ne of the more obscure creatures of Scottish folklore is the Yird Swine, a subterranean porcine carnivore that lives in graveyards and burrows through the earth, feeding on corpses. G.W. Anderson noted in his 1891 work, Lays of Strathbogie, that the Yird Swine’s teeth could be heard crunching on coffins by those who were unfortunate enough to pass within earshot of the kirkyard it inhabited. Sightings of the creature seem to be confined to Aberdeenshire, and it’s been suggested that it originates from the old Walla Kirkyard there.
A Mr Archibald, in a letter written in 1917 and now held by the archives of the Natural Museums of Scotland, recalled his father finding a Yird Swine when he turned up its nest while ploughing the land beside the river in Deveron fifty years previously.
“He tried to kill it with his foot, but it bit and cut his boot, and he killed it with a tree branch and brought it home. It was brown in colour, somewhat like a rat. Their nests were from time to time turned up by the plough, but the animals themselves were very rarely seen, reputed to frequent the churchyards. This was in the immediate neighbourhood of a churchyard which was eventually disused owing to the firm belief that it was infested. They invariably lived in the immediate neighbourhood of water, and their nests were in haughs.”
In 1915, a Yird Swine was killed by a ploughman in the parish churchyard in Mastrick, Aberdeenshire. It was said to have mole-like feet, white tusks, and a prominent snout.
Some unimaginative souls have suggested that Yird Swines are badgers, or even just big rats, but those who have had direct contact with the creatures would certainly swear otherwise.