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BLACK DONALD

Black Donald (Scottish Gaelic: Domhnall Dubh or Domnuill-dhu) is a Highland colloquialism for the Devil in Scottish mythology. The defining characteristic of Black Donald is his cloven feet, which betray whatever disguise he assumes.
The boobrie is a mythical water bird of Scottish Highlands folklore. It is said to be similar to a great northern diver, but with white markings and the ability to roar. The creature is the metamorphosed form of the each uisge and haunts lochs and salt wells.

boobrie

BOOBRIE

ghillie dhu

GHILLIE DHU

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.

Scotlands best known Mythological creature is of course the Loch Ness monster, She is known all over the World,

and we just love her to bits here in Scotland. Click here for more on our most famous daughter.

THE BROWNIE
A brownie/brounie or urisk (Lowland Scots) or brùnaidh, ùruisg, or gruagach (Scottish Gaelic) is a legendary kind of creature popular in folklore around Scotland and England (especially the north, though more commonly hobs have this role). It is the Scottish and Northern English counterpart of the Scandinavian tomte, the Slavic domovoi or the German Heinzelmännchen.


Customarily brownies are said to inhabit houses and aid in tasks around the house. However, they don't like to be seen and will only work at night, traditionally in exchange for small gifts or food. They take quite a delight in porridge and honey. They usually abandon the house if their gifts are called payments, or if the owners of the house misuse them. Brownies make their homes in an unused part of the house.

The ùruisg had the qualities of man and spirit curiously commingled. He had a peculiar fondness for solitude at certain seasons of the year. About the end of Harvest he became more sociable, and hovered about farmyards, stables and cattle-houses. He had a particular fondness for the products of the dairy, and was a fearful intruder on milkmaids, who made regular libations of milk or cream to charm him off, or to procure his favour. He could be seen supposedly only by those who had the second sight, though instances where he made himself visible to people not so Gifted have been rumoured. He is said to have been a jolly personable being with a broad blue bonnet, flowing yellow hair, and a long walking staff.

Every manor house had its ùruisg, and in the kitchen, close by the fire was a seat, which was left unoccupied for him. The house of a proprietor on the banks of the River Tay was even at the beginning of the twentieth century believed to have been haunted by this sprite, and a particular apartment therein has been for centuries called "Seòmar Bhrùnaidh" (Brownie’s room). When irritated through neglect or disrespectful treatment he would not hesitate to become wantonly mischievous. He was notwithstanding, rather gainly and good-natured rather than formidable. Though, on the whole, a lazy, lounging hobgoblin, he would often bestir himself on behalf of those who understood his humours, and suited themselves thereto. When in this mood, he was known to perform many arduous exploits in kitchen, barn and stable, with marvellous precision and rapidity. These kind turns were done without bribe, fee or reward, for the offer of any one of these would banish him forever. Kind treatment was all he ever wished for, and it never failed to procure his favour.

In 1703, John Brand wrote in his description of Zetland that:

“Not above forty or fifty years ago, every family had a brownie, or evil spirit, so called, which served them, to which they gave a sacrifice for his service; as when they churned their milk, they took a part thereof, and sprinkled every corner of the house with it, for Brownie’s use; likewise, when they brewed, they had a stone which they called ‘Brownie’s stane’, wherein there was a little hole into which they poured some wort for a sacrifice to Brownie. They also had some stacks of corn, which they called Brownie’s Stacks, which, though they were not bound with straw ropes, or in any way fenced as other stacks used to be, yet the greatest storm of wind was not able to blow away straw off them.”
The brownies seldom discoursed with man, but they held frequent and affectionate converse with one another. They had their general assemblies too, and on those occasions they commonly selected for their rendezvous the rocky recesses of some remote torrent, whence their loud voices, mingling with the water’s roar, carried to the ears of some wondering superstition detached parts of their unearthly colloquies. In a certain district of the Scottish Highlands, "Peallaidh an Spùit" (Peallaidh of the Spout), "Stochdail a’ Chùirt", and "Brùnaidh an Easain" (Brownie of the little waterfall) were names of note at those congresses, and they still live in legends which continue to amuse old age and infancy. Every stream in Breadalbane had an ùruisg once according to Watson the Scottish place name expert, and their king was Peallaidh. (Peallaidh's name is preserved in "Obair Pheallaidh", known in English as "Aberfeldy".) It may be the case, that ùruisg was conflated with some water sprite, or that ùruisg were originally water sprites conflated with brownies.

