Location: Ullapool, Gairloch and Lochinver
gaelic culture, gaelic language and placenames, vikings, worship

The destruction of Highland woodlands

The King of Norway was jealous of the thick covering of woodland over the Highlands and sought to destroy it. He sent his daughter Dubh a' Giuthais (Black Scots-Pine) to be schooled in the Dark Arts then. Once her training was complete, he sent her to fly over Scotland with a great store of magical fire, reigning down destruction on the forests. A great cloud of smoke enveloped the burning lands and hid her from sight from those below.

The people on the ground tried everything to catch her but to no avail. One day a man from Loch Broom, who had known her when she was young, thought of a plan. He knew that she was very fond of animals and kept their company in preference to people when she was a young girl. His tactic was to gather animals of every kind together and then separate the young from their mothers. The cries of distress and commotion from each one seeking their own would attract Dubh a’ Giuthais to their aid and she would descend to earth.

They set this plan in motion on the slopes above Kildonan at Achadh Bad a’ Chruiteir (Field of the Harper’s place). Once the commotion was raised Dubh a’ Giuthais did indeed come to earth. She had no sooner set foot on the ground when she was shot with an arrow.

There were two Norse ships at anchor at Camas na Gaul and upon hearing news of the death the crews set about recovering her body. They placed the body in a wicker coffin and made to set sail but were turned around by a ferocious storm, the likes of which they had never experienced before. No matter how many times they attempted to depart the same thing occurred until they gave up and buried her in Kildonan. Her father, the king, was grief-stricken- especially because his daughter was not buried at home. He sent two ships to Kildonan loaded with soil from Norway. The crew unloaded the soil and placed Dubh a’ Giuthais in it- where she remains to this very day.

As contributed by Ruaraidh Maclean and Donald Maciver

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