Tomnadashan Mine / Cave of Caerbannog
Are you on a quest for the Holy Grail? It might just be at Tomnadashan Mine near Aberfeldy in Perth and Kinross!
Tomnadashan Mine is an abandoned mine established in the mid-1800s by John Campbell (2nd Marquess of Breadalbane) to find copper, gold and sulphur. Lord Breadalbane was unsuccessful in his hunt for these precious materials; little did he know it would go on to be used in a famous Monty Python film - one of my favourite comedies of all time.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail filming site
Monty Python and Holy Grail (1975) is a British comedy film roughly following the Arthurian legends, King Arthur is on a quest by god (who is a cardboard cut out in the sky) to find the mythical holy grail. Stand-out scenes in this movie include the Black Knight and The Knights who say ni!
The scene I remember the most as a child (yes, I shouldn't have been watching this film as a child!) is that of the beast of Caerbannog.
“Bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth.” - Tim the Enchanter.
The story builds up the fearsome Beast of Caerbannog (also called the Black Beast of Arrrghhh) that the knights of the round table must battle to find the holy grail. Tim the Enchanter (played by John Cleese) takes them to the Cave of Caerbannog, and they peer at it from the nearby rocks.
Tim suddenly bursts out to a chorus of scary music, "There he is!" but all that appears is a single white bunny rabbit. The knights laugh at Tim, and King Arthur sends Sir Bors to kill the rabbit.
Sir Bors confidently approaches the rabbit, but it lurches at him and bites his head clean off! The rest of the knights charge the killer rabbit, but it flies at speed between them, savagely biting at their necks and their heads off.
King Arthur sounds the retreat, "Run away!" and the remaining knights return to the rocks.
The rabbit is finally defeated when King Arthur uses a religious artefact called "The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch", throwing it at the rabbit and blowing it up! I loved this scene as a child, despite the gore of it!
An interesting bit of trivia is that a real rabbit was used for the scene and borrowed for use in the film. Unfortunately, the red dye used for blood could not be cleaned from the rabbit, so the owner received a "blood-stained" rabbit, which she was a bit annoyed about.
How to get to Tomnadashan Mine
Tomnadashan Mine can be found on the east side of Loch Tay about halfway, just south of the Ardtalnaig Burn. The nearest settlement is Killin to the southwest, found at the joining of the River Dochart and River Lochay. Aberfeldy lies to the northeast of the mine.
The road along the east side of Loch Tay is single-track (very narrow roadway), so be aware of passing places while on your quest.
Start your journey to Tomnadashan Mine by following the directions on Google Maps to the wooden gates at the edge of a field seen here. Be mindful of limited parking space, as only one car can fit at a time (and try not the block the farmer's field access). Be aware of sheep, particularly rams, that might inhabit the field.
Follow the fence on the left side of the Google Streetview image above. There is a rough, steep path that climbs the hill.
You'll soon reach a grassy area with small mounds dotting the hillside. Keep an eye out for trees on your left as you make your way slightly more centrally up the hill.
As you continue to climb, you'll come across a low rocky wall on your left and a larger mound on your right.
Keep an eye out for a tree that seems to be sprouting from a cave; this is your destination. The path will descend to the cave from the right side of the tree.
Python stars Terry Jones and Michael Palin tried to revisit Tomnadashan Mine for the 25th anniversary of the film in 2000 but were unable to find the mine; hopefully, you will have more luck!
Many people take a white bunny toy as a photo prop to recreate the iconic movie setting... you will also understand if you find coconut husks!
Tomnadashan Mine FAQs
Is Caerbannog a real place?
Yes, it's a real place, but that is its fictional name from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail film. Its real name is Tomnadashan Mine, founded in the mid-1800s, one of Lord Breadalbane's mines.
What is the name of the Cave in Monty Python?
Tomnadashan Mine is the fictional Cave of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Is it possible to explore Tomnadashan Mine?
It's possible to go into the cave; it's pretty dark, though, and could be dangerous. Given its relatively remote location, I would advise against exploring the cave.
Is there anything else to see near Tomnadashan Mine?
Here are a few places near Tomnadashan Mine that might be of interest to you:
Croft Moraig Stone Circle.
Falls of Dochart.
The Fortingall Yew.
Old Lawyers Village.
Craig na Dun (Outlander standing stones filming location).
Tomnadashan Mine video clip
Here is the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail; please note there is humorous fake violence/blood in this video that is not suitable for younger viewers.
If you are a lover of the Monty Python TV show and films, then while in this area, a pilgrimage to Tomnadashan Copper Mine must surely be on the cards. Just be sure to keep a spare holy hand grenade, just in case!
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