British folklore also included a figure, Billy Blind or Billy Blin, much like the brownie, but appearing only in ballads.

FACHEN
The Fachen (also known as Fachan or Fachin or Peg Leg Jack ) is a creature with only half a body in Scottish and Scots-Irish folklore. Supposedly its appearance, which includes a mane of black feathers tufted at the top and a very wide mouth, is so frightening that it induces heart attacks. It can destroy an orchard with a chain in its strong, singular, withered arm, in a single night. A story in John Francis Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands features a Fachen named Nesnas Mhiccallain being defeated in a race by the story's hero, Murachadh Mac Brian, who became king of Ireland. In Popular Tales of the West Highlands the Fachen is described as follows:

Ugly was the make of the Fachin; there was one hand out of the ridge of his chest, and one tuft out of the top of his head, it were easier to take a mountain from the root than to bend that tuft.

It is also known as Direach Ghlinn Eitidh, or the Dwarf of Glen Etive.

KELPIE

The kelpie is a supernatural water horse from Celtic folklore that is believed to haunt the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland.

Its hide was supposed to be black (though in some stories it was white), and will appear to be a lost pony, but can be identified by its constantly dripping mane. Its skin is like that of a seal, smooth, but is as cold as death when touched. The horse's appearance is strong, powerful, and breathtaking. Water horses are also known to transform into handsome men in order to lure women into their traps. It is understood that the nostril of the horse is what creates the illusion of grandeur. The water horse also creates illusions to keep itself hidden, keeping only its eye above water to scout the surface, much like the illusion of a fish's pupil. It is wise to keep away from them. If a human climbs on the back of a water horse, the horse will often dive into the water and drown its rider. If a human gains control over the horse it can be put to work in fields. Water Horses have the strength of ten land horses and do not like to be enslaved and will try every trick to escape. The water horse then courts its master for several years before it consumes only the left leg and right hand pinky finger of the victim.

The water horse is also a common form of the kelpie, said to lure mortals, especially children, into the water to drown and eat them. It performs this act by encouraging children to ride on its back. Once its victims fall into its trap, the kelpie's skin becomes adhesive and it bears them into the river, dragging them to the bottom of the water and devouring them - except the heart or liver. A common Scottish tale is the story of nine children lured onto a kelpie's back, while a tenth keeps his distance. The kelpie chases him and tries to catch him, but he escapes. A variation on this is that the tenth child simply strokes the kelpie's nose, but when his finger becomes stuck to it he takes a knife from his pocket and cuts his own finger off. He saves himself, but is unable to help his friends as they are pulled underwater with the kelpie. Commonly known as spirits of the dead, kelpies are not benevolent creatures.

An exception is a Scottish tale in which, towards the end of the mystical period of Scotland, a water horse fails to travel to Tír na nÓg with its fellow mystic folk, and instead rises above water, seeking a wife. However, after attempting to court a clever girl, who consults the wiseman about the situation, he is captured and forced to work in order to be taught compassion. After learning his lesson, he is given the choice of departing to Tír na nÓg, or drinking a magic potion that will make him a real man. The water horse, now full of love decides to drink the potion which erases the memories of his life as a water horse and gives him the chance to live with the clever girl with whom he has fallen in love.

red cap

RED CAP

A Red Cap or Redcap, also known as a powrie or dunter, is a type of imaginary malevolent murderous dwarf, goblin, elf or fairy found in Border Folklore. They are said to inhabit ruined castles found along the border between England and Scotland. Redcaps are said to murder travelers who stray into their homes and dye their hats with their victims' blood (from which they get their name).Redcaps must kill regularly, for if the blood staining their hats dries out, they die. Redcaps are very fast in spite of the heavy iron pikes they wield and the iron-shod boots they wear. Outrunning a redcap is supposedly impossible; the only way to escape one is to quote a passage from the Bible. They lose a tooth on hearing it, which they leave behind.

