Kelpie

water Horse of Scotland.

Etymology: From the Gaelic colpach ("colt"). Variant names: Kelpy, Water kelpie. Physical description: Like a young, black horse. Wild, staring eyes.

Behavior: Mischievous or malevolent. Howls and wails before a storm. Can change its shape into that of a rough, shaggy man. Lures women and youths into the water to drown them. Causes its home lake to swell and flood. Wears a magic bridle. Said to tear humans to pieces and devour them occasionally.

Habitat: Rivers and lakes, especially fast-moving streams.

Distribution: Scotland.

Artist's conception of a KELPIE, a Scottish water horse. (Fortean Picture Library)

Sources: William Grant Stewart, Popular Superstitions and Festive Amusements of the Highlanders ofScotland (Edinburgh: A. Constable, 1823); James M. Mackinlay, Folklore ofScottish Lochs and Springs (Glasgow: William Hodge, 1893), pp. 164-166, 171-187; Helen Drever, The Lure of the Kelpie (Edinburgh: Moray, 1937); Gwen Benwell and Arthur Waugh, Sea Enchantress (London: Hutchinson, 1961), pp. 174-176; Katharine M. Briggs, A Dictionary of Fairies (London: Allen Lane, 1976), p. 246.

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