The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan — oh fine Scottish Weather


Dunvegan (Dùn Bheagain)  Castle on the Isle of Skye  is the hereditary home of the Clan MacLeod  (and one part of my family tree).  The clan MacLeod are said to be descendants of a Norseman named Leod or Ljotr and the Isle of Skye is rich in Pictish, Norse and Gaelic tradition.  A sept of the clan are the famed Macrimmon pipers ( of Macrimmon’s Lament) who are under  the protection of the MacLeods.  The Castle has a famous fairy tower, a fairy flag and thus a story……


Griogal cridhe – Beloved Gregor

The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

It is said that a chief of the clan MacLeod fell in love with one of the Sidhe (fairies). He married her knowing she could only stay with him for one year and a day.  After giving birth to a son  she was compelled to return to her fairy homeland and abandon everything mortal. This included the baby whom she had to leave with her grief stricken husband.

fae forest islandYet, even in the fairy realm she heard her infant crying. She returned secretly in the night to sing him a lullaby and wrap him up in her shawl.  When the boy grew older he told his father that the shawl was a talisman and if at any time the clan was in trouble, it was to be waved and  the fairies would come to their aid. However, the flag could only be waved three times before it would be reclaimed by the Sidhe folk.

fairy shawl baby


History tells that the MacLeods indeed waved it, once in battle where it turned the tide in their favour and once during a cattle plague. It has yet to be waved a third time and so it sits waiting in the great hall of the castle along with the Dunvegan cup and Ruairadh (Rory) Mòr’s hunting horn.

I used a layer texture and my light brush after converting this to monochrome sepia in Topaz.


the fairy flag, hunting horn and cup

no photography is allowed inside the castle but I did see the fairy flag in the great hall, tattered and yellowed with age and found this old 1920’s photograph on the web.

my scotland2a

ancient church ruins skye

ancient church with pre Christian Pictish Stone on hill

More Posts on Skye

and check out my time on the Orkneys’

and at Skaill House ( on Orkneys)