirit, who delights rather to perplex and frighten mankind than either to serve or seriously to hurt them.

Shellycoat, a spirit who resides in the waters, and has given his name to many a rock and stone the Scottish coast, belongs to the class of bogles.

When he appeared, he seemed to be decked with marine productions, and in particular with shells, whose clattering announced his approach.

From this circumstance he derived his name. One of his pranks is thus narrated:–”

Two men, on a very dark night, approaching the banks of the Ettrick, heard a doleful voice from its waves repeatedly exclaim, “Lost! Lost!” They followed the sound, which seemed to be the voice of a drowning person, and, to their infinite astonishment, they found that it ascended the river.

Still they continued, during a long and tempestuous night, to follow the cry of the malicious sprite; and arriving, before morning’s dawn, at the very sources of the river, the voice was now heard descending the opposite side of the mountain in which they arise.

The fatigued and deluded travellers now relinquished the pursuit, and had no sooner done so than they heard Shellycoat applauding, in loud bursts of laughter, his successful roguery. The spirit was supposed particularly to haunt the old house of Gorinberry, situated on the river Hermitage, in Liddesdale…

Shellycoats are considered to be relatively harmless to man ; they may mislead wanderers, particularly those they think are trespassing upon the their territory, but generally without malice.



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The Life and Loves of a Bagpipe player

The Australian Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader may occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum but they were united before the Celtic skirl of Bruce Grice’s pipes in Brisbane in 2010, reported the Brisbane Courier.

On the eve of St Patrick’s Day, the pair were guest speakers at the Queensland Irish Club’s annual dinner, where pipe major Grice has been piping prime ministers, premiers, ambassadors and heads of state for more than decade.

He’s also a pig. An Irish pig, or at least a member of Murphy’s Pigs, he says as he sits in the sepulchral quiet of the main function room of the Irish Club, the chairs stacked and mid-morning sun playing across the leadlight windows. It will be a different scene on Tuesday, the room crowded with the good and the great for one of the country’s pre-eminent St Patrick’s Day dinners, the conversation and claret flowing in equal quantities.

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The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt By Sigurd Towrie

“When the winter winds blow and the Yule fires are lit, it is best to stay indoors, safely shut away from the dark paths and the wild heaths. Those who wander out by themselves during the Yule-nights may hear a sudden rustling through the tops of the trees – a rustling that might be the wind, though the rest of the wood is still.

“But then the barking of dogs fills the air, and the host of wild souls sweeps down, fire flashing from the eyes of the black hounds and the hooves of the black horses”

Kveldulf Hagen Gundarsson (Mountain Thunder)


In Orkney, indeed, across most of northern Europe, belief in the Wild Hunt was once widespread. In the islands, little remains of the belief today.

The form of the Wild Hunt, or Raging Host, varied across each of the geographical locations/ in which the tradition was found.

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A Review of Ard Rí – a Celtic Card Game

This is a review of Ard Rí – A Card Game of the Early Celts. I’m playing my first game of Ard Rí (which means High King), and here my warriors stand and my cattle graze upon the turf. My enemies are ranged against me across the table…

I gather my Celtic Warriors into my Company and watch over my cattle carefully. So proud am I in this noble company! My herd swells on the greensward and bright Lugh joins the beautiful Étaín and the wise Manannán mac Lír, master of wiles and of glamour, in my Roundhouse. My scouts have reported to me that the size of my rival’s herd is growing, but are my warriors enough to strike at him and steal some away with impunity or will he decimate the pride of my warband? I know that Balor, the Mighty-Striker stands with them!

As the Feast of Samhain comes upon us, it is time to take from our herds and feed our warriors or they may join the wandering band of warriors known as the Fianna or, worse still, be lost to this world and enter the Underworld, the realm of the Síde. This year, I bide my time and hunt in the wilderness for more cattle and bring them into my fold. It is at this time however that my rival chooses to try and raid my own herd. Now I must send my warriors into battle. But who do I send against his mighty warriors? Maybe now is the time  of our proving? So passes another year and if I am a King rich in cattle after several such hard fought years, I may be able to force my rival into accepting me as his Liege, thus becoming High King over the whole Land!

That is indeed how I felt when we played the Basic game of Ard Ri for the first time. The atmosphere of the ancient Celtic warrior culture is superbly captured by the game, and the mythology of the Gods seeps into your bones as you send forth mighty Nuada to do battle against the incoming forces, or defeat a raid with the Morrigan. So what does this game involve?

A Quick Summary of Ard Rí – the Celtic Card Game

One or two decks of truly beautiful cards (and later three, with our support for the Kickstarter campaign) are used to play a game for 2-5 players that superbly represents the ancient Irish culture of cattle-raiding.

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The Fairy Flag Of Clan MacLeod

Many, many years ago, the Chief of Clan MacLeod was a handsome, intelligent man, and all the young ladies in the area were very attracted to him, but none suited his fancy.
One day, he met a fairy princess, a bean sidhe, one of the Shining Folk. Like all the other females he met, she fell madly in love with him, and he with her.

When the princess appealed to the King of the Fairies, for permission to marry the handsome Chief, he refused, saying that it would only break her heart, as humans soon age and die, and the Shining Folk live forever.

