the snake, the saint and the power of healing

The sun seems to shine more golden and bright along Loch Long, one of the beauty spots of Kintail. It has a quiet and peaceful feel to it. An old single track road leads along the shores of Loch Long towards Camus Luinie. To visit the graveyard of Kililan one needs to access a large and fairly modern estate that appears half way before the road bends to the right.

Killilan graveyard

Kililan is a legendary and ancient spot, the sheds and farming equipment take some of that feel away unfortunately.

Killilan graveyard In the year 734 the princess Kentigerna (she was a daughter of the King of Leinster in Ireland), her brother Comgan and her son Fillan settled in Kintail after having had fled uprisings in Ireland that followed the death of Kentigerna’s husband and Fillan’s father.

Fillan loved the area around the head of Loch Long and even though he travelled extensively throughout Scotland and Europe he always felt this to be a special place.

According to legend, many serpents lived here, amongst them a white one, the serpent’s king. Fillan, of royal blood himself, had been told by a French magician to take the snake king and bring him to France. He did so, trapped the snake and managed to escape the venom of the others trying to pursue him.

Killilan graveyard (11)

In France, the magician put the white snake in a pot with boiling water. He then had to leave the house to attend to an important matter and made it quite clear, that Fillan was not to touch or drink any of that liquid. Of course Fillan fell asleep, the kettle boiled over, the potion touched his finger, he stuck the finger in his mouth and so drank some of the liquid.

It bestowed the power of healing and Fillan not only became a saint, he also became a famous healer. Legend has it that the people of Kintail are the healthiest and strongest in the country. Thanks to Fillan and the serpent king.

Killilan graveyard (4)On his death he was taken to the graveyard near Killilan and buried there.

No traces are left today.

But Fillan has left a poem he composed on Tulach nan Deur, a hill nearby.

 I am sitting here on the Hillock of Tears

without skin or toe or sole;

King of the wide world,

Far is France from the head of Loch Long.



Liked the read? There’s more here...

Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique.

The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years. Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel. This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.

The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.

Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.

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