When she spoke, her was as though it came from the depths of the earth, and her eyes...they were so sad. So much pain in them
Merlin on the Cailleach[src]

The Cailleach is the gatekeeper to the spirit world, who appeared after Morgana tore the mystical veil between the spirit world and Albion.


After Morgana performed a Blood Sacrifice of Morgause at the Isle of the Blessed, in order to tear the Veil between her world and the Spirit world, the Cailleach appeared before her. The Cailleach explained to Morgana that the Dorocha had been released and that she was right to be afraid, while also saying that her enemies would rue the day. However, she also warned Morgana that Emrys would forever walk in her shadow, and that he would ultimately be her destiny and doom.

Merlin Knocked Out

Merlin loses consciousness after meeting the Cailleach

At the same time, Merlin was serving at the royal banquet for Samhain Eve, when the Cailleach appeared to him, calling him "Emrys". The experience resulted in Merlin fainting from shock.

Kilgharrah later informed Merlin that it was not the spirits who demanded a Blood Sacrifice in return, but the Cailleach. When Arthur confronted her at the end of his journey, she laughed at the mention of innocent people dying and telekinetically knocked Gwaine unconscious with her magic when he tried to attack her.

Before Arthur could sacrifice himself, Merlin knocked him out with his magic to confront the Cailleach himself. She tells him that his time among men is not over yet, even if he does want to sacrifice himself, as Lancelot decides to sacrifice himself instead. Once he steps into the rift, it closes and the Cailleach disappears along with the Dorocha (The Darkest Hour).


The Cailleach 3

The Cailleach as she appeared to Merlin

The Cailleach was a highly intelligent and extremely solemn being. She is almost emotionally detached from others and showed no true remorse for the people massacred by the Dorocha. The Cailleach appeared to be a very sad individual, presumably because she looked after the souls of dead people. However, she simply laughed when Arthur told her that innocent people were dying, though this was probably out of bitterness rather than cruelty. She did not seem to enjoy her position but nor did she attempt to break away from it.

The Cailleach also possessed knowledge of Emrys, as did most other creatures of magic. Despite appearing to help Morgana by summoning the Dorocha to destroy Camelot, the Cailleach did not truly appear to be evil, as this would happen when anyone performs a Blood Sacrifice, rather than being the Cailleach's doing. It is unknown why she chose to warn both Merlin and Morgana of the future and why, although she cruelly laughed at the death of many people, she seemed to care for those two sorcerers in particular. She was highly intelligent and outstandingly self-controlled and could be very manipulative and mysterious when it suited her.


As a goddess and the Gatekeeper of the Spirit World, the Cailleach was an immensely powerful being, she was the only one who could control the Dorocha, and as it is stated it is she who demands a sacrifice, it is implied only she can tear and repair the Veil between worlds. Whether she actually needs the sacrifice or simply wants it is unknown, but considering how miserable she seemed to be about looking after the souls of dead people, it is likely that she actually needs one in order to open it.

The Cailleach 2

The Cailleach speaking

It is possible that the Cailleach might be even more powerful than the Great Dragon Kilgharrah. Although the full extent of her powers have not been shown, she easily defeated Gwaine with a non verbal spell. She was also able to appear in more than one place at once, and act separately from her other self, as well as mask her appearance from all but one. Also, she was confident that she would be able to best even Merlin in magical combat, whose skills are great. The young warlock also acknowledged that it would be wise to avoid fighting her and instead negotiate with her.

She implied that she knew when every living being's time to die was, saying that Merlin's time among men was not over even if he wanted it to be. She was also aware of Merlin and his powers, calling him Emrys as did many other sorcerers and creatures of magic. It was also implied that she could see into the future to some extent since she told Morgana that Emrys would be her doom


Series 4 Enemies
The Darkest Hour: MorganaMorgauseThe DorochaThe CailleachAgravaineWilddeorenWyvern
The Wicked Day: King OdinMorganaAgravaineThe GleemanGeldred
Aithusa: Julius BordenKing Odin
His Father's Son: MorganaAgravaineQueen AnnisKing CaerleonDerian
A Servant of Two Masters: MorganaAgravaineFomorrohMerlin (indirect)
The Secret Sharer: MorganaAgravaineAlatorOrn
Lamia: LamiaAgravaine
Lancelot du Lac: MorganaLancelot (Shade) •  AgravaineDochraid
A Herald of the New Age: Shrine BoyElyan (indirect)
The Hunter's Heart: MorganaAgravaineHelios
The Sword in the Stone: MorganaAgravaineHeliosAithusaNathair

Behind the Scenes Edit

The wood used to make The Cailleach staff is conifer. It was made by Andrew Duncan who is a Bushcraft Instructor. Andrew also made the staff used by The Old Merlin in Series 4 which is made from twisted hazel.

The Cailleach seems similar to Hades or Pluto from the Greek and Roman myths, or even Osiris from Egypt, or Hel from Norse myths. It could be that she is a sorcerer who mastered life over death, keeping the eternal cycle of death and birth in place. Or she could be one of the gods Merlin mentions, the goddess of death. She seems to be similar to the Greek Thantos and Roman Letos, in the meaning that she guards the entrance to the spirit world, also acting as a herald of death.

Cailleach is Irish for "hag" and Scots Gaelic for "Old Woman".

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