A Covenanter’s Cave: Begg’s Hole, between Wigtown and Whithorn #History #Scotland

Begg's Hole

According to a later tradition in the OS name book for Sorbie parish in Wigtownshire, a cave not far from Garliestown known as Begg’s Hole was where a Covenanter hid:

‘A small cave of natural construct situated by the edge of high water & on the west side of Wigtown Bay its entrance is narrow and the interior comprises a space of 90 links by 20 links. It is said to have been the resort or hiding place of a man named Beggs during a period of religious persecution, hence the name.’

For a second time, I am very grateful to Nicholas Coombey for pointing out the existence of a record of this cave in the OS name books. Nic has previously identified Garrerie’s Cove as a Covenanter cave. You can visit Solway Coastwise for more fascinating caves, here.

As a link was about 20cm in measurement. a cave of 90 links by 20 links would be around 1,800cm x 400cm in size.


The place name is often mistaken for the name of a small inlet and its positioning on modern maps adds to that impression. However, it is clear from the original OS name book that Begg’s Hole was a cave. The cave presumably lies by the inlet above the high water mark. Or, perhaps, the inlet might be the collapsed cave?

Map of Begg’s Hole

It might be possible that the ‘James Begg, in Whiteholm’ found appended to the published Fugitive Roll of 1684 is an error for a James Begg “in Whithorn”, which lies nearby, but the transcription of the text in Wodrow is clearly ‘Whiteholm’. Begg was the only fugitive of that surname. (Wodrow, History, IV, 28.)

Once again, thank you for the information Nic. I wonder if it is still there? As far as I can tell, no one has found and photographed the cave.

For other “lost” landscapes of the Covenanters in Galloway, see here.

For more on Covenanters in Sorbie parish, see here.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or other social networks or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on January 17, 2018.

3 Responses to “A Covenanter’s Cave: Begg’s Hole, between Wigtown and Whithorn #History #Scotland”

  1. […] of this cave in the OS name books. Nic has previously identified both Garrerie’s Cave and Begg’s Hole as caves that tradition claims were used by Covenanters as hiding […]

  2. Went in search of Beggs Cave but didn’t find any caves above high water mark. Found a hole in the rocks with what looks like a cave behind at the right location but it was filled with water at high tide – not a promising hiding place!
    Will post some images on coastwise facebook page over the weekend

    • Hi Nic, wonderful. Really looking forward to that. It seems such large cave I’ve begun to suspect the inlet was the cave. If it was below high water line, then I’m with you on it being an unlikely hiding place. Mark

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