Scottish Mythology: Celtic Creatures

Scottish folklore is steeped in history and cultural value. Between the mystical mountain of the Highlands and the gothic architecture peppered across the nation’s cities, it is no wonder that tales of Scottish mythological creatures can be found around every corner. In fact, Scotland’s very own national animal is a unicorn!

In this article, we will walk you through the Scottish mythology of the curious creatures that inhabit the secret depths of this great nation.

Kelpies

Kelpies are one of the most easily recognisable mythical creatures. Kelpies are a shape-shifting water god or spirit that are most commonly represented as a horse. Although, folklore dictates that they can also change form into a human.

Whilst films such as Frozen II depict these spirits as helpful rescuers, the truth behind the myth is that Kelpies lead humans to their death. These water horses allegedly lure humans to the water, before dragging them to the deepest depths and devouring them.

Perhaps the kelpie is more of a water demon than a water spirit…

Baobhan Sith

The Baobhan Sith, pronounced (baa-van shee), is a Scottish vampire or blood-sucking faerie. This vampire takes the form of a beautiful woman and can be found roaming the Scottish Highlands. Coming out only in the darkness of night, they apparently rest in buried coffins throughout the day.

Allegedly lured out by the smell of blooded clothes, she appears to men and seduces them to their death. She will begin by asking for a dance, before charming the young man and plunging in for a brutal attack. These vampires differ from Dracula in that they do not have pointed fangs. These beautiful female figures use their long, sharp fingernails to attack before drinking blood from open wounds. 

Be sure to travel on a horse through the highlands, as the iron from the horseshoe is one of the only known deterrents for these mythical creatures.

Bean Nighe

Scotland is known for its breath-taking landscapes, peppered with rocky crags and babbling brooks. Beware stepping into the rocky banks of a mountain stream, however, as the Bean Nighe is poised to meet you.

The Bean Nighe is one of the oldest spirits. Depicted as either an old hag or a beautiful woman, her name is translated simply to “the washerwoman”. She haunts the water’s edge, pounding laundry against the rocks. On deeper inspection, you will see that she is washing the bloodied grave clothes of those that are about to die.

Encounters with the washerwoman are said to vary in intensity. Some say she will tell you the names of those destined to meet their untimely death. Others say that she will grant you a wish if you approach her in a way that she approves of. 

The Blue Men of the Minch

The Outer Hebrides, also known as the Western Isle of Scotland, are islands separated from the mainland by waters of the Minch and the Little Minch. Here you will find a curious legend of the Blue Men of the Minch.

Tales dictate that the mythical Blue Men have made the Minch their home. They are said to share the appearance of humankind, albeit with glistening blue skin. Swimming through the seas and sleeping in underwater caves, they conjure up ferocious storms at their leisure.

It is said that if a ship comes into contact with the Blue Men, the Chief of their kind will appear aboard the vessel. The Chief will recite the first two lines of an ancient poem. The master of the ship must then complete the poem, otherwise, the Blue Men will capsize the ship and murder all those inside. 

Loch Ness Monster

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The most famous of all Scottish mythology has got to be the legend of the Loch Ness Monster. With the first sightings dating back as far back as ancient times, the mythical creature has reared its head from the depths of Loch Ness Lake throughout history.

Loch Ness, fondly known as Nessie to the locals, is portrayed in stone carvings by the Pict as a large beast with a long neck and flippers. Knowledge of the monster became widespread in 1934, where a reported sighting and photographic evidence supported the infamous tale.

There are not many reports of attacks from the Loch Ness monster, however, there are numerous hunters desperate to uncover the truth of this mythical folklore. In fact, several sonar explorations have taken place to explore the murky depths in the hopes of finding Nessie.

Final thoughts

These tales of creatures and figures in Scottish mythology will certainly send a tingle down your spine!

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