There’s only one thing on our mind throughout the month of October – Halloween! With Halloween just around the corner, there’s no better time to share this list of 6 of the best-known myths and legends of Scotland.
Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster
No legend in the world is as well-known as Scotland’s very own Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. The Loch Ness Monster is one of Scotland’s oldest myths. The origins of the tale can be traced back 1500 years in 565AD when Irish missionary St Columba is thought to have encountered the monster in the River Ness. Other sightings were reported during the 1930s when a correspondent for the Inverness Courier reported seeing a ‘whale-like creature’ in the loch. Since then, Nessie has become an icon of Scotland and has inspired books, TV shows, films and supports a major tourism industry around its home in the Highlands.
The Gorbal’s Vampire
In 1954, Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis came into the spotlight when around 400 schoolchildren stormed the cemetery to search for a vampire, known as the Gorbal’s Vampire, that had apparently killed two local children. The cemetery was so overrun by children, police were called out to move them on, but crowds continued to hunt for the vampire for the next two nights. After the story appeared in the local press, it gained worldwide coverage and has not been forgotten about since. In 2016, a mural featuring the Gorbal’s Vampire was created and can be found in an archway on St Luke’s Place in Glasgow.
A Kelpie is said to be a supernatural, shape-shifting water horse that haunts Scotland’s lochs and lonely rivers. Despite appearing as a beautiful black horse, Kelpies are malevolent creatures who prey on humans nearby. The origin of this legend is thought to have come from the belief that human sacrifices were made to appease the gods and spirits of the waters. However, other stories say that Kelpies protect small children from drowning in lakes. Scotland is home to two huge Kelpies sculptures, the largest equine sculptures in the world. The sculptures are located near Falkirk and have transformed the area into a five-star tourist destination.
Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa bears a history and geology unlike any other cave in the world. Formed entirely from hexagonally joined basalt columns, Fingal’s Cave has a similar structure to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Legend says that the cave was given its name after the publication of a poem about the hero Fingal, a courageous warrior who built the causeway between Scotland and Northern Ireland. The columns of Fingal’s Cave are said to be the remains of the connecting bridge between the two countries.
Robert the Bruce and the Spider
Much like the Loch Ness Monster, the legend of Robert the Bruce and the Spider is known worldwide. According to the tale, Robert the Bruce took refuge in a cave after the English repeatedly defeated his armies. While hiding, he noticed a spider attempt to weave a web. When the spider fell, it climbed back up to try again. It’s thought that Robert the Bruce was inspired by the spider’s struggle and found the strength to return and fight the English, ultimately leading to victory in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
The world’s most mysterious and third-largest whirlpool can be found between the Scottish islands of Jura and Scarba. Several legends surround the whirlpool, but the best-known story says that the whirlpool is named after a Norwegian Prince named Breakan. The Prince allegedly lost his life to the whirlpool whilst trying to prove his love to a Scottish princess whose father ordered that he keep his boat in the whirlpool for three nights. Another legend tells of a local seawitch who conjured the whirlpool to protect Scotland from a nasty Irish pirate. Marine scientists have revealed that the whirlpool is actually caused by a giant rock pinnacle that rises from the ocean bed. Water is forced upwards when it hits the submerged rock, causing huge waves.
Explore Scotland’s mystical sites where local legends tell of fairy-folk or mysterious monsters haunting lochs, or unexplained sightings high on the Scottish hills. Our Mystery and Legends of Scotland package will take you to Scotland’s most atmospheric sites. Contact us today to find out more.