They are depicted as sturdy old men with red eyes, taloned hands and large teeth, wearing a red cap and bearing a pikestaff in the left hand

The tale of one in Perthshire has him as more benign; living in a room in Grantully Castle, he bestows good fortune on those who see or hear him.

The Kabouter, or redcaps of Dutch folklore, are very different, and more akin to brownies

selkies

SELKIES

Selkies (also known as silkies or selchies) are creatures found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish mythology.

They can transform themselves from seals to humans. The legend apparently originated on the Orkney Islands, where selch or selk(ie) is the Scots word for seal (from Old English seolh).


Selkies are able to transform to human form by shedding their seal skins, and can return to seal form by putting it back on. Stories concerning selkies are generally romantic tragedies. Sometimes the human will not know that their lover is a selkie, and wakes to find them gone. Other times the human will hide the selkie's skin, thus preventing them from returning to seal form. A selkie can only make contact with one particular human for a short amount of time before they must return to the sea. They are not able to make contact with that human again for seven years, unless the human is to steal their selkie's skin and hide it or burn it.[citation needed] Examples of such stories are The Grey Selkie of Suleskerry, a ballad, and the movie The Secret of Roan Inish.

In The Secret of Roan Inish, a fisherman steals the selkie's pelt while she is sunbathing. She is then forced to return to his house, as she cannot escape back into the sea, and becomes his wife and bears him children. The skin of the seal gives her power over men, but without it she is a mortal woman, trapped on land, slave to the whims of her husband. The life there slowly suffocates her and she spends much time splashing in the shallows of the ocean. Years later, one of the children sees the pelt and asks what it is. The wife immediately knows, drops what she is doing and retrieves the pelt from its hiding place, having long ago despaired of ever finding it. She does not hesitate; she rushes to the ocean to return to her former life as a seal.

The selkie legend is also told in Wales, but in a slightly different form. The selkies are humans who have returned to the sea. Dylan (Dylan Eil Don) the firstborn of Arianrhod, was variously a merman or sea spirit, who in some versions of the story escapes to the sea immediately after birth.

In the Faroe Islands there are two versions of the story of the Selkie or Seal Wife. A young farmer from the town of Mikladalur on Kalsoy island goes to the beach to watch the selkies dance. He hides the skin of a beautiful selkie maid, so she can't go back to sea, and forces her to marry him. He keeps her skin in a chest, and keeps the key with him both day and night. One day when out fishing, he discovers that he has forgotten to bring his key. When he returns home, the selkie wife has escaped back to sea, leaving their children behind. Later, when the farmer on a hunt kills both her selkie husband and two selkie sons, she promises to take revenge upon the men of Mikladalur. Some shall be drowned, some shall fall from cliffs and slopes, and this shall continue, until so many men have been lost that they will be able to link arms around the whole island of Kallsoy.

Male selkies are very handsome in their human form, and have great seduction powers over human women. They typically seek those who are dissatisfied with their romantic life. This includes married women waiting for their fishermen husbands. If a woman wishes to make contact with a selkie male, she has to go to a beach and shed seven tears into the sea.

If a man steals a female selkie's skin, she is in his power, to an extent, and she is forced to become his wife — a regional variant on the motif of the swan maiden, unusual in that the bride's animal form is usually a bird. Female selkies are said to make excellent wives, but because their true home is the sea, they will often be seen gazing longingly at the ocean. If she finds her skin again, she will immediately return to her true home, and sometimes to her selkie husband, in the sea.