She cried and wept so bitterly that even the great King relented, and agreed that she and the Chief could be hand-fasted for a year and a day. But, at the end of that time, she must return to the land of Fairie and leave behind everything from the human world. She agreed, and soon she and the young MacLeod were married with great ceremony.

No happier time ever existed before or since for the Clan MacLeod, for the Chief and Lady MacLeod were enraptured of each other totally. As you might expect, soon a strapping and handsome son was born to the happy couple, and the rejoicing and celebration by the Clan went on for days. However, the days soon passed and a year and a day were gone in a heartbeat.

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Waulking the Cloth – An Ancient Tradition

Fulling, milling, or Waulking (in Gaelic luadh) is the technique of finishing the newly-woven cloth by soaking it and thumping it rhythmically to shrink and soften it – all done by hand in the old days. The songs served to keep the rhythm and lighten the work.

Waulking was the final stage in the long, laborious process of producing homespun cloth.

When the cloth comes off the loom it is stiff and harsh, and the weave is quite loose. Waulking thickens and softens it.

The cloth was soaked in what we call “household ammonia” (stale urine!) This useful chemical, known in Gaelic asmaistir, helped make the dyes fast, and to soften the cloth.

Waulking songs in Gaelic Culture

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Important Pictish fort found on Seastack off the coast of Aberdeenshire

A remote Iron Age fort built by the Picts as a look out post on top of a 20-foot-high sea stack has been uncovered on the coast of Scotland. Archaeologists believe the stronghold, which would have been cut off from the land at high tide, may have been one of a number that lined the east coast of Scotland.

The fort, which was found on top of the Dunnicaer sea stack close to Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, appears to have been built with stone imported from elsewhere in the country. The team from the University of Aberdeen believe the ancient remains could be one of many along the coast south of Stonehaven.

It is the first time an official excavation has been carried out there. Pictish symbol stones were said to be found on the Dunnicaer sea stack by locals in the 19th Century. Until this latest discovery, it was unclear whether the site held other historical remains. The Aberdeen team believe they have found the remains of a house, a fireplace and ramparts.

Who were the Picts? The Tribe who held out in the North

The Picts were a group of tribes who lived north of the Forth and Clyde during the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval period.

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The Legend of Lucky White Heather

Ossian is the narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson from 1760. Macpherson claimed to have collected word-of-mouth material in Scots Gaelic, said to be from ancient sources, and that the work was his translation of that material. Ossian is based on Oisín, son of Finn or Fionn mac Cumhaill, anglicised to Finn McCool, a legendary bard who is a character in Irish mythology.

Contemporary critics were divided in their view of the work’s authenticity, but the consensus since is that Macpherson framed the poems himself, based on old folk tales he had collected, and that “Ossian” is, in the words of Thomas Curley,

“the most successful literary falsehood in modern history.”

But Macpherson’s fame was crowned by his burial among the literary giants in Westminster Abbey, and W.P. Ker, in the Cambridge History of English Literature, observes that “all Macpherson’s craft as a philological imposter would have been nothing without his literary skill.

Why White Heather is Lucky

Here is his tale about why white heather is considered lucky:

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Scottish and Cornish dramas rate high in the Game of TV Clones


Poldark is a British drama television series that was first broadcast on BBC One on 8 March 2015. The eight-part series, based on the first two Poldark novels by Winston Graham, tells the story of Ross Poldark who returns to his Cornish tin mines after spending three years in the army to avoid charges of smuggling, leaving behind his sweetheart Elizabeth. On his return, having fought in the American War of Independence, he finds his father dead, his estate in ruins and Elizabeth engaged to his cousin Francis. In need of help, he takes on a new kitchen maid, Demelza, after rescuing her from a beating, bringing him into conflict with hostile locals.

Read on for more about our Scottish and Cornish dramas…

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Magical, Mystical and Sacred Sites for a day out with myths and legends

Magical, Mystical and Sacred Sites across the UK

Somerset's Cadbury Castle, Leland's Camelot

Somerset’s Cadbury Castle, Leland’s Camelot

We are proud to bring you an article by Guardian reporter, Kevin Rushby about the many sacred sites within the United Kingdom that you can visit and explore. From Cadair Idris in Wales to St. Nectan’s Glen at Tintagel in Cornwall and from the magical Robin Lythe’s Cave in East Yorkshire to the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye you will never be short of somewhere mysterious, magical and wondrous to experience the ancient magic of our Sacred Land.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK days out with myths and legends” was written by Kevin Rushby, for The Guardian on Tuesday 31st March 2015 10.30 UTC

Magic mountain

Cadair Idris, Snowdonia, Gwynedd (OS Explorer OL23)

The joy of the 893-metre Cadair Idris is that it looks like a proper mountain but is actually a fairly easy walk, guaranteed to make everyone feel tough and strong without too much effort. That’s if you do the Pony Path, at least, which begins at the Ty-Nant car park on the north side of the mountain. The Minffordd and Fox’s paths are a little more demanding, especially the latter.

Legend associates the peak with Arthur, although it could also be a Welsh prince by that name who fought an Irish army here in the seventh century. Either way it is a place of deep magic, prone to visitations by infernal hunting dogs that snaffle you off to the underworld.

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