Queen Scotia`s Grave

Red Sandstone slab - the grave

Scotia`s Glen is a partially wooded valley situated in the south-east corner of Clahane Townland, in the eastern foothills of the Slieve Mish Mountain south of Tralee. The glen is approx. 3 km in length and the bottom is located 4 km from Tralee town center. The area is also known as Foley`s Glen after a family whom the land was leased in the 19th century [1].

Scotia`s Glen (Foley`s Glen) looking towards Tralee Town

Scota appears in the Irish chronicle Book of Leinster (containing a redaction of the Lebor Gabála Érenn). According to Irish Folklore and Mythology, the battle of Sliabh Mish was fought in this glen above the town of Tralee, where the Celtic Milesians defeated the Tuatha Dé Danann but Scotia, the Queen of the Milesians died in battle while pregnant as she attempted to jump a bank on horseback. The area is now known as Scotia’s Glen and her grave is reputed to be under a huge ancient stone inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. She was said to be a Pharaoh’s daughter and had come to Ireland to avenge the death of her husband, the King of the Milesians who had been wounded in a previous ambush in south Kerry. It is also said that Scotland was named after Queen Scotia [2].

In The book 'Kingdom of the Ark' by Lorraine Evans reveals numerous archaeological connections between Egypt and Ireland. Evans argues the remains of an ancient boat in Yorkshire, a type found in the Mediterranean was over 3000 years old from around 1400 to 1350 BC. She tells the story of Scota, the Egyptian princess and daughter of a pharaoh who fled from Egypt with her husband Gaythelos with a large following of people and settling in Scotland. From here they were forced to leave and landed in Ireland, where they formed the Scotti, and their kings became the high kings of Ireland [3].

Kingdom of the Ark' by Lorraine Evans

If you are in Tralee Town park, please visit the "Garden of Senses" located near the St. John`s Church. You will find few interesting sculptures related to the story of Queen Scotia.

The stone sculpture at the Town Park aligned with Scotia`s Glen

View at Scotia`s Glenn

Representation of "Cauldron of Dagda" designed and made by the local talented artist Paula O' Sullivan from Tralee

The Dagda is the father of Brighid, the triple-faced goddess of bards, and is one of the mightiest of the sublime Otherworld beings. He is a member of the Tuatha de Danaan, the mystical race of sidhe folk who first inhabited Ireland before the human sons of the Míle invaded to take the emerald isle. The Dagda`s name means "the good god", but it does not mean good in the ethical sense. Rather, it means he is good at whatever he sets with his hand to do. He possesses to artifacts: a cauldron that satisfies all those who partake of it, and a great warclub that heals as well as kills. The Dagda`s cauldron symbolizes his power to nourish all those in need, and, like good Celts, his hospitality is grand. He is happy to provide of his bounty for those who are the friends of his people and his cause. However, his cauldron of provision is not one of wisdom - as is that of Ceridwen - but of material bounty. It was said the Dagda`s cauldron could satysfy entire armies [4].

Replica obelisk as a directional signpost for Queen Scotia’s grave

The obelisk was designed and created by the local renowned stone sculptor - Billy Leen. Elena Danaan, an egyptologist, who worked as field archaeologist on ancient sites in Egypt , translated the hieroglyphs for the text presented at the obelisk. The hieroglyphics tell the names: "The great queen Scotia" and "Meritaten daughter of Pharaoh". Tidy Tralee Together and Billy Leen, were responsible for installing this sculpture in April 2017.

Signpost directing towards the Scotia`s Grave

The walk can be boggy in winter and early spring therefore keep your wellies in your backpack! Hiking boots are advisable. In many places you would need to bend your knees as tree branches are falling quite down. Be equipped with insect repellent, otherwise monstrous hordes of midges will chase you all the way! From the “Scotia`s Grave” sign follow the path, pass three small bridges (as shown on photograph below) and you should easily find the "grave". Please note only roadside parking is available.

Bullaun Stone placed along the walk

The word bullàn in Irish means "a bowl" or a rounded hollow in a stone. The majority of stones are found in ecclesiastical sites and are generally referred to as water fonts. Many other uses have also been attributed to them such as mortars for crushing and grinding foodstuffs including roots, cereals and herbs. It`s commonly accepted that their original function was ritual[5].

Wonderful biodiversity along the walk is noticeable

The last bridge and sandsotne slab - believed to be the grave

Sandstone slabs near the stream

Sandstone slabs face directly - North, South, East and West. The place is used for rituals. Many objects like shells, earrings, feathers and candles are left on the biggest stone.

