The Yird Swine

Yird Swine DCne 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. 

Yird Swine

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. 

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  • Sara C. Snider

    Well, as a fan of pigs, I say if you’re going to have a haunted churchyard, then best to have it be porcine in nature. Creepy that they have “nests” though. It sounds gross, for some reason. I’d prefer warren or den. ;)

  • Anabel Marsh

    Hmm, not heard of this one! Your tales are educating me.

  • LeAnne

    Oh my goodness…..scarier and scarier! I had to look up what a “haugh” was though….with what does it rhyme?

    • Fee

      It’s pronounced ‘hoch’, like the Scottish ‘loch’, a gutteral hard k :)

  • Samantha Mozart

    Not many of us could come up with Yird Swine for our “Y” posts, Fee. Very intriguing. I walk past a church yard, an old graveyard, when I walk to the store — a tree shaded, peaceful place. Keep your yird swines in Scotland, please. :-)
    Samantha Mozart

  • Pat Garcia

    Very interesting. I have never seen a Yird Swine. The next time I come to Scotland, I will have to ask about the Yird Swine as well as visit the Natural Archives of Scotland.
    We have a wild pig here in Germany. I have forgotten the name but it hides out in the woods and the Germans have a special name for it. I must inquire more about it. Maybe it could be a relative of your Yird Swine.

  • JazzFeathers

    Never heard of this creature before. It sounds kind of creepy…

  • Kern Windwraith

    The stuff of nightmares there. Yikes. I love a solitary walk through a graveyard–will have to keep my eyes peeled now for Yird Swine!