The Clootie Well on the Black Isle

Bring your cloots! And let’s go make a wish at the Clootie Well on the Black Isle.

The Black Isle

The Black Isle is a peninsula near Inverness in The Highlands of Scotland. The towns and villages of the ‘Isle’ boast many excellent museums, hotels and shops. There are castles too, making the quick drive over the Kessock Bridge well worthwhile. Dismantled oil rigs can sometimes be seen on the Cromarty Firth side, as can dolphins.


Searching for the Clootie Well

Inland there are older places, special places.

We take a wrong turn while searching for the clootie well, an ancient, possibly Celtic, shrine, and then spend some time wandering among trees.

pines near the clootie well

Ah Ha! We’re on the right track now.

cloots showing the way to the clootie well

People hang cloots (cloths) beside the well and in the surrounding woodland to ask for wishes or healing. As the cloot disintegrates, healing occurs or wishes come true.

hillside of the clootie well

It’s an unusual but peaceful place. Despite the modernity of many of the hanging items, the well feels timeless. The number and variety of cloots is impressive. They extend right down the hill to the roadside.

Let’s hang our cloots now, in imagination.

Let’s make our wishes.

And may they all come true!

the clootie well

In SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, Morragh ties a cloth above a sacred spring.


I tear a small piece of fabric from the bottom of my dress and tie it to a smaller branch of the tree above to thank the spirit. She needs it not, but it is a mark to me, a sign of my reverence, and a reminder of the blessing received on this day.

The Romans called it the edge of the world

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

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“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

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36 Replies to “The Clootie Well on the Black Isle”

      1. I m not sure if it was a well but in one of the episodes they had shown a place where some cloths were hung .I don’t rem which season n which episode …It’s on Netflix …

  1. This tradition has crossed the Atlantic to Newfoundland. I recently wrote a post about Boyd’s Cove on the island where people tie pieces of cloth to trees in a spirit garden in memory of the original inhabitants, the extinct Beothuk, who were deliberately murdered so European settlers could steal their lands. I sometimes even see this on the west coast on my hikes here in B.C.

  2. That is so cool. Scotland’s ancient lands fascinate me. Be careful not to touch an ancient stone so you don’t travel back in time. (from the series, Outlander)

  3. This is quite fascinating…some indigenous peoples in Montana would do the same thing in front of a spring that was considered sacred. They’d go to the spring and hang out cloths or similar items on the branches around the spring, as a way of saying a prayer or making a wish. I find it very intriguing that people from so far away would develop similar traditions.

  4. Fantastic, Ailish. You do such a fine job of bringing to light the wonderment of your homeland. I always enjoy your blog posts and am deep into Sisters. May all your wishes come true. 🙂

  5. One of my favorite places to spend time when I was in Inverness last year. That, and getting lost in the neighboring forest as well as discovering a special little spot around Craig Dunain. Absolute bliss.

  6. Interesting how the cloots share commonality with Tibetan prayer flags in how the energy of the ‘wish’ continues as the fibers dissipate over time. Although my understanding is the Tibetan flags are to be hung in the wind, in contrast to the Scottish cloots being placed near water, so the traditions seem to be tied to different elements: air and water.

    1. That is an interesting observation. Water does seem to have been very important to the ancient people of Scotland. Pictish stones were often placed near rivers.

      1. It was interesting to learn about Pictish stones when researching Miss Livingstone’s visit to Scotland. I had wished I could have fit in more than a mention of that history. But at least the glimpse might spark someone to look them up. 🙂

          1. Very true, but somehow it adds to the flavor, I think. I seem to feel when an author spent time in knowing the details even if they’re not blatantly mentioned. I live in the world of their stories more than those that seem to rush through the research. Plus, for me it’s one of the pleasures of writing to learn about other times, places, people and cultures. Also to spread knowledge of my local history and special places.

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