Over the centuries, histories and tales have formed around the Isle of Skye. They are still closely intertwined with its fantastic colourful landscapes and fascinating history.
It is understandable why it is there, in this beautiful secluded corner, that the prophetess and great warrior Scathach founded her martial arts school. People went there from all over the world to learn war and magic. Now you can’t tell where the Celtic story ends, and the legend begins. What other secrets does the mystical foggy island keep?
Myths and history
Dunscaith Castle, an impregnable 12th-century fortress, clings to the hillside with all its might, its crumbling walls skewer against the sky. On the other side of Loch Eishorth, the dark peaks of the Cuillin Mountains cross the horizon like a row of crumpled witch hats, mingling with the clouds along the way. Not a soul is visible anywhere. This corner of the Scottish Isle of Skye is accessible only to the winds that flutter the long golden grass.
It is understandable why the legendary Scathach chose this secluded place to settle down. What ultimately happened to the powerful warrior queen, Scathach, remains a mystery to this day. No burials or tombs have been found. This adds even more mystery and mystery to the mythical warrior. Medieval legend has it that Skatach will return when the world needs her the most.
“On the Isle of Skye, it is difficult to separate mythology from history,” says local guide Ciaran Stormont. “It is likely that there was a certain woman named Scathach. But how true is everything else? We don’t know.”
The mystical island in the shape of a raven’s wing, stretching into the Hebrides Sea off the northwest coast of Scotland, is an authentic theatre. For centuries, dramatic events played out in it; legends were made up, similar to the myths about the Stingrays. This is a very suitable place for tales of warriors and witches. These brooding mountains, moorlands, falling waterfalls, and beaches covered with blue lakes are a backdrop for a fantasy film. It seems that at any moment, some unicorn may appear. The weather here is as stormy and changeable, and dramatic as the surrounding landscapes. It changes in the blink of an eye, like the whims of the gods. In the end, the island was nicknamed “Foggy” for a reason.
“The Celtic peoples have a wealthy historical heritage,” says Stormont. “Take fairies — they have been used for centuries to explain strange things that humans did not understand, such as diseases. True or not, it was a way to hide the dangers of this world. “It seems that on Skye, both legends and facts look like fantasy.
Language of the earth surface
Master Garth Duncan lives in Duncan House, tucked away from the road to Elgol Village. He makes exquisite Celtic jewellery: brooches, combs and rings adorned with intricate, curved patterns. Duncan is from the United States. There he began to deal with silverware. Garth moved to Skye two decades ago. He returned to his historical homeland. “On my father’s side, I’m Scottish,” he explains, “although I had never been interested in that before. But then I became interested in this and realized that I want to revive the ancient traditions of my people.”
Garth, along with his son, is engaged in the manufacture of traditional Celtic jewellery. The family contract has many orders from all over the world. The Duncan range of goods looks like a mystical treasure: armour, staffs, rings adorned with jewels, knives with handles carved from bog oak, 5,000 years old. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It has everything I could dream of,” says Duncan.
It is said on Skye that there is an ùruisg near Loch Coruisk. A certain mythical half-man, half-goat, bringing misfortune. The same view of the lake is mesmerizing and makes you freeze in admiration. It looks dramatic and serene simultaneously – a silent dark mirror in which Cuillin’s rough, naked peaks are reflected with almost digital clarity. Lone boulders line the lake, and the faint calls of sea eagles echo across the hills. It’s so atmospheric that Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott felt obligated to put it down on paper in his 1814 poem “The Lord of the Isles.” But the poet Tennyson was not inspired here, writing: “thick wool-white fog.”
Immersed in nature
Scott Mackenzie, the local huntsman, is well versed in all the legends of the island. Dressed in traditional highlander clothing and a deer hunter’s cap, he helps look after a small hotel on the estate and guard a nearby village in the ancient Sleat’s forest. Mackenzie ruled these properties for over ten years. He knows a lot. About the island, he says: “Tourism has completely changed the situation here. More and more people are visiting Skye than ever before. It is a pity that many people come just for a day or two. I wish people would stay here longer and travel more slowly. There is something to see here, enough for a week, or even more.”
Skye is one of the last remaining strongholds of the Gaelic language in Scotland. Today 60,000 people are its speakers. While the fate of the traditional language is unknown, the number of speakers declined by 30 per cent between 1981 and 2001. Nevertheless, he is incredibly profoundly imprinted in the life and even the landscapes of the island. On Skye, Gaelic is everywhere: on road signs, in the names of mountains and lakes.
When people dream of a big world outside their square meters, the wild islands of Scotland have become the embodiment of this dream. This socially isolated immersion in nature. That being said, the Isle of Skye is far from the barren wilderness that some might think. It is a beautiful and vibrant place that is constantly evolving.
The hand of time is evident in everything here. Walking through Trotternish, the northernmost Skye Peninsula, this is especially evident. Like a fracture along a bone, along the ground stretches Quiraing: the stony remains of massive ancient landslides. To this day, it is one of the most geologically active parts of the United Kingdom. It gradually collapses under layers of volcanic basalt. The roads around them need annual repairs due to the gradual subsidence.
Everywhere on Trotternish, there are traces of a primitive past. Here you can find traces of prehistoric animals. The remains of 165 million years old dinosaurs were found here. Mealt waterfall beats from a sheer cliff into the sea. Maybe the end of the earth is here?
The most intriguing rock formation is the Old Man of Storr. This strikingly shaped mountain is said to be the remains of a dead giant. It’s tranquil and lonely here. It seems that even the crows circling do not make noise. A bit further, needle Rock: a lone tower of crumbling basalt sticking out of the ground. From here, the withered rocky sides of the Old Man stand out like the walls of a cathedral, hiding what is happening in the shadows. Nature around is breathtaking. Somewhere far above, clouds float across the sky, pierced by the sun’s rays. In this place, Skye, most of all, seems to be just a distant mythical memory.