The Cailleach
Also Known As: The Gatekeeper to the Spirit world
Biographical Information
Race: Goddess
Gender: Female
Family: Currently Unknown
Affiliation: The Dorocha
The Veil Between the Worlds
Enemies: {{{enemies}}}
Behind the Scenes
Portrayer: Gemma Jones
List of Appearances: The Darkest Hour
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
The Cailleach (pronounced as Kay-lyx) is the gatekeeper to the spirit world who appeared after Morgana has torn the mystical veil between her world and Albion.


After Morgana sacrifices Morgause at the Isle of the Blessed, in order to tear the Veil between her world and the Spirit world, she releases the Cailleach. The Cailleach then warns Morgana of Emrys, allegedly Morgana's destiny and doom, not telling her that he is in fact Merlin. She also informs her that the Dorocha will now be unleashed upon her enemies.

Merlin Knocked Out

Merlin loses consciousness after meeting the Cailleach

At the same time, Merlin is serving at the royal banquet for Samhain Eve, when the Cailleach appears to him. She calls him Emrys which causes Merlin to faint from the shock.

Kilgharrah later informed Merlin that it was not the spirits who demand a blood-sacrifice, but the Cailleach. When Arthur confronts her at the end of his journey, she laughes at the mention of innocent people dying and knocks Gwaine unconscious with her magic when he tries to attack her.

Before Arthur can sacrifice himself, Merlin knocks him out with his magic to confront the Cailleach. 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 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 she was unwilling to sacrifice Merlin and she did not tell Morgana that Emrys was in fact Merlin, choosing to instead name Emrys as a different person. It is possible that she only helped Morgana because she summoned her by tearing the Veil and possibly knew that her plan would later be thwarted. It is unknown why she chose to warn both Merlin and Morgana of the future and why, although she cruely laughed at the death of many people, she seemed to care for the two sorcerers.


As a goddess, the Cailleach was an incredibly 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 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 a magical combat, whose skills are great. The young warlock also aknowledged that it would be wise to avoid fighting her and instead negotiate with her.

She implied that she knew when every living beings 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 do many other sorcerers and creatures of magic.


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

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. She certainly has a strong role in series 5.

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