Scottish Mythology & Mystical Places In Scotland Worth Knowing
Consider a time before scientific reasoning could explain Scotland’s unpredictable weather. Not to mention the bizarre land formations, ancient stone circles, and otherworldly scenery.
You’ll begin to understand how Scottish mythology came to be. Together with the Scots’ well-known storytelling ability, these Celtic myths and legends have been passed down through generations and are still available for visitors to experience today.
To tour Scotland and its fairy-tale landscapes is to believe in the supernatural. Here are a few examples of mythical creatures you might hear about – or possibly encounter – in Scotland’s most mystical locations.
1. Unicorns – Scottish Mythology
Unicorns are having a moment right now. However, if you look beyond the novelty shops, you’ll see that it’s more than just a child’s toy or a whimsical fancy-dress costume. In fact, the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal. If it can be called an animal.
Unicorns have been depicted in writing since the time of the ancient Babylonians and Celts. The unicorn became associated with nobility and power in Scotland by the 12th century. It eventually became a symbol of Scotland’s free-spirited spirit as well as its hauntingly beautiful, wild nature.
The unicorn is depicted in gold chains on the royal coats of arms of Scotland and the United Kingdom. One interpretation is that the Scottish kings were so powerful that they could control the most powerful beast of all.
When you consider Scotland’s magnificent landscapes and turbulent history, there is no better creature to represent this wild land and its people.
Where in Scotland can you find unicorns?
This mist-shrouded, mountainous island is where a unicorn would prance. Skye is without a doubt one of Scotland’s most magical destinations.
Castle Of Eilean Donan
Visit Eilean Donan Castle, built in the 13th century on an island between two lochs. Try not to imagine a magnificent white steed galloping down the stony bridge. You simply cannot.
The Highlands Of Northern Scotland
Unicorns are far from the only magical creatures in this wild land. You’ll see if you take the North Coast 500 route.
Look for the unicorn figure at historic sites in Edinburgh, such as Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle.
2. The Kelpies
Do you know what a “kelpie” is? Kelpies are shape-shifting, horse-like water spirits with the strength of 100 horses in Scottish folklore. They might be lurking near Scotland’s lochs and rivers. But be cautious. Kelpies, unlike unicorns, have a dark and dangerous nature.
A kelpie might trick you into riding on its back down by the water. But watch out for this water horse’s dripping wet mane. This treacherous mythological figure whisks anyone who falls for its cries away into the watery depths.
In Scotland, where can you find kelpies?
Loch Coruisk, a freshwater loch at the foot of the Black Cuillin range on the Isle of Skye, is said to be the home of these supernatural creatures.
Over the years, this lake has inspired many Scottish writers and painters. Today, you can even go kelpie hunting on a 45-minute boat tour from the village of Elgol.
The Kelpies, two massive steel horse head statues near Falkirk, are a must-see for great photo opportunities.
These are the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures, standing nearly 100 feet (30 meters) above the Forth & Clyde Canal. The Kelpies are located in the park at The Helix, but you can see them while driving along the M9 motorway.
3. Count Nessie
You may have heard of the fabled Loch Ness Monster. Nessie, the “water beast,” was first recorded in the 5th century by an Irish monk named St Columba, but only came to public attention in 1933.
A Scottish newspaper reported that year that a visitor from London had spotted a prehistoric, dragon-like creature bobbing in Loch Ness. A few months later, the first photograph purporting to show Nessie was released.
While many dismiss the legend, consider that Loch Ness is Scotland’s second deepest body of water. It has more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined, so it appears to have enough room for a giant monster.
Could Nessie have descended from a dinosaur species? Visit the lakeside exhibition centre, whose Loch Ness Project delves into this famous monster mythology.
Where could you possibly find Nessie in Scotland?
The Loch Ness
If this enormous water beast exists, it can only be found in Loch Ness! Discover this mystical loch in the Scottish Highlands, southwest of Inverness.
If you’ve seen the TV show Outlander, you’ll know that the Highlanders had a lot of superstitions about fairies.
