Scottish Folktales That Will Terrify you!

Maddie MacKenna

The Scottish Highlands. Image Source: Starz


Hello, my wonderful readers!

Folktales are usually stories that have originated in popular culture, and are spread by word of mouth. They are known to instill terror, awe, and hope in the hearts of the people. From the classic renditions of Disney to the tales our grandmothers used to say, these stories have traveled far and through centuries, with each generation adding more to the story. 

Scottish folktales, specifically, can be truly terrifying! 

Here are some tales from Scottish folklore that are quite interesting! Disclaimer: don’t read them when you’re alone at night 😉


The Stoor Worm

The Stoor Worm was a gigantic evil sea serpent (much like a dragon!), well-known in Orcadian folklore. It was said to terrorize whole villages with its horrid breath! Ew! 

Legend has it, every Saturday at sunrise, the Stoor Worm would wake up, and yawn nine times. It demanded as a meal, seven (!) virgin maidens, and for that, a humorous saying was written: “although he was a venomous beast, he had a dainty taste!”

The King of the area the Stoor Worm was terrorizing had had enough of that, and sought out the wisdom of the Magician of the village. The Magician said that the next sacrifice should be the Princess herself, to appease the beast and make him leave. Afraid for his daughter’s safety, he put an offer. He offered his kingdom, his daughter’s hand and a magic sword (which was said to have been given as a gift from Odin himself!),  to whoever killed the beast.

Sickersnapper, a gift from Odin.

To save the beautiful and kind Princess, Assipattle, the youngest son of a farmer, went on a quest to kill the Stoor Worm. Arriving there just before sunrise, he was able to kill the beast and stop this terror! (What a hero…am I right, ladies?)

The Stoor Worm, Image Source:

It is said that the monster’s teeth fell out in the ocean and became the islands of Orkney, Shetland, and Faroe, and its body became Iceland. Isn’t that amazing? 


The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay

The Phantom Piper, Dumfries & Galloway


Who doesn’t know of Scotland’s most famous musical instrument? Of course, I am talking about bagpipes! And this is the story about a piper, who is said to still play his pipes if you sit still and listen…

In an era before our very own, it was said that fairies used to live in tunnels, and that’s why they created dark tunnels that spanned from the Cove of Grennan to Clanyard Bay. No one dared to go inside! However, one day, a brave piper decided to enter these tunnels, along with his beautiful brown dog. 

He played his bagpipes for hours until he suddenly ceased. His dog came running out from the tunnels, howling and having lost all its fur! The piper was never seen again…

If you ever pass by Clanyard Bay, even though the tunnels don’t exist anymore, you might still hear the faint sound of pipes from the musician who never stopped playing…


The Kelpies

Kelpies, Image Source:


A kelpie is a mythical water spirit, known to hunt in the lochs and rivers of Scotland. It was said that it usually took the form of a horse, but was also able to adapt to human form, retaining, however, his hooves; this gave off a resemblance to Satan himself!

Kelpies would appear to lonely humans as a gray or white pony, just a simple horse! Their significant characteristic, however, was their constantly dripping mane. Others say that what distinguished a kelpie from a normal horse was its hooves, which were reversed! They would take people on their back, and ride with them down a watery grave! Brr…

A Kelpie, Image Source: Pinterest


One specific tale regarding the Kelpies talked of the Laird of Morphie, who managed to capture a kelpie by using a halter stamped with the sign of the cross. Then, he used the kelpie to help him build his castle, and when it was ready, he released it. 

Of course, the kelpie wasn’t happy about it and cursed the Laird. According to the myth, the curse rhymed like this: 

“Sair back and sair banes/ Drivin’ the Laird o’ Morphies’s stanes / The Laird o’ Morphie’ll never thrive/ As lang’s the kelpy is alive”. 

It is believed that this resulted in the extinction of the Laird’s family. Let’s make sure to never mess with a Kelpie! 😉

It’s my time to say goodbye…

Did you like my tales, dear lassie? Which one did you like best?

Do you know any more Scottish folktales? Let me know in the comments! 

Love and kind regards,

Written by Maddie MacKenna

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