• The Cave of Swords

    by  • 25 August 2008 • Tales & Traditions • 0 Comments

    Mealisval from Islivig

    From an article for Uig News by Dave Roberts:

    John Murdo Maclean’s great grandfather prided himself on knowing every inch of Mealisval. There wasn’t a nook or cranny that he hadn’t investigated, and not a spot that he couldn’t return to the next day or even the next year, with pinpoint accuracy. If you were working sheep on the hill, it was essential to have an intimate knowledge of the terrain. Mealisval is notorious for quickly disappearing into a cold, thick, all enveloping ‘cheo’ and one day he was caught in one of these. With disorientation setting in, the only sensible route in these conditions is downwards.

    On this day, when the fog came down he was in the middle of a jumble of rocks that required care to scramble through, especially when everything was soaking wet. Suddenly he stumbled and fell, but not onto rock, nor even onto the soggy ground – he felt himself falling through the heather and moss, and into a concealed entrance. There were steep steps going downwards into a chamber. In the dim light that filtered down from the entrance he could see into the depths of the cave. As his eyes gradually became accustomed to the semi-darkness, he saw on the floor a scatter of metal swords. Whether they were of ancient design, or encrusted with rust, or made of bronze has not survived in the retelling of the story. He was amazed and excited by his discovery, and keen to tell his family and neighbours of his find. He couldn’t say precisely where it was, but in his mind he was sure he would be able to find the exact location again.

    It was some days before he could think of going back. He went to the spot he knew from his ‘mind map’ was where the cave should have been, but search as he might he never ever found the entrance to that cave. He returned many times in the hope that, by chance the mysterious hiding place would miraculously reveal itself, but it never did.  Many people have unsuccessfully tried to locate this lost cave, with its tantalising contents. The story has been told and retold many times at the taigh ceilidh.

    Speculation has been rife. Apart from the lost location, the greatest mysteries, and the subjects of most conjecture, have been the questions of ownership, and the reasons the owners had for hiding, or putting, the weapons in the cave. When did they date from? Why were they there? Where are they now? (Some possibilities)

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