Louise Boulanger

Location: Applecross and Loch Carron
gaelic culture, the natural world

Corp creadha

It was known into the late 19th century, at least, that certain individuals looking to settle scores used the power of nature to inflict harm on others. It worked as follows. Clay effigies would be made of the people you were trying to harm. Essentially what you were left with would be a small clay doll, known in Gaelic as a corp creadha (clay body). The dolls would be placed on a ledge or on some point just above the normal height of a stream or burn, usually under a bridge. When the stream was in spate, the water would gradually wash over the clay doll and the power of the water would cause the clay doll to erode and disintegrate. At the same time, it was said that the person represented by the doll would similarly decline, becoming more and more ill.

The most place most commonly associated with this practice in Applecross was said to be Allt nan Corp (the stream of the bodies), which lies just to the north of the township of Culduie. There was a natural supply of clay, easy to get to, about half a mile to the south.

It was said that the relatives of the last family known to have been involved with making a corp creadha were known to the locals around the turn of the 19th century, and that they subsequently left the district.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.