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Red Caps, Dunters & Powries


The Red Cap is one of the most dangerous supernatural creatures said to haunt the castles and watchtowers of the border regions.

In appearance they are short and wiry, with ragged pointed teeth and sharp claws like steel. They wear a red bonnet on their heads, and are generally bearded with wrinkled aged faces.

Red Cap: by D ParkinsonRed Cap: by D ParkinsonThe Red Caps are murderous, and kill by rolling boulders or tearing at people with their sharp claws. They then proceed to drink the blood of their victims and dip their hats in the blood, giving rise to the name of Red Caps.

In particular they haunt castles with a reputation for evil events in the past. In the folklore and legend of Hermitage Castle in Roxburghshire, Bad Lord Soulis, a man with an evil reputation is said to have had a named Red Cap as a familiar.

Dunters & Powries are virtually indistinguishable from the Red Caps, as are the Dunters, who haunt castles with the constant sound of beating flax.

It has been suggested that these spirits are the memories of foundation sacrifices, a custom that was practised within written history; see Church Grim.

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Daniel Parkinson
SJMcKenzie
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Redcap / Origin of Church Grim theory

Hi,

I am in the process of writing a short story called The Red Cap of Nine Stane Rigg about the Redcap and its relationship with Hermitage Castle and "Bad" de Soulis.

Two posts are up on my site about this, here and here.

The first concerns Robin Redcap, and the other concerns whether he is a Scots translation of the Far Darrig or Red Man. (Basically I argue that he is not, except in a very general sense.)

My question to Daniel (or anyone else who can answer it) is where the idea about Church / Kirk Grims comes from. Who suggested that the Redcap is a type of church grim? To me he seems associated with outlaw / trickster types such as Robin Hood, or Puck. A source to the suggestion would be much appreciated.

Steve
http://celtlore.wordpress.com

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Daniel Parkinson
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Redcap / Origin of Church Grim theory

Steve

I will see if I can find the source for this theory, it has been a few years since I wrote it - probably about 8 if I was counting.
It was probably tagged to the end of this article as suggestion, rather than a definate belief that this is a source for the redcap.

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Daniel Parkinson
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Red Cap Source

Steve

Managed to track down a source for the suggestion (I was beggining to think I made it up) I have just bought a copy of Dictionary of Fairies by Katherine Briggs, it mentions the foundation sacrifice link on page 115 under 'Dunters' she quotes William Henderson's Folklore of the Northern Counties page 255-6 and he is the original source for suggestin that Dunter's and Redcaps were spirits of the original foundation sacrifices.



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