Scottish Myths and Where to Find Them

One of the reasons so many people travel to Scotland is to experience the wealth of history and myths that enchant the mist-covered landscapes and echo around the city streets.

From ghosts to ghouls, from monsters to demons, there are so many fairy-tale-esque stories that have captured imaginations and driven people from around the world to our shores. 

But where exactly do you find these myths?  Below, we’re not only going to look into the most popular Scottish myths, but where you can go to experience them when renting a motorhome in Scotland. 

Kelpies in The Helix

The kelpie is a shape-changing aquatic spirit, deriving from the Scottish Gaelic words ‘cailpeach’ or ‘colpach’. They are said to haunt rivers and streams across the country, taking the shape of a horse to entice humans – especially children – onto their backs. 

Once on their backs, however, the kelpies lead the unwitting traveller into the water and eat them – not too dissimilar to the Sirens of Ancient Greek mythology. 

While we wouldn’t recommend going looking for kelpies, there is a beautiful monument that resides in The Helix, Falkirk. This is a jaw-dropping 30-metre sculpture of two horse heads jutting out from the earth, completed in 2013 and since becoming one of the main tourist attractions in the country. 

Ghosts in Mary King’s Close

Scotland is known for its many ghost stories, and you can be told about them on various tours, including tours of the Culloden Battlefield, Glencoe, Fyvie Castle, and Pollok House.

One of our favourite spots to experience ghosts is in Edinburgh, however, with the tour of Mary King’s Close taking you right down into the Underworld. 

Beneath the Old Town of Edinburgh, there is a buried, maze-like city that used to be one of Edinburgh’s slums in the 1600s. After the plague took hold, people gradually began to leave, with the city partially demolished in the 1700s before being completely emptied and sealed up in the 20th century. 

In 2024, however, tourists have the opportunity to go underground and explore the most haunted spot in all of Scotland. Just watch out for a little girl called ‘Wee Annie’…

Vampires in Southern Necropolis

Another famous Scottish myth is that of the Glasgow vampire, although this actually originated quite recently. It was only in 1954 that two children went missing in Glasgow. 

At the time, a policeman was called to the Southern Necropolis, following a report that the graveyard was full of children carrying knives and stakes. According to these children, the two missing kids had been taken by a seven-foot-tall vampire, which they were now on the hunt for. 

Whether this was a case of mass hysteria or a real-life Scottish vampire remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, the Southern Necropolis itself is now a popular spot for visitors to the city, many of whom are looking to do a little vampire hunting themselves.

The Wulver in Shetland

The Shetland Islands are a glorious location in the northernmost region of Scotland, made famous for its beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife, and gorgeous rolling hills. But speaking of wildlife, it’s not just ponies and puffins that you’ll come across if you visit. 

One of the most popular Scottish myths involves the ‘Wulver’, a wolf-man that is said to live in a cave dug out of a steep knoll. Unlike typical ‘wolf-man’ stories, this isn’t a blood-thirsty beast on the hunt for human flesh. Instead, the wulver is said to be quite partial to a spot of fishing, and is often seen leaving a few fish on the windowsills of those in need. 

Unlike the kelpies, ghosts and vampires of Scotland, there isn’t a definitive place you can go to see the wulver, with sightings reported across the whole of the Shetland Islands – but a visit to Shetland is well worth it, whether you see the Wulver or not!

The Fiddlers in Tomnahurich

Another great place to visit in Scotland is Inverness, home of the infamous Loch Ness Monster. We’ve written a fair few times about this wonderful location, including the history of Loch Ness and what to do when you’re there, so we’ll take some time to talk about another Inverness myth: the fiddlers of Tomnahurich. 

This is a tale about two out-of-work fiddlers who were invited to play for a congregation of people outside Inverness. The congregation itself was in a grand, beautiful hall that had been built into the side of a hill in Tomnahurich. 

Upon returning to Inverness, however, they found they had not been away for a single night, but for 100 years, and they soon crumbled to dust. Now known as the ‘Fairy Hill’, Tomnahurich has since become a popular place to visit for Inverness tourists in 2024, coupled, of course, with that lesser-known location ‘Loch Ness’!