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In Scottish folklore the Ghillie Dhu or Gille Dubh is a faerie, a guardian spirit of the trees. He is kind to children, but generally wild and shy. Said to be dark haired, he is described as clothed in leaves and moss (similar to a Green Man in England and Wales). He especially likes birch trees, and is most active at night. In lore, this solitary spirit is said to reside primarily near Gairloch and Loch a Druing.
It is also a term used in song, including "code-songs" in which it was used to symbolize the Stuart heir, probably deriving from the time when the future Charles II, son of the executed Charles I, was in exile following the English Civil War. Charles was dark-hued, with black hair, and so was given the code-name "Gille Dubh." The term was later extended to mean his younger brother, ( James VII and II), after he was exiled following the rebellion that put his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange on the throne.
Gille Dubh translates from Scottish Gaelic as "dark haired lad".
- Mackenzie, Osgood Hanbury (1949). A Hundred Years in the Highlands
- Briggs, Katharine Mary (2002). The Fairies in Tradition and Literature. p. 284. Routledge; 2nd ed. (July 30, 2002).