Dedicated to the study of Fairy Tales and Fairies.

Fairy Tales Home

Norse-Franco-German Fairy Tales
Norse Franco German Fairies
Gernan Fairy Tales
Swedish Fairy Tales
Norwegian Fairy Tales

French Fairy Tales
& More tales

Celtic Fairy Tales
Celtic Fairies
Welsh Fairy Tales
Irish Fairy Tales
& More Tales

Fairy Blog
Fairy Songs
Origins of Europes Fairies
& More Fairy Articles

Finno-Baltic-Siberian Fairy Tales
Finno-Baltic-Siberian Fairies
Finnish Mythology
Estonian Mythology
Mari-el Fairy Tales
& More Tales

Greco-Roman Mythology
Greco-Roman Fairies
Greek Fairy Tales
Roman Mythology

Slavic Mythology
Slavic Fairies
Russian Fairy Tales
Polish Fairy Tales
& More Tales

Tales of Other Lands
Fairies of Other Lands
Japanese Fairy Tales
Chinese Folktales
& More Tales

Fairy Tales for Kids
Children's Dutch Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

Fairy Tale Stories      Children's Fairy Tales      Fairies       Faery Woodlands Magazine      Blog     About
Fairy List


Scotland has also its water-spirit, called Kelpie, who in some respects corresponds with the Neck of the northern nations. "Every lake," says Graham, "has its Kelpie, or Water-horse, often seen by the shepherd, as he sat in a summer's evening upon the brow of a rock, dashing along the surface of the deep, or browsing on the pasture-ground upon its verge. Often did this malignant genius of the waters allure women and children to his subaqueous haunts, there to be immediately devoured. Often did he also swell the torrent or lake beyond its usual limits, to overwhelm the hapless traveller in the flood."


Mr. Rowlands, the ex-bailiff of Peniarth, who is about seventy-five. I was moreover much interested to discover at ILanegryn a scrap of kelpie story, which runs as follows, concerning ILyn Gwernen, situated close to the old road between Dolgettey and ILanegryn : —
As a man from the village of ILanegryn was returning in the dusk of the evening across the mountain from Dolgettey, he heard, whenhard by ILyn Gwernen, a voice crying out from the water : —
Daeth yr awr ond ni dtaeth y dyn ! The hour is come but the man is not !
As the villager went on his way a little distance, what should meet him but a man of insane appearance, and with nothing on but his shirt. As he saw the man making full pelt for the waters of the lake, he rushed at him to prevent him from proceeding any further. But as to the sequel there is some doubt : one version makes the villager conduct the man back about a mile from the lake to a farm house called Dyffrydan, which was on the former's way home. Others seem to think that the man in his shirt rushed irresistibly into the lake, and this I have no doubt comes nearer the end of the story in its original form. Lately I have heard a part of a similar story about ILyn Cynnwch, which has already been mentioned, above. My informant is Miss Lucy Griffith, of Glynmalden, near Dolgettey, a lady deeply interested in Welsh folklore and Welsh antiquities generally. She obtained her information from a Dolgettey ostler, formerly engaged at the Ship
Hotel, to the effect that on Gwyl Galan, ' the eve of New Year's Day,' a person is seen walking backwards and forwards on the strand of Cynnwch Lake, crying out : — Mae'r awr wedi dyfod cir dyn heb dyfodt .... The hour is come while the man is not !

In the moorlands between Trossachs and Aberfoyle, a region made famous by Scott’s Rob Roy, I have seen atmospheric changes so sudden and so contrasted as to appear marvellous. What shifting of vapours and clouds, what flashes of bright sun-gleams, then twilight at midday! Across the landscape, shadows of black dense fog-banks rush like shadows of flocks of great birds which darken all the earth. Palpitating fog-banks wrap themselves around the mountain-tops and then come down like living things to move across the valleys, sometimes only a few yards above the traveller’s head. And in that country live terrible water-kelpies. When black clouds discharge their watery burden it is in wind-driven vertical water-sheets through which the world appears as through an ice-filmed window-pane. Perhaps in a single day there may be the bluest of heavens and [Pg 4]the clearest air, the densest clouds and the darkest shadows, the calm of the morning and the wind of the tempest. At night in Aberfoyle after such a day, I witnessed a clear sunset and a fair evening sky; in the morning when I arose, the lowlands along the river were inundated and a thousand cascades, large and small, were leaping down the mountain-highlands, and rain was falling in heavy masses. Within an hour afterwards, as I travelled on towards Stirling, the rain and wind ceased, and there settled down over all the land cloud-masses so inky-black that they seemed like the fancies of some horrible dream. Then like massed armies they began to move to their mountain-strongholds, and stood there; while from the east came perfect weather and a flood of brilliant sunshine.
And in the Highlands from Stirling to Inverness what magic, what changing colours and shadows there were on the age-worn treeless hills, and in the valleys with their clear, pure streams receiving tribute from unnumbered little rills and springs, some dropping water drop by drop as though it were fairy-distilled; and everywhere the heather giving to the mountain-landscape a hue of rich purplish-brown, and to the air an odour of aromatic fragrance.