Sometimes, a selkie maiden is taken as a wife by a human man and she has several children by him. In these stories, it is one of her children who discovers her sealskin (often unwitting of its significance) and she soon returns to the sea. The selkie woman usually avoids seeing her human husband again but is sometimes shown visiting her children and playing with them in the waves.

Selkies are not always faithless lovers. One tale tells of the fisherman Cagan who married a seal-woman. Against his wife's wishes he set sail dangerously late in the year, and was trapped battling a terrible storm, unable to return home. His wife shifted to her seal form and saved him, even though this meant she could never return to her human body and hence her happy home.

Some stories from Shetland have selkies luring islanders into the sea at midsummer, the lovelorn humans never returning to dry land.

Seal shapeshifters similar to the selkie exist in the folklore of many cultures. A corresponding creature existed in Swedish legend, and the Chinook Indians of North America have a similar tale of a boy who changes into a seal (see the children's story The Boy Who Lived With The Seals by Rafe Martin). Jane Yolen incorporated such a shapeshifters as a selkie into her picture book, Greyling.

sidhe

SIDHE

In Irish mythology, the aos sí , older form aes sídhe, Irish pronunciation are a powerful, supernatural race comparable to the fairies or elves. They are variously believed to live underground in the fairy mounds, across the western sea, or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans. This world is described in the Book of Invasions (Book of Leinster) as a parallel universe in which the aos sí walk amongst the living.

In the Irish language, aos sí means "people of the mounds". In Irish literature they are also referred to as the daoine sídhe ("deena shee"), and in Scottish Gaelic literature as the daoine sìth or daoine sìdh. They are variously believed to be the ancestors, the spirits of nature, or the goddesses and gods themselves.


In many Gaelic tales, the aos sí are later, literary versions of the Tuatha Dé Danann ("people of the Goddess Danu" - the deities and deified ancestors of Irish mythology). Some sources describe them as the remaining survivors of the Tuatha Dé Danann who retreated into the Otherworld after they were defeated by the Milesians. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions) the Tuatha Dé Danann were defeated in battle by the Milesians - the mortal Sons of Míl Espáine who, like many other early invaders of Ireland, came from Spain. Geoffrey Keating, an Irish historian from the late 17th century, equates Spain with the Land of the Dead. Many scholars alive today agree with Keating’s opinion.

In folk belief and practice, the aos sí are often propitiated with offerings, and care is taken to avoid angering or insulting them. Often they are not named directly, but rather spoken of with euphemisms such as "The Good Neighbors," "The Fair Folk," or simply "The Folk", in the hope that if humans describe them as kind, they are more likely to be so. In this vein, the most common names for them, aos sí, aes sídhe, daoine sídhe (singular duine sídhe) and daoine sìth mean, literally, "people of peace".

Aos sí are sometimes seen as fierce guardians of their abodes - whether that be a fairy hill, a fairy ring, a special tree (often a hawthorn), or perhaps a particular loch or wood. The Gaelic Otherworld is seen as being closer at the times of dusk and dawn, therefore this is seen as a time special to the aos sí, as are some of the festivals such as Samhain, Beltane and Midsummer. The aos sí are generally described as stunningly beautiful, though they can also be terrible and hideous.


As part of the surrender terms in their loss against the Milesians, the Tuatha Dé Danann agreed to retreat and dwell underground in the sídhe (modern Irish: sí; Scottish Gaelic: sìth; Old Irish síde, singular síd), the hills or earthen mounds that dot the Irish landscape. In some of the later poetry, we find that each leader of one of the tribes of the Tuatha Dé Danann was given one mound.

In a number of later, English language texts, the word sídhe was used for both the mounds and the people of the mounds. However, this is a modern phenomenon, and sidh in older texts refers specifically to "the palaces, courts, halls or residences" of "the ghostly beings which according to Gaedhelic mythology inhabited them" (O'Curry, E., Lectures on Manuscript Materials, Dublin 1861, p504, quoted by Evans-Wentz 1966, p291).

