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Credit: Steve Taylor
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The Cave of Gold

By Alan Murray

Image provided by Steve Taylor

The story of the Cave of Gold on the Isle of Skye is a well-known tale from the north end of the island, capturing the imagination of locals and visitors even to this day.

The story is set in the Borneskitaig area of Skye, a few miles south of Duntulm Castle; the cave (called Uamh an Òir in Gaelic) can be accessed on foot by a short walk. Within is supposed to be a treasure trove of gold, hidden by warriors of old, and guarded by a terrible monster. This creature wreaked havoc on the crops of North Skye in its search for food, but no-one challenged it, such was its ferocity.

Eventually a local piper, from the famed MacArthur piping family, decided enough was enough: he would enter the cave and deal with the beast. MacArthur marched in playing his pipes, while friends kept pace above ground. As long as the piper's tune could be heard he was safe, he said, but as the melody got fainter and fainter, the refrain spoke of his wish for three hands: two for the pipes, and one for his sword so that he might fight the monster. MacArthur never returned, but it is said that his music can still be heard underfoot far inland, where it is believed the cave ends.

Photo: The Cave of Gold, Kilmuir, Isle of Skye.

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