Here we take a look at the best Scottish myths and stories and to be honest, some of them are quite scary!
The mythical kelpie is a supernatural water horse that was said to haunt Scotland’s lochs and lonely rivers. The kelpie would appear to victims as a lost dark grey or white pony but could be identified by its constantly dripping mane. It would entice people to ride on its back, before taking them down to a watery grave.
Selkies were mythical creatures that could transform themselves from seal to human form and back again. The legend of the selkie apparently originated on the Orkney and Shetland Islands where selch or selk(ie) is the Scots word for seal.
Tales once abounded of a man who found a beautiful female selkie sunbathing on a beach, stole her skin and forced her to become his wife and bear his children, only for her to find the skin years later and escape back to seal form and the sea.
3. The Loch Ness Monster
One of Scotland’s most famous unsolved mysteries is that of the Loch Ness Monster. The large dinosaur-like creature is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. The first recorded sighting of the monster was nearly 1,500 years ago when a giant beast is said to have leaped out of a lake near Inverness and ate a local farmer. Since then the myth of the Loch Ness Monster has magnified.
4. Robert the Bruce and the Spider
Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland in 1306. Edward I of England took immediate action, forcing him into hiding. According to legend, at some point while he was on the run and when he was at his lowest ebb, Bruce hid himself in a cave. There, he watched a spider spinning a web from one part of the cave to the other. Watching the spider try and try again to build her web before succeeding is said to have inspired Bruce to carry on fighting the English. He did so, and after the death of Edward I in 1307, Bruce defeated Edward II’s armies at Bannockburn in 1314.
5. Sawney Bean
The story of Sawney Bean is one of the most gruesome Scottish legends, and wouldn’t be out of place in a modern horror movie. It is unknown whether Alexander ‘Sawney’ Bean was actually a real person or just a creation of Scottish folklore, but the story is certainly of some intrigue.
According to legend, Sawney Bean was the head of a criminal, cannibalistic family in the 15th century, during the reign of King James I of Scotland. It is claimed that he, his wife and 46 children and grandchildren killed and fed on over a thousand people before they were captured and executed.
A Wulver is a werewolf in Shetland, that is said to have had the body of a man with a wolf’s head. It was reported to have left fish on the windowsills of poor families.
7. The blue men of Minch
These little guys are blue-skinned men who lived in the water between Lewis and mainland Scotland, looking for sailors to drown and boats to sink.
8. Bean Nighe
Scottish Gaelic for ‘washer woman’, is a Scottish fairy seen as an omen of death. It is said she could be found by streams and pools washing the clothes of those who are about to die. That is pretty scary!
The Shellycoat is a Scottish bogeyman who haunts the rivers and streams. He is covered with shells, which rattle when he moves, announcing his presence. He enjoys misleading wanderers and often puts them on the wrong track. The Shellycoat is playful, but rather harmless. Generally, the creatures who inhabit rivers are less dangerous than those who live in lakes and seas.
The Fachan is a very ugly creature from the western highlands of Scotland. He is portrayed with one leg, one arm and one eye.
11. Ghillie Dhu
The Ghillie Dhu is a solitary Scottish elf who lives in birches. His clothes are woven from leaves and moss.
The Scottish name for the Devil. The name comes from cloot, meaning one division of a cleft hoof. A common variant of the epithet is Old Cloots. There is a piece of land, called Clootie’s Croft, that is left untilled or found untillable as a gift to the Devil. Another provincial English and Scottish euphemism for the Devil is Horny or Old Horny.