The fact that many of these sídhe have been found to be ancient burial mounds has contributed to the theory that the aos sí were the pre-Celtic occupants of Ireland. The Book of Invasions, the Annals of the Four Masters, and the oral history, all point in this direction. The Christian influence on these documents is quite small, which allows for a great deal of history to be taken from their contexts.

Other views allow for these stories to be presented as a case of pure mythology, deriving from Greek cultural influence. The key arguments derive from a main source, Hesiod’s Works and Days. In Works and Days, Hesiod portrays the basic moral foundation and plantation techniques for citizens of Greece. He also paints a picture of the races of men, created by the Greek deities.

The story of the Aes Sídhe has been spread consistently over Scotland and Ireland, with many tales referring to how the Norse invaders drove Scottish inhabitants underground to live in the hills. This is just one part of the legend, and contributes specifically to the Changeling myth in Western-European folklore.

The Banshee or bean sídhe, which simply means "woman of the sídhe", has come to specifically indicate the supernatural women of Ireland who announce an oncoming death by their wailing and keening. Her counterpart in Scottish mythology is the bean shìth (sometimes spelled bean-shìdh). Other varieties of aos sí and daoine sìth include the Scottish bean nighe - the washerwoman who is seen washing the bloody clothing or armour of the person who is doomed to die; the leanan sídhe - the "fairy lover"; the Cat Sìth - a fairy cat; and the Cu Sìth - fairy dog. The sluagh sídhe - "the fairy host" are sometimes depicted in Irish and Scottish lore as airborne spirits of an unpleasant nature, and perhaps the cursed, evil or restless dead.

SHELLYCOAT
In Scottish and Northern English[ folklore, a shellycoat is a type of bogeyman that haunts rivers and streams. The name comes from the coat of shells these creatures are said to wear, which rattle upon movement. Shellycoats are considered to be relatively harmless; they may mislead wanderers, particularly those they think are trespassing upon the creature's territory, but without malice. A common tactic of a shellycoat would be to cry out as if drowning and then laugh at the distracted victim.

Many places on the coast of Scotland have names that reference the shellycoat. Supposedly, shellycoats are particularly fond of the area around the river Hermitage, in Liddesdale.

As described above, the shellycoat shares many of the traits of the Brag, Kelpie and Nix.

THE LINTON WORM

The Linton Worm is a mythical beast referred to in a Scottish borders legend dating back to the 12th century. "Wyrm" is the Old English for serpent. A 12th century writer believed it to be "In length three Scots yards and bigger than an ordinary man’s leg - in form and callour to our common muir edders." The myth is similar to that of the more famous Lambton Worm.

The monster lived in a hollow on the northeast side of Linton Hill, a spot still known as the "Worm’s Den", in Roxburghshire on the Scottish borders. Emerging from its lair at dusk and dawn to ravage the countryside, eating crops, livestock and people, it proved invulnerable to the weapons ranged against it. The surrounding area became ruined by the beast's predations.

The news reached the ears of one (William or John) de Somerville The Laird of Lariston a man of reckless courage who was in the South at that time he came to the nearby village of Jedburgh and heard the lurid tales of the locals. Observing the beast himself he saw that the creature would open its mouth wide to swallow anything in its path but when faced with something too large to eat would remain still, with its mouth open. Sensing an opportunity he went to a local blacksmith and had him forge an iron covered spear with wheel at its tip which could impale a hunk of peat tipped in tar and brimstone. He practised riding with the burning spear to accustom his horse to the smoke.

He approached the worm's hideout with his servant at dawn. He knew that sitting on his horse he would prove too large for the creature to swallow. As if at a joust, he attacked it, plunging his burning lance into the monster's gaping mouth and down its throat, mortally wounding it.

