Colann gun cheann

"Headless body." A phantom in the shape of a headless human figure that haunted a large rocky mound (cnoc mòr creige) on the west coast of Inverness-shire, between North and South Morar. At the base of the mound a road can be taken when the tide is out. No one, however, taking it alone after nightfall, would live to tell the tale. His remains were found next day among the large boulder stones, of which the shore is full, mangled, and bearing traces of a ghastly and unnatural death.

It disappeared when the father of youth, who killed by the Headless Body, threatened it with a dirk. The story is as follows:

Macdonall or MacCuïl, as he is styled, of South Morar (Mac Dhughaill mòrair) whose house was not far from the scene of the Headless Body's violence, unexpectedly became the means of expelling it from its haunt. He was one winter evening unexpectedly visited by a friend. He had no one to send to Bracara across the river, to invite some more friends to come and join in the entertainment of his guest but his son and heir, then about 18 years of age. He strictly enjoined the youth not to return that night unless men came with him, for fear of the Headless Body. The young man did not find the friends he was sent for at home, and with the temerity natural to his years came back alone. The Body met him and killed him, and in the morning were found traces of a fearful struggle, large stones displaced and clots of blood, as if the youth had put out his heart's blood. MacCuïl made a solemn vow neither to eat nor drink till he avenged his son's death. All that evening his friends tried to persuade him to remain at home, but to no purpose. The Headless Body never appeared but to those who passed its way alone, and the chiefs friends had to return while he went on unaccompanied to the haunted rocks. The Body came out and said, "You have come to take your son's ransom (èirig); take counsel, and go home." To this the chief replied by clasping his arms round the hated apparition. A furious struggle commenced, and to this day the stones may be seen which were rolled out of their way in the dread encounter. At last the strong and fearless chief got the Headless Body under, and drew his dirk to stab it. The Body cried, "Hold your hand, MacCuïl, touch me not with the iron, and while there is one within the twentieth degree related to you (air an fhicheadamh miar) in Morar, I will not again be seen."

In a different version the subduing of the ghost is attributed to Stout John, Laird of Raasay.



  • Campbell, J.G. (1902). Witchcraft & Second Sight in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland. Glascow: James MacLehose and Sons, pp. 191-193.