These “faeries” or “little people” come in various forms and temperaments, according to Scottish folklore. They can be friendly to you or vicious if you do not respect their wishes.
If you are kind to the Sidhe fairies, you may be blessed with good fortune. However, avoid going into the deep, dark woods at night. Otherwise, you may be punished by the Ghillie Dhu, which translates as “dark-haired lad” in Scottish Gaelic. If you encroach on his forest home, he will be furious.
In Scotland, where can you find fairies?
The Fairy Glen
Wander the mythical valley of the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye, and you might come across some Sidhe faeries.
Pools For Fairies
On the Isle of Skye, another location associated with “the little people” is the Fairy Pools. They can be found in Glenbrittle, in the shadow of the Black Cuillin mountains.
5. The Selkies
If you visit Scotland’s northern coasts and islands, you might be lucky enough to see a seal swimming in the sea. But don’t get too close because legend has it that these are shape-shifting creatures with incredible seductive powers.
Selkies are mythical beings who, when on dry land, transform from seals to humans. They are most commonly seen around the islands of Orkney and Shetland. They are said to be stunningly beautiful and will entice you to fall hopelessly in love with them.
Keep your distance, or you may find yourself heartbroken when you leave Scotland!
In Scotland, where can you find selkies?
The Orkney Islands
Take the ferry to the Orkney Isles and keep an eye out for seals and selkies splashing around in the water.
Islands Of Shetland
You could continue your journey by heading north to the Shetland Islands. According to legend, selkies also live here.
6. Blue men of the Minch
Selkies aren’t the only supernatural creatures that lurk beneath the waves. Discover the legend of the blue-skinned men on the beautiful Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. According to legend, these blue men of the Minch enjoy causing a ruckus – literally.
Winter storms would have been terrifying for sailors attempting to make the crossing between the Scottish mainland and the Isle of Lewis in the past. Locals feared that the blue men, also known as storm kelpies, would use this to bring sailors and boats down with them.
In Scotland, where can you find the blue men?
Thankfully, thanks to the CalMac ferry crossing, traveling to the Isle of Lewis is now safe. When you arrive, you’ll be rewarded with some of Scotland’s (and the UK’s) most beautiful beaches, as well as a famous Neolithic site: the Calanais Standing Stones.
This stone circle, too, is shrouded in legend. The large stones are said to be the punishment for giants who refused to convert to Christianity.
With its hauntingly beautiful cemeteries and ancient castle ruins, Scotland will give you goosebumps almost everywhere. If you enjoy ghost stories, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. In Scotland, you’ll hear many stories about spectres and ghouls.
The Green Woman
Learn about the Green Lady at Crathes Castle, located between Aberdeen and the Cairngorms National Park. As you walk through this 16th-century castle, you might notice her ghostly form cradling an infant child.
My Name Is Bluidy Mackenzie.
See if you can spot any spectres while strolling through Edinburgh’s Old Town after dark. Navigate the medieval streets and enter Greyfriars Kirkyard, which is said to be haunted by Sir George Mackenzie’s ghost.
Did you know Edinburgh has a subterranean world as well? The South Bridge Vaults are a network of chambers and alleyways that have been sealed off for centuries.
Today, you can explore this “Underground City” and learn about its eerie history. If you feel a tug on your clothes, it’s Wee Annie, the ghost of a girl who wanders aimlessly in the dark.
The Headless Drummer
Edinburgh has even more ghost stories for you. Many phantom spirits are thought to be trapped in Edinburgh Castle, including the Headless Drummer.
As you walk through the ancient walls of this iconic castle, keep an ear out for the sound of distant drumming. That’s the drummer boy alerting you to his presence. Many believe he has been haunting this fortress since the English general and statesman Oliver Cromwell invaded it in 1650.
Whether you believe in Scottish myths or not, the landscapes and historical sites of Scotland are breathtaking. On a trip tailored to your interests, you could delve deeper into Scottish mythology. Explore on a small group tour, with a private guide, or on your own.
Topic: Scottish Mythology & Mystical Places In Scotland Worth Knowing
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By: Travel Pixy