Exploring Galloway’s Stories and Gaelic ‘Otherworld’ using our Place Names

What can our place names tell us about our past, and how do they reveal stories of folklore and our historic ‘otherworld’? This event – led by local enthusiast Michael Ansell – will lift the lid on stories and tales that can be revealed from looking closely at today’s Galloway place names.


The Event is being delivered by the Galloway Glens Scheme in hybrid format, with attendees welcome either in person or online. To book your free ticket, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-galloway-gaelic-otherworld-evidence-from-place-names-and-local-stories-tickets-680958584457. (Note: In-person tickets currently sold out)


Looking ahead to the event, Michael highlighted the example of Criagencallie, in the valley of the Black Water of Dee, saying:

This place-name is derived from Gaelic ‘Creag na Cailliche’ which literally means ‘the crag of the old wife, hag, or carlin’. However, the Cailleach also performs the role of divine hag and mother goddess, associated with the creation of the landscape and with the weather, especially storms and winter. 
As Professor William Gillies has pointed out, the Cailleach is also featured in early Gaelic literature as a sovereignty goddess with the gift of bestowing kingship on aspiring rulers. The place-name Craigencallie with its local story about the encounter of Robert the Bruce with the old wife there is a remarkable survival of such medieval Gaelic mythology. More remarkable yet is the fact that two versions of this Sovereignty goddess tale have survived in two different locations in the Glenkens from Gaelic speaking times to the present day.
I will be elaborating on the local role of the Cailleach in Galloway along with discussing other supernatural ‘otherworld’ tales and local mythonyms at The Smiddy, Baile Mac ‘Ille Fhàolain (Balmaclellan) on Friday 15th September at 7pm. Don’t miss it!”


The event coincides with the recent publishing of ‘Galloway: The Lost Province of Gaelic Scotland’. For more information about the book and to buy your copy, visit: https://gallowayglens.org/the-galloway-the-lost-province-of-gaelic-scotland-book-is-published/.


An initiative of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team, the Galloway Glens Scheme is funded by a range of partners including the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Galloway Glens Scheme aims to connect people to their heritage and to support modern rural communities. www.gallowayglens.org.