The Royal Scots Cap Badge


Cave Of Gold


The Cave of Gold is said to have been composed by Donald Mor MacCrimmon in 1610.


The Reverend Neil Ross provided the following story in a publication dated 1910. His artistry is worth repeating:


“When a brown haired youth of this minstrel race was practising in the piper's study (a hollow on the edge of Borreraig sea-cliff), his eye and heart were struck with wonder to see a maiden more fair than any other. There was not her match in the four airts of all the world. In her hand was a silver chanter which she offered to MacCrimmon.


She told him that the chanter would give him the victory over all the minstrels of the earth; but that at the end of a year and a day, he would be obliged to go to the Cave of Gold. The youth accepted the chanter, and was cast under a spell. He would not exchange the instrument for the most valuable treasure. The like of its music had not been heard.


The lark and Mavis came to listen. The deer descended from the hill; the brown otter left his brook, and the seal was attracted from the shore. The diseased became well, and the depressed grew cheerful; the age of bliss had dawned. The joy lasted a year and a day. The hour and the moment came. On a bright summer morning the youth turned his back on the homes of mortals. He turned his face towards the Cave of Gold, and played a tune of which the echo survives in the words:


I shall not come, I shall not come,
I shall not come from the Cave of Gold,
The frisking kids,
Shall be goats of the rock.
and other feeble infants, men of war,
The sons at the breast,
Shall be champions of feats,
Ere I come back from the Cave of Gold.


The same tale, or variations thereof, can be found in other parts of Skye and perhaps elsewhere in Scotland and other countries. In the old days the story had credence in the Gaelic community, and the memory of the silver chanter endured, inciting minstrels in their efforts, and lending to a fanciful picture of a blissful age when music was the “foe and vanquisher of disease and sorrow”.


The Reverend Neil Ross leaves little more to say about the inspiration of the tune except that it is worth noting that stories based on the image of a cave of gold affirm that there is no returning when one is totally committed to pursuit of a dream.


Exit Cave Of Gold and return to the General Piobaireachd Stories




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