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Stories relating to the harvest tradition of the 'cailleach', 30 October 1872

Identifier: Coll-97/CW106/118

Scope and Contents

Stories probably collected from Angus Currie, Àird na Monadh, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist, relating to the harvest tradition of the 'cailleach', the last sheaf of corn to be cut from the field. The cailleach was sent by someone who had finished cutting his corn to a neighbour who had not finished cutting theirs and was considered to be a great disgrace. One story tells of a man who went on horseback from Bornish to Milton with the cailleach and the recipient was so cross he chased him, caught him at Ro-glas [Bornais, Àirigh Mhuilinn and Roe Glas] and 'shaved his whiskers & head'. Another tells of a cailleach being sent from Dul an Droma [Dùghall an Droma] in Gearry Geannacha to Patra Nicolson [Peter Nicolson] in Crocna moine [Gearraidh Gainmhich/Garryganichy, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist and Cnoc na Mònadh/Torlum, Beinn na Faoghla/Benbecula] and the messenger being stripped naked and sent home in response. A third story tells of two neighbours in Iocar [Ìochdar, Uibhist a Deas/South Uist] who were harvesting at night and one narrowly beating the other to finish first and leaving the cailleach in a cairn at the end of his neighbour's rig. Carmichael notes 'A tacksman would rather find his best cow dead that the cail[leach] in his iomaire buain.' The text has been scored through as if transcribed elsewhere.


  • Creation: 30 October 1872

Language of Materials

English Gaelic

Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 117 folios ; 20 x 16.5 cm

Physical Location


Physical Location

folio 41r, line 8 to folio 41v, line 17


Maclean, Calum I., 'The Last Sheaf', Scottish Studies, Vol 8 (1964), pp. 193-207.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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