Now we all know that Scotland is a very popular holiday destination especially for visitors from far-flung destinations such as the USA, Japan and China. There is a fascination about Scotland for visitors, and a lot of this is based around the myths and legends that emanate from this rich and vibrant country. Scotland is a country that has great areas of natural beauty that include rugged coastlines, secluded beaches, islands and mountains.
When you add this to its rich history there is absolutely no surprise that the country has been the inspiration for the artistic community. As a result there are numerous tales of mythical creatures that may or may not have inhabited this great country over the centuries. Now while some may have gained worldwide notoriety there are others that may not be quite as well known. So, if you are looking for an alternative way to spend your holiday North of the Border why not search out some of these legendary creatures. If you are visiting from abroad why not take advantage of the reasonably priced car hire at Edinburgh Airport and do some exploring. To start you on your way here are 5 mythical creatures you can go and search out during your visit.
Source: Flickr | Steve Pike
The Loch Ness Monster
Undoubtedly one of the world’s premier unsolved mysteries is that of the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie as it is commonly referred to is alleged to reside in the dark cold waters of Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. Nessie is thought to have a long neck and a number of humps on its back. Reputedly first sighted around 1500 years ago when a giant creature was reported to have leapt out of a lake near Inverness and eaten a local farmer, as a result the legend of the Loch Ness Monster was born. In the 1930s a doctor from London took a photograph that appeared to show a pre-historic type creature emerging from the loch.
Since then there have been numerous reported sightings. This prompted the BBC to sponsor a search using new technology such as satellite tracking and sonar to try and track down Nessie. However, their search proved fruitless which resulted in Scientists declaring that the Loch Ness Monster was just a myth. Irrespective of whether there is a monster in there or not all the speculation has made Loch Ness one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations attracting thousands of visitors every year all of who live in hope of seeing the world-famous mythical being.
Not as infamous as the Loch Ness Monster Selkies are still an integral part of Scottish Folklore. A mythical creature that can transform itself from Seal to human form and back again. The legend appears to have originated in the Orkney and Shetland Isles where Selkie is the term for ‘seal’. The tale is that a man found a beautiful Selkie sunbathing stole her skin and forced her to marry him and have his children. Many years later she found her skin and returned to the sea never to return. Other stories claim that Selkies lure lovestruck islanders into the sea during the height of summer, and they are never seen again.
The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay
If there is one musical instrument that will forever be associated with Scotland it is the bagpipe. The sound of bagpipes is one that you will hear all over Scotland especially during parades and is one that can be both exhilarating and haunting depending on the circumstances. So, imagine if a ghost piper was playing the pipes. Over the years there have been many stories of phantom pipers in Scottish Folklore, but probably the most well known is the one about the Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay. In olden days there was a dark network of tunnels thought to stretch from the Cove of Grennan to the cliffs overlooking Clanyard Bay, which is located near to Stranraer. These tunnels were thought to be inhabited by fairies and as such the local population stayed well away. That was until one day a piper went into the caves playing his pipes. The music could be heard for hours until it suddenly stopped, and the piper’s dog emerged from the caves minus its hair, the piper himself never reappeared. Even though the caves are no longer there have been reports of passers-by hearing the sound of bagpipes coming from beneath the ground on summer evenings. Now, it could just be the sound of the wind whistling through the ancient cave network, their mind just playing tricks, or it really is the ghost of the piper forlornly playing his pipes.
The Gorbals Vampire
During the 1950s the younger inhabitants of the Gorbals area of Glasgow were living in fear. This was because there were stories circulating about the fate of a number of missing children in the area. These children were said to have been killed by a seven-foot vampire with iron teeth. When adults dismissed this story as nonsense the children of the area decided to take matters into their own hands and descend on the scary Necropolis Cemetery in their hundreds. Even the arrival of the local constabulary couldn’t force the children to return home. There were thought to be two possible causes of the mass hysteria one being the “Legend of Jenny wi the Iron Teeth” a ghostly figure rumoured to haunt Glasgow Green. The other was an American Comic Book on sale at the time called Vampire with the Iron Teeth. After it was featured in the local papers the story gained worldwide attention and local churchgoers and the NUT placed the blame firmly at the feet of Imported American Horror Comics. The incident has been retold in a stage play and a novel while there is a large mural of the so-called Gorbals Vampire adorning a local railway arch.
Kelpie is the name that was given to a Supernatural water horse rumoured to lurk in the Lochs and remote rivers of Scotland. It was said to appear in horse form but with the ability to adopt human persona, however some people were convinced that the kelpie retained its hooves when appearing in human form. As a result it became associated with the Christian version of Satan. It is thought that when stalking its victims the Kelpie would appear as a dark grey or white pony with the aim of getting them to ride on its back. Once aboard the unsuspecting person would be taken down to a watery grave. There is now a Statue of two kelpies located in Falkirk that tower 30 metres above the Forth and Clyde Canal and are a monument to horse powered heritage throughout central Scotland.
The ones listed above are just some of the many myths and legends that are associated with Scotland. There are many more, so why not spend some time travelling around the country finding out about them?