The writhing death throes of the Linton Worm supposedly created the curious topography of the hills of the region, an area that came to be known as "wormington". The animal retreated to its lair to die, its thrashing tail bringing down the mountain around it and burying it forever. The legend states that his heroism was memorialised with a carved stone at Linton Kirk. He was made Royal Falconer, knighted and made "First Barrone" of Linton. The crest of the Somervilles was a wyvern (heraldic dragon) perched on a wheel

MORAG OF LOCH MORAR
Morag or Mòrag (Scottish Gaelic) is a loch monster reported to live in Loch Morar, Scotland. After Nessie, it is among the best known of Scotland's legendary monsters.The name "Morag" is a pun on the name of the Loch, and of the Scottish female name, "Morag". Sightings date back to 1887, and include some 34 incidents as of 1981. Sixteen of these involved multiple witnesses.In 1948 "a peculiar serpent-like creature about 20 ft long" was reported by nine people in a boat, in the same place as the 1887 sighting.The best known encounter, in 1969, featured two men, Duncan McDonnel and William Simpson, and their speedboat, with which they accidentally struck the creature, prompting it to hit back. McDonnel retaliated with an oar, and Simpson opened fire with his rifle, whereupon it sank slowly out of sight. They described it as being brown, 25-30 feet long, and with rough skin. It had three humps rising 18 inches (460 mm) above the loch's surface, and a head a foot wide, held 18 inches (460 mm) out of the water.

A pair of photographs taken in 1977 by Miss M Lindsay show an object in the loch which is claimed to be Morag. The object appears to have moved several yards from one picture to the other. The first picture shows a round back, while the second picture seems to show two humps.

The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau expanded its search to include Loch Morar in February 1970.

Several expeditions with the aim to prove or find the monster have been made, but no evidence for an unknown, large creature has been found.

THE BIG GREY MAN OF BEN MacDHUI

Am Fear Liath Mòr also known as The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui or simply The Greyman is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Britain. It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Evidence of the existence of this creature is limited to various sightings and a few photographs of unusual footprints.

It was traditionally seen as a supernatural being, but Am Fear Liath Mòr has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalaya and the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America. References to wild 'Greymen' in Scotland and similar creatures elsewhere in Europe, sometimes called Wudewas or 'Wood Men', date back to the 13th century, and are believed by some to represent relict hominids.

In 1925, the noted climber John Norman Collie recounted a terrifying experience he had endured while alone near the summit of Ben MacDhui some 35 years before. "I began to think I heard something else than merely the noise of my own footsteps. For every few steps I took I heard a crunch, and then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own." Collie was unable to make out the source of the noises because of mist, and continued "... [as] the eerie crunch, crunch, sounded behind me, I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the boulders for four or five miles." Other climbers have also reported similar experiences, many describing uncontrollable feelings of fear and panic, some actually seeing a huge grey figure behind them, and others only hearing sounds or even succumbing to inexplicable feelings of terror while in the area.

In the Matt Lamy book 100 Strangest Unexplained Mysteries, Lamy notes a sighting in the early 1990s in which three men caught sight of a bipedal creature with an eerie, inhuman, face in a forest near Aberdeen. Several weeks later, whilst driving through the area at night, the creature appeared again and ran alongside their car even at speeds of 45 miles per hour, seemingly trying to enter the vehicle.

Similar panic responses have been reported in many North American Sasquatch encounters, and explanations involving infrasound or pheromones have been advanced. Cryptozoologist Karl Shuker has expressed belief that the creature is the guardian of an inter-dimensional portal in his 1997 book, The Unexplained. However, hallucinations and panic brought on by isolation and exhaustion, or an optical illusion similar to the Brocken spectre, are very plausible explanations for the Big Grey Man legend. A Brocken spectre, or 'glory', can occur in certain atmospheric conditions when the sun is at a particular angle. The subject's shadow can be cast onto low lying clouds around them, creating the illusion of a large shadowy humanoid figure. This is the most commonly advanced theory to explain the reported sightings.