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Creatures of Scottish Folklore

Bean-Nighe

Baobhan Sith
A very dangerous female vampire who haunted the highland regions.

Bean Nighe
The Scottish version of the washer woman at the ford. She always wore green and had webbed feet. She was not always a death portent, and would grant three wishes in certain circumstances.

Baisd Bheulach Read More »

The Ankou

Ankou

The Ankou was a grim harvester of souls from the dark side of Brittany folklore, once believed to ride the dark lanes of Brittany in search of unwary travellers and the benighted.

The Ankou came in many guises, most commonly as a gangling skeletal figure with long white hair and a revolving head so he could look in every direction, his features shaded by a long brimmed hat. Read More »

Black Dogs and Phantom Hounds, Part One: Maryland and Delaware

Legends of black dogs and phantom hounds are widespread throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, which was one of the earliest areas settled by the English. Read More »

The Brahan Seer

Holed stone

The Brahan Seer is undoubtedly the most famous of all Celtic seers although the reality of the 17th Century Coinneach Odhar Fiosaiche or Kenneth Mackenzie is hidden deep in legend. The roots of these legends may have come from a holy man in the 1600’s, about whom legends have grown with the years. Read More »

Canobie Dick

This story relates to a legend common throughout Britain, namely that of a secret cavern containing sleeping warriors. Often a test is conferred to the person who is shown into the cavern. Usually the tests are failed.

Once upon a time in the Borders region there lived a horse cowper (trader) named Canobie Dick, he was widely admired and feared for his fierce courage. Read More »

Charmed Irish Stones

There is a tradition in the North of England and Scotland pertaining to special stones brought over from Ireland that have the ability to heal snake bites on cattle. In Irish Charms in Northern England, Denzil Webb referred to an article by William Morley Egglestone, which appeared in the March 1889 edition of the Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend. Read More »

Crossroad Blues

Gallows

“I went down to the Crossroads, fell down on my knees” Robert Johnson.
When Robert Johnson sang of the Crossroads down in the 1930’s Mississippi Delta, he was paying homage to a tradition that has existed in varied forms for centuries, and at the same time adding his own contribution to the wealth of folklore that exists around the crossing place of two highways. Read More »

Earth Dogs

A mythical creature that may be confined to one area of Banffshire in Scotland, according to Walter Grigor in his ‘Notes on the folklore of NE Scotland’ published in 1881, the Yird Swine were a “dreaded ..animal” that lived in graveyards and burrowed through the earth feeding on the dead bodies. Read More »

The Elder Mother, Elder Tree

In Danish folk belief every Elder Tree is inhabited and protected by a female spirit known as the Hyldemoer, and is revered as a sacred tree. This tradition may have some parallels in Britain, as I heard a similar folk belief when I was growing up in England. I was told that the tree was guarded by a female spirit and it was unlucky to bring the wood into the house. Read More »

The Feytin' Ape

feytin_ape

Here’s a tall tale I collected from a local character when I was researching folklore in Oldham, Lancashire. While the tale is purely fictional it does include some half truths and was ‘doing the rounds’ of the local pubs. Read More »

Medieval Heretics and the Green Man

There is a general acceptance that the Green Man is a representation of a pagan deity, but this is not borne out by the abundance of Green Man carvings to be found on or within Christian churches. Could this contradiction be the clue that will lead to our understanding of this archaic figure? Why do we find the Green Many associated with churches? Read More »

Phantom Black Dogs

bungaydog.gif

Stories of phantom black dogs abound in Britain, almost every county has its own variant, from the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Padfoot and Bogey Beast of Yorkshire. Phantom black dogs have been witnessed too frequently in modern times to parcel the phenomena as pure folklore and legend, but then folklore and legend often has origins in real events. Read More »

Robert Burns and Folklore

Robert Burns

Robert Burns was born on the 25th January 1759 during the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ but also in a time when the country superstitions and supernatural beings were an integral part of folk belief. The landscape of Burns’ was one where the natural rhythms of nature were much more intertwined in the day to day of working life. Read More »

Robert Johnson

The myth of Robert Johnson is an enduring American blues legacy rooted in the hoodoo culture of the Deep South. The basic myth is that Robert sold his sold to the Devil in exchange for his supernatural guitar prowess. (Part of this legend about the Crossroads is examined here). Read More »

Snakes Of The Derwent Valley

James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater

According to local folklore, before 1715 there were no venomous snakes in the Derwent Valley, but after the execution of the Earl of Derwentwater an abundance of adders started to appear along the length of the river Derwent. Read More »

Spring Heeled Jack – The Terror of the Black Country

Out of the dark, supernatural depths of Victorian England one name stands out. Jack.

Not Jack the Ripper, but a more supernatural fiend - Spring Heeled Jack! Read More »

Taliesin the Bard

Taliesin

This is the version translated by Lady Charlotte Guest, and published in 1849 in the collection of old Welsh tales entitled the Mabinogion. Traditionally Taliesin is placed in the time of Arthur, which is generally believed to be in the 6th century AD. Read More »

The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain

These treasures are ancient magical items of Welsh tradition that are mentioned in 15th and 16th Century manuscripts. Most of the treasures are from and in ‘The North’ of the Island of Britain. Read More »

Unbaptized Children

Stillborn babies and infants that had not been baptized could not always be buried on consecrated ground and a wealth of folklore developed around this delicate subject, some of it with a distinct North and South divide. Read More »

Vampire Folklore

Dracula

Vampire folklore within the British Isles is surprisingly scarce, this is mainly due to the fact that the contemporary image of a vampire (a charismatic bloodsucker with a black cape, a mesmerising stare, and a penchant for nubile young women; plus an aversion to holy water, garlic and crosses.) is relatively recent, being the result of Hollywood portrayals of vampires, and the gothic Hammer House Read More »



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