Nykur

Water horse of Northern Europe.

Variant names: Nennir, Nickur, Ninnir, Noggle (Shetlands), Nuckelavee (Scotland), Nuggle (Orkney), Nygel.

Physical description: Gray or black. Head like an ox's. Seal-like flippers or hooves that are reversed. Also appears in human form. As the

Nuckelavee, it appears as a CENTAUR-like combination of a horse with one red eye, a rider with a massive head and transparent skin, and a KELPIE.

Behavior: Aquatic. Either moos or lows like a cow or neighs like a horse. Likes to entice human females underwater.

Distribution: Rivers and lakes of Iceland, as well as off the Icelandic coast; Shetland and Orkney Islands; northern Scotland.

Significant sighting: The inhabitants of Grim-sey, off the north coast of Iceland, refused to keep cows on their island until about 1850 because they claimed there was a Nykur in the sea that drove mad any cow that they tried to bring across from the mainland.

Sources: Johann Anderson, Nachrichten von Island, Gronland und der strasse Davis (Hamburg, Germany: G. C. Grund, 1746), p. 115; Benjamin Thorpe, Northern Mythology (London: Edward Lumley, 1851); Sir George Douglas, Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales (London: Walter Scott, 1893); George F. Black, comp., Examples ofPrinted Folk-Lore Concerning the Orkney and Shetland Islands, Country Folk-Lore series, vol. 3 (London: Folk-Lore Society, 1903), pp. 189-193; James A. Teit, "Water-Beings in Shetlandic Folklore as Remembered by Shetlanders in British Columbia," Journal of American Folklore 31 (1918): 183-186; Jacqueline Simpson, Icelandic Folktales and Legends (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), p. 96; Katharine M. Briggs, A Dictionary ofFairies (London: Allen Lane, 1976), p. 311-313; Sigurd Towrie, Orkneyjar: The Icelandic Nykur, http://www.orkneyjar. com/folklore/nokk2.htm; Sigurd Towrie, Orkneyjar: Nuckelavee, the Devil of the Sea, http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/nuckle. htm; Sigurd Towrie, Orkneyjar: The Nuggle, Orkney's Water Horse, http://www.orkneyjar. com/folklore/nokk.htm.

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