Beinn na Caillich - Hill of the Old Woman

  • by Diana Maresova

Throughout all the trials and tribulations of the past 10 months, if there’s one thing that has remained constant, it’s been the awe-inspiring landscape that surrounds us on the island we call home. 

Our workshop, where every single Skye Candle is poured and packaged, is in Broadford. This is about a 7-mile drive from the Skye Bridge and is the second largest town on the island. As you drive to and from Broadford, and as you enter our workshop, there’s a hill that stands proudly looking over all the goings-on. We look at it every day and still can’t help but smile. It’s called: 
“Beinn na Caillich” - “Hill of the Old Woman”
Beinn na Caillich
According to legend, this hill gets its name from Saucy Mary, a Norwegian princess who is buried at the top and wanted to feel the wind from her homeland from her resting place.

Although Saucy Mary was married to a McKinnon clan chief, she was determined to make her own way in the world. It’s said she controlled the narrow straight between Kyleakin and Kyle of a Lochalsh by hanging a chain from her home, Castle Maol, to the mainland and charged a toll for ships wishing to pass. She always did have a strong affinity with her homeland and would wave the toll for Norwegian ships.

For those who did oblige and pay the toll, Mary was very thankful. She would demonstrate her gratitude by wishing them a safe journey and giving them a flash of her bare chest as they sailed out to sea. Hence the name, ‘Saucy Mary’.
As well as Gaelic having a strong presence in the place names across Scotland, it’s also fascinating to notice the Norse influence left behind by strong characters such as Mary. Broadford itself derives from Old Norse, with the Vikings referring to it as the ‘Wide Bay’. Whereas the largest town on Skye, Portree, derives from Gaelic, meaning Port of the King.

We think all of this makes our rugged surroundings all the more captivating and love noticing how those who have come before us have left their mark on the land.
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