On 8th November 1576, at the High Court in Edinburgh, Bessie Dunlop, an Ayrshire woman, was accused of ‘sorcery, witchcraft, and incantation, with invocation of spirits of the devil, continuing in familiarity with them at all such times as she thought expedient, dealing with charms, and jinxing the people with devilish craft of sorcery aforesaid’. But like so many people accused of witchcraft at the time of the trials, Bessie was just an ordinary woman who had never caused harm to anyone.
In the land of the west, the Knight of Grianaig lived with his wife and his three daughters. The three maidens were very beautiful and full of goodness and they were dearly loved by the people, so there was much sorrowing when one day they were swept into the sea by a great beast. No one knew their fate, or how to find them, and their poor father and mother mourned endlessly.
The Ghillie Dhu is a dark-haired tree sprite that lives in woods or thickets, with a preference for birch. Scotland’s forests were once heavily populated by these fairies, but they are now rare and confined to the are surrounding Loch Gairloch. They are shy creatures and dress in foliage and mosses to camouflage themselves from the human eye, though they do love the company of children, as evidenced in the story of Jessie Macrae and the Ghillie Dhu.
From the late 1800s, climbers have been reporting encounters with Am Fear Liath Mor, a tall Yeti-esque monster that stalks those descending from the summit of Ben Macdui, the highest mountain in the Cairngorms and the second highest mountain in Scotland.
At the 1925 meeting of the Cairngorm Club, respected mountaineer and scientist John Norman Collie spoke of an experience he’d had on Ben Macdui in 1890, one that had scared him so thoroughly that he hadn’t spoken of it for thirty-five years.
The Each-Uisge is a Scottish water spirit, thought to be the most vicious of all the water-dwelling creatures in Scotland. Its name literally means water horse, and it can be found in Scotland’s sea inlets and lochs, unlike the Kelpie that inhabits rivers and streams. It’s described as being much larger than an ordinary horse, with wide, staring eyes, webbed feet, and a slimy black coat, tinged with green, and it can take on the form of a regular horse, or a man.
Back in the days when the world was young and men and animals spoke the same language, there was a king and a queen, and they lived happily together and had a much-beloved son, Brian, but the queen fell ill and passed away, and so the king devoted himself to his boy and brought him up to be wise in all the ways of the world.
The Caoineag (KHOO-nyak) is a Scottish spirit similar to the Irish banshee. Her name derives from the Gaelic caoin, meaning weep, and caoidh, meaning mourn. She is one of the Fuath, the malevolent spirits or fairies that inhabit Scotland’s waters.