Ceremonial objects

Rapids on Finglas rivulet

Due to the fact that the valley is covered in vegetation, it is hard to see the bedrock. Under the blanket of grass, moss and turf lies red sandstone. The rock was formed 400 million years ago during the geological period known as the Devonian. Then in Ireland, much of the landscape was very dry and subjected to desert conditions, in a similar environment to the modern Sahara Desert of North Africa today [6].

The sandstone is in places more conglomeratic, that means, a small rounded or angular fragments of milky quartz and red jasper can be found. In around 1996 exploration work was carried out to look at the local geology and a vein of amethyst was discovered in vicinity of Scotia`s Grave. The place was locally known as "Mine" or "Diamond Cave" and some of the specimens you could buy in shop located on Rock Street in Tralee.

Red Jasper and Purple Amethyst

Red Jasper is an ancient and sacred stone that has held meaning throughout dozens of cultures since the beginning of human existence. Red Jasper is a form of chalcedony, which in turn is a form of quartz. This means that it is present all over the world, as quartz is one of the most commonly occurring minerals in the Earth’s crust. Its popularity spread from Ancient Greece and Rome to Christian Europe over the Middle Ages, where it became a popular religious stone.Red Jasper is believed to carry a strong spiritual grounding vibration, which makes it one of the must-have stones for those who are concerned about spiritual well-being and healing [7].

Purple Amethyst has been highly esteemed throughout the ages for its stunning beauty and legendary powers to stimulate, and soothe, the mind and emotions. It is a semi-precious stone in today’s classifications, but to the ancients it was a “Gem of Fire,” a Precious Stone worth, at times in history, as much as a Diamond. It has always been associated with February, the month the Romans dedicated to Neptune, their water-god, and is the traditional birthstone of that month. It is the stone of St. Valentine and faithful love, and signifies ecclesiastical dignity as the Bishop’s Stone. It carries the energy of fire and passion, creativity and spirituality, yet bears the logic of temperance and sobriety [8]

Family of wild goats near Scotia`s Grave

Here are local stories on Queen Scotia/Scotia`s Grave found at https://www.duchas.ie/

“Queen Scotia's Glen”

COLLECTOR: Thomas Higgins

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0442, Page 172

“About two miles from this school there is a place called Queen Scotia's Glen it is said that Queen Scotia was buried there. Many people go to visit the place. There is a large flat stone with Ogham signs along its edge, which is believed to mark her burial place. She was the daughter of King Phaorah of Egyept. Her husband's name was Miled. He was killed fighting the Dedannans and she took his place and was killed also. The glen is called Gleann-Scoithín”.

“Queen Scotia”

COLLECTOR: Sheila Curtin

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0441, Page 319 -320

“In olden days a woman appeared, near Queen Scotia's Grave, which is south of Tralee, after night fall. She was very fierce and strong and always attacked those who passed by in the darkness. She strangled everyone, even the strongest men round about, and left them there lying dead on the ground. The people became terrified and one night a group of men gathered together and agreed on going to the grave on that night. They had taken their places round the grave before dark and when the sun had gone down the woman came up from underneath the stone singing a song in some language which they could not understand. When she saw them she immediately attacked them but failing to subdue them she fled to the stone and with a loud cry went underneath it. All the men were badly wounded and soon after reaching their homes they died but the woman never appeared there afterwards. She is said to have been Queen Scotia who was killed in battle there when the Milesians first came to Ireland. Her motive for killing all these people was to revenge her death”.

(no title)