" It is reported that a horse used to frequent the road near Loch Ness, till a stout, brave Highlander, meeting the monster one night, drew his sword in the name of the Trinity, and finished the supposed kelpie forever. Hugh Miller relates some very weird stories about the uncanny doings of a sea-horse or water- wraith that frequented the waters of the River Conon, Ross-shire. The Black Glen kelpie very early one morning was seen near the source of the river, making very unusual sounds. After a little while it left the waters of the river
altogether; and at last, with fearful bellowings, it ran in the direction of Loch Uisge and Kingair-  loch, and has neither been seen nor heard of any more to this day.
" This glen also used to be much frequented by
wild boars and wolves. Owing to its evil reputa-
tion in this respect, people were afraid to pass
through the glen."
For the water-bull in the Isle of Man, see Moore's Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man (p. 59). And for Scotland, the Rev. J. G. Campbell's Superstitions.


In many districts we are told of " the lurking place of the water-horse, which, under the form of a handsome youth, won and kept a maiden's heart until, by chance, she found him asleep on the hillock where they were wont to meet, and on bending over him noticed a bunch of rushes in his hair. Then she knew with what she had to deal, and fled in terror to her father's house, reaching it just in time to bar the door in the kelpie's face, whose voice she heard crying :
Ann an la 's bliadhna,
Mo bhean thig mi dh' iarraidh
In a day and a year,
I'll come seeking my dear.
So she was warned never to go near the hillock
again ; her parents found her a more eligible suitor ;
and all went well till her wedding day, when on
leaving the church after the ceremony was over,
a big black horse came suddenly upon them, seized
the bridle and galloped off with her. Since that
time no one has ever seen the horse or its burden,
unless, indeed, at the fall of night, some passer-by
catches a glimpse of a white face rising out of
the water, and hears a low sweet voice croon the 
love song she was singing when first she saw her
kelpie lover."

I give two accounts which I have from the late Rev. Allan Macdonald of Eriskay. They indicate how universal this folk-belief was in the Highlands : " Water-horse. — There was a young woman in Barra who met a handsome looking man on the hill. They chatted together, and at last he laid his head on her lap. She noticed when he slept that his hair was mixed with ' rafagach an locha,' a weed that grows in lakes, and she became suspicious that her friend was the water-horse in disguise. She cut off the part of her clothes on which his head
rested, and slipped away without wakening him. A considerable time after, on a Sunday after Mass, a number of people were sitting on the hill and she along with them. She noticed the stranger whom she had met on the hill approaching, and she got up to go home so as to avoid him. He made up to her, notwithstanding, and caught her, and hurried off and plunged with her into the lake, and not a trace of her was ever found but a little bit of one of her lungs on the shore of the lake. — Anne M'lntyre." " In the island of Mingulay a young woman had a similar adventure, only in her case the stranger appeared often to her, and they became at last so fond of each other that they agreed to marry at the end of a year and a day, and till then the stranger was not to be seen by her. The girl went home, and as the year was drawing to an end, she was observed to be fast sinking in health and losing her good colour, yet she would not say  what it was that made her fall away so. Her father at last extorted an unwilling confession of the truth from her, and word was given to the islanders as
to what was causing the girl such trouble. She was very beautiful and a great favourite, and when the people heard what was to happen to her, they made up their minds that they would allow no harm befall her. When the day came all the men of the place were armed with clubs, and the young woman was put sitting on the wall of the house, — the young men forming a guard round the house. All were in a
state of expectancy when the stranger was seen appearing above the great cliff of Mingulay and coming down swiftly towards the village. One of the islanders stepped forward to meet the stranger and asked him his errand. ' Such as it is/ said the stranger, * you are not the man to stand in my way, strong though you be, and you may as well not detain me.' He went forward and reached the guard round the house, and, in the twinkling of an eye, seized the young woman by the hand, and, before the guard had made up their minds to pursue him and rescue the girl, he had so far retraced his way with his prize. The islanders started in pursuit, but in vain. They saw him and the woman disappear at a certain well, and when they reached this the well was full of blood and of shreds of her garments. The well is still called ' Tobar na Fala' = the well of blood. — Calum Dhomhnuill