The mysterious Tigh nam Bodach Stones of Glen Cailliche have been saved from disruption. A planning application for a hydro scheme at Allt Cailliche near Loch Lyon, which posed a threat to the site of ancient Celtic heritage, was unexpectedly withdrawn in September by landowner Adam Besterman.
He died shortly afterwards aged 51 and, although other schemes on the Auch Estate in Glen Lyon are still lodged with P&K planning, glen residents are delighted that the peace and tranquility of that particular remote beauty spot is safe for the present.
Earlier this year (see below) plans were lodged for four run-of-the-river developments on the estate, one of which would bring construction traffic within metres of the sacred Tigh nam Bodach site.

Time-Honoured Ritual
Local legend has it that the group of bell-shaped waterstones in Glen Cailliche represents a family. The place name, in Gaelic means ‘House of the Old Man’. The stone family and their house form a pre-Christian shrine. It’s recognised to be the oldest, uninterrupted pagan ritual in Britain, some say in all of Europe.
Every year, at the Autumn fire festival of Samhain, the ‘family’ is carefully put inside the ‘house’. The stones are brought out again as the glen stirs into life at Beltane, on 1 May. Since time immemorial, a local person has been entrusted to do this.
Attention was drawn increasingly to the negative impact of the proposed hydro schemes. Glen Cailliche is remote and uninhabited; to get there involves a long walk.
There was concern that rare birds like Merlins and Golden Eagles would be scared away from their breeding grounds. Jamie Grant of the Glenlyon History Society pointed out the likely impact of tapping the hydro power. “With this kind of development, you’re talking upgrading of existing tracks, new access tracks, borrow pit, power house, overhead power lines. It will alter the place forever.”

Awareness Raised
Around thirty local people and a BBC TV crew visited the Tigh nam Bodach. The move was unusual, as comparably few people are aware of the site and Glenlyon inhabitants rarely speak of it to outsiders.
Letters of objection were posted on the Perth and Kinross planning page, including a report by Scottish National Heritage. It strongly put the case against the hydro plans. “The most westerly scheme – Allt Cailliche - is proposed in the most sensitive side glen where there are no human artefacts apart from the historic Tigh nam Bodach. The introduction of the proposed intake, powerhouse, upgraded tracks and pipeline excavations could have a significant adverse impact.”
In the last five years, Glenlyon has seen the construction of several lucrative hydro schemes, but local residents have not been offered anything to offset the delays and disruption experienced during the construction.
Later in the summer, expert dyker, Norman Haddow and a group of volunteers camped at the Tigh nam Bodach stones and rebuilt the walls of the tiny house. Norman was delighted by the result. “I’ve been wanting to do it for years and I think it gives a clear message that this highly significant place is being cared for.”

Pictured is the Family Bodach

See also: Glenlyon Hydro Schemes Threaten Celtic Heritage

 

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