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Stories from Glencoe

The Ballachulish Dragon

Beinn a' Bheithir - the name of the mountains which tower above the village of Ballachulish - is generally agreed to translate as the Peak of the Thunderbolt. However, "Bheithir" also has another translation: a wild beast, usually relating to a serpent or snake. This has given rise to the legend of the Ballachulish Dragon.

The Bheithir is said to have lived in a great hollow called Corrie Liath, from where she guarded the mountains, terrorised the village and attacked unsuspecting passers-by.

Beinn a'Bheithir from Ballachulish Peninsula

She was eventually defeated by Charles the Skipper, who used burning meat to lure her to her death on a trap of iron spikes on Loch Leven. Charles didn't know, however, that she had left behind a baby, which continued to terrorise the village and in turn had its own litter of young. The eggs were discovered at the foot of the mountain by a local farmer, who immediately set fire to the corn stack that formed the nest. The mother dragon was too late to save her young, so threw herself down on a flat rock near the shore where she too died. The village was now free of its dangerous dragons and the villagers could live in peace.

Ossian's Cave

Another Glencoe legend is that of Ossian's Cave. High on the rocky face of Aonach Dubh - the western-most of the Three Sisters of Glencoe - is a narrow slit, looking like a keyhole cut out of the mountain. It is here that Ossian, son of the famous Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill, is said to have been born.

Ossian's mother was a beautiful woman named Sadhbh, who was cursed by a druid named Fer Diorich for spurning his advances and transformed into a deer. She was hunted by Fionn mac Cumhaill, but when his hounds caught her they refused to kill her, and the warrior was amazed to see that the doe was now a beautiful woman. The two fell in love, and soon Sadhbh fell pregnant. However, before she was able to give birth she was once again transformed into a deer by Fer Diorich, who was jealous to see her happiness with another man.

Sadhbh returned to the wild and gave birth to her son in a cave high up on the hillside above Glen Coe.

She named him Ossian, or Oisín in Irish Gaelic, meaning "young deer" or "little fawn". Fionn never saw his love Sadhbh again, but he and Ossian are said to have reunited in Ireland.

Glencoe also has a famous witch named Corrag who is said to have foreseen the Massacre - you can read about her in our previous blog post, here.

If you know any other stories of Glencoe folklore, please feel free to share them in the comments!

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