The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0441, Page 174-176

“About two miles from the present town of Tralee there is a beautiful glen, known as Gleann Scoitín. Here is buried the famous Queen Scota, a lady who gave her name not alone to Ireland, but also to Scotland. She was the leader of Molesians and the wife of Milesius. It was in the year of the world 3500 before Christ that the Milesian colony arrived in Ireland. The inhabitants of the country prior to the Milesian invasion were the Tuatha de Dananns. The local tradition states that Tuatha de Dananns knew that the Milesians were about to invade the land, as the Kerry Druids foretold it. These Druids informed the De Dananns of the whereabouts of the Milesians, who had anchored off Tralee Bay. The tradition states that Kerry was first made invisible to the Milesians by the necromancy of the inhabitants. Yet despite such tactics the Milesians effected the landing and marched to the place where Tralee now stands. Now at this time there was a law of war, apparently international, that war could not be declared against an unprepared people. The Tuatha De Dananns appealed to this law. They conferred that they were not prepared to resist the Milesians, having no standing army, but that if they (the Milesians) embarked and could re-land according to the rules of war, the country should be theirs. The "wise man" of the Milesians was appealed to and he decided that they should re-embark. This they did and withdrew "the distance of nine waves" from the shore. It was then that the Tuatha De Dananns brought to their help all their magical powers. No sooner had the Milesians withdrawn the required distance when a terrible storm commenced, raised by the magic arts of Tuatha De Dananns, and the Milesian fleet was completely scattered. Many of the Milesians were drowned, including the leader Milesius himself. But his wife Scota survived, and she took over the leadership of the survivors. She led the remnant of that great fleet into Tralee bay and marched her troops across Slieve Mish. The march continued until she arrived at Glen-Scoteena, mentioned above. This glen or valley is about half a mile wide. When she arrived at the verge of the Glen, she saw the army of the Tuatha De Dananns in battle array on the opposite side. So eager was she for battle and revenge that she rode back the distance (she was seated on a beautiful white charger) of "ten lengths", and rode madly on. Her aim was to jump the glen, but she underestimated her horse-power, and the horse tumbled into the middle of the glen, killing the gallant queen, and breaking its own neck. The Milesians having seen the wonderful courage of their queen gave battle to the Tuatha De Dananns, and defeated them. The battle is known as the battle of Slieve Mish. In the evening they returned and buried the queen in the Glen. This glen has since been called - Glen Scoteen, or Scotia's Glen. Her grave is there to day and may be found by walking along the river which runs through the Glen, until a "meeting" is reached. A little up this little [?] may be seen and huge stone with many strange markings on it. This stone marks the resting place of the famous queen Scotia.

In the same neighbourhood is another glen called Glenofaisi, also called after another Milesian named Fas”.

“The Ghost of Slieve Mish”

COLLECTOR: Peggy Kavanagh

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0433, Page 024-025

Story Related by William Hanafin, Laharn age 70 years.

“Old people in this district still talk of the ghost which haunted the pass of Gleann Scoheen or Scotias Glen which contains the grave of Queen Scotia, on the Slieve Mish mountain. There is not a shadow of a doubt that such a spirit haunted this lonely pass. The spirit would come in various shapes, and not alone struck terror into the hearts of the people for miles around, but actually killed some of them. At one time it would appear as a cow, at another time as a horse, sometimes again as a sow surrounded by a litter of bonhams, but always it changed into a fierce and terrible woman. Sometimes people escaped her wrath by being very civil and obliging, but others lost their lives on the spot, or got a severe beating from the effects of which they died. Let us take for instance the case of a man named Bryan Connor, a native of Tralee. Being out late on business and in a hurry home he had no option but to ride his horse through this pass (it being a shortcut through the mountain from Castlemaine to Tralee). Seeing a feeble old woman on the road he offered her a ride on horseback. The old woman instantly sprang on the horses's back to the surprise of the rider. They had not gone very far when the horse began to tire. The man remarked that he did not know what had come over his animal. Instantly the woman jumped from behind him and said "I had at first intended to kill you, But you kindness has spared your life" and the man continued his homeward journey in safety. Two travelers named O Shea were, a man and his wife were not so fortunate. They entered into conflict with her and both were killed. This spirit haunts the pass for many years until a priest Fr Jon Carmody P.P (Parish Priest) of Castlemaine banished her. A part of the mountain is still known as the "SPirits Leap".

References & Links:

[1] "Scotia`s Glen through the ages", Paul Tempan, Kerry Magazine, No. 17 (2007), p.11-12

[2] https://stairnaheireann.net/2016/03/21/queen-scotia-from-egypt-to-ireland/comment-page-1/

[3] https://www.activeme.ie/guides/queen-scotias-grave-walk-scotias-glen-kerry/

[4] "The Lore of the Bard: A Guide to the Celtic and Druid Mysteries" By Arthur Rowan

[5] "The Great Book of Kerry", Sean Quinlan, Vol. 1, p.105

[6] "Kerry Diamonds: Fact and Folklore" by Patrick N. Wyse Jackson, Kerry Magazine No. 25

[7] https://www.gemlab.co.in/red-jasper-meaning-properties/

[8] https://www.crystalvaults.com/crystal-encyclopedia/amethyst

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