The Kelpie's Pearls

A Live Publishing Project by Edinburgh Napier University MSc Publishing students

Scottish Mythological Creatures


Imagine you have spent the day wandering the countryside. You are tired and want a rest. You see a beautiful black horse by the river and think it would be wonderful to ride the rest of the way, so you approach the animal. But be careful, it might be a kelpie!

The kelpie is a mythological shape-shifting horse that lives in the lochs of Scotland and can also appear in human form.

In different stories, the kelpie is described as black, grey or green with seal-like skin. They cannot completely escape the water so are often said to have seaweed in their hair. Using their magical powers over water, kelpies can cause streams and lochs to flood and overwhelm passers-by.
The kelpie is said to lure humans into the water to kill and eat them. It does this by encouraging children to ride on its back, and then its back becomes sticky so that the children can’t fall off. The kelpie then drags them into water.
Famous kelpie tale is the story of the nine children lured onto the kelpie’s back and the tenth who refused to join them. The kelpie chased him but he managed to escape.


Brownies are helpful household sprites similar to elves, which are found in both Scottish and English folklore.
They look like tiny humans with wrinkled faces and curly hair and usually wear brown clothing and a pointed hood or hat.
Brownies are very hardworking, but they are shy and only come out at night to do their work, which includes cleaning the house and churning butter. The only fault of the Brownies is that they are very easily insulted, and if you crtiticise their work they will likely mess up the house then leave and never come back.
In the past the owner of the house would keep the Brownies happy by leaving them a bowl of milk or cream to thank them for their hard work.


The Selkie is a legendary creature from Irish, Scottish and Icelandic folklore.
They are seals that can transform into humans (usually women) by removing their seal skin. To turn back into a seal, they put their skins back on.
Common tale of the selkie is that of a lonely fishermen who steals the skin of the selkie in her human form to force her to come home and become his wife. The selkie would search for her skin all her life as she could not return to the sea without it and when she found it, she returned to the water, leaving the man heartbroken.


Trows come from the Shetland and Orkney Islands and are believed to be cousins of the Troll.
Trows are very odd looking. They are described as misshapen faeries without legs and move around by hopping and bouncing on their bottoms.
Trows live underground and only come out at night, because if they get caught in the sunlight they freeze in place until the sun has gone down.
Trows are said to swap changelings for human children, and their favourite game is stealing and hiding humans’ personal possessions.
Other names for the Trow are Nightstealers and Creepers.


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