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Scottish Vampire Legends

Helen is from Fife, Scotland and knows a thing or two about the paranormal.

Read on to learn all about Scottish Vampire Legends.

Read on to learn all about Scottish Vampire Legends.

Vampires in Scotland

Many of the legends and encounters with vampires from all over the world go back thousands of years. What’s particularly interesting from this article’s point of view is that Scotland was once viewed as the hotspot for vampirism hundreds of years before Eastern Europe became famous for its blood-sucking counts.

Both Scottish and Irish lore give rise to the vampire stories and many other creatures of the night. It has to be said that accounts of vampires and werewolves within the British Isles are not as prevalent as in other parts of Europe.

However, the descriptions given of encounters with the undead are every bit as eerie as their more famous counterparts from other countries.

Glamis Castle has many terrifying stories such as vampires.

Glamis Castle has many terrifying stories such as vampires.

The Vampire of Glamis Castle?

In addition to the legend of an imprisoned monster and numerous ghosts, Glamis also has a creepy ‘vampire’ story.

There are two main accounts associated with the vampire legend.

The Vampire Child

The first is that the 'secret' of Glamis is a child, believed to have been a vampire and born into the family. It was later kept away from people by being put in a secret room. Further legends state that the 'secret' is that within each generation, a 'vampire' is born into the family.

A Blood Sucking Woman

The second legend is in relation to a worker at the castle.

A few hundred years ago, a serving woman was caught leaning over a body and drinking the victim's blood. The penalty was severe, and she was walled up alive in a secret room in the castle.

Some stories suggest that the vampire is still alive and waiting to be released. It's interesting to note that no attempt was made to destroy the vampire in the classic way of a stake through the heart or, as was more common in Scotland, dismemberment of the body and then burning it.

If this legend does have any truth to it, why was the serving woman not disposed of more quickly rather than the slow death of starving? Was she also responsible for the murder of her victim? If so, why was she not executed for the crime? This is an intriguing and puzzling story.

Scottish vampires hunted in wild locations and often in packs.

Scottish vampires hunted in wild locations and often in packs.

The BaoBhan Sith: Scotland's Legendary Vampire

The baobhan sith (baa-van-shee) is one of the oldest forms of vampire in Scotland.

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Mostly found within the Highland regions, it invariably takes the form of a beautiful woman. The vampire is usually dressed in green - the colour of magic and the fairies. The baobhan sith, like most forms of vampire, can shape-shift at will.

This ghost vampire was always deemed to be very dangerous to humans. They also have a number of things in common with the classic vampire:

  • They are creatures of the night
  • Drink human blood
  • May sometimes have fangs like the classic vampire
  • They are seductive
  • Cannot tolerate daylight
  • Can shape-shift into another animal form
  • They are telepathic and can read thoughts

However, there are some interesting differences:

  • The baobhan sith will only rise once a year from her grave.
  • Other names include 'The White Woman'.
  • The vampires are all female.
  • They stalk their prey in forests and other natural locations.
  • They shun society, keeping to rural areas, but frequently hunt in packs.
  • They have been known to invite men to dance with them before attacking.
  • They use their extremely sharp fingernails to draw blood from the victim rather than fangs. When attacking, the nails are said to turn into talons.
  • Some are said to have cloven hooves for feet that are hidden under their long dresses.
  • A man bitten by a baobhan sith will not turn into a vampire.
  • Any woman who is attacked and killed by a baobhan sith will return as one of them.
  • Building a stone cairn over their grave was thought to stop them from rising.
  • Iron is one of the main weapons used against these vampires.
  • They are afraid of horses, particularly if the horses are shod with iron shoes. Therefore, anyone who remained sitting on their horse while confronting the baobhan sith would be safe.

There are numerous stories of encounters with the baobhan sith. Most of the legends are usually about a brave young man who manages to escape from the clutches of the malevolent female vampire.

Blair Atholl and area with many stories and legends of vampires and other supernatural creatures.

Blair Atholl and area with many stories and legends of vampires and other supernatural creatures.

Princes Street Edinburgh, the scene of a strange vampire-like attack on a horse.

Princes Street Edinburgh, the scene of a strange vampire-like attack on a horse.

Weird Vampire Encounters

The following are just a couple from the many interesting accounts of strange creatures attacking humans and animals. They're not your classic vampire with black cloak, blood shot eyes and fangs, but they do have similar characteristics.

As far as I can tell the stories were told and recorded in good faith, so it's up to the reader to decide what to make of them.

Blood Sucking Creature: 1920s Glen Tilt, Blair Atholl.

This is a well-known account of two poachers who retired from their nighttime activities to rest in a nearby bothy*. Both reported that they were suddenly attacked while they slept by some kind of creature. They also reported that the creature had managed to drink a little blood from one of the men. After a hair-raising struggle with the shadowy beast, they both managed to fight the creature off. In some accounts, the creature is said to have flown away. In others, it's said it simply disappeared (*a bothy is a shelter, usually an old cottage, that is used by travellers/mountaineers for resting before continuing their journey. They are only found in isolated areas, usually many miles from public roads).

The William Brien House. 1915/1916: Inverleith, Edinburgh

This case involves the murder of a medical student. The reason I've included the case here is because of the wounds he is alleged to have sustained. The murder is still unsolved, and the student was reported to have been investigating severe paranormal activity at the time of his death. The activity centred around an evil apparition witnessed by staff and visitors to the house now serving as a hotel. Several members of staff had left their employment, and many guests had fled from the hotel in fear. They all claimed to see a very strange and evil apparition watching them. As a dare, medical student Andrew Muir asked the owners if he could hold an all-night vigil in the most active room to see if he could catch whatever was responsible for the strange happenings. The owners agreed and gave Andrew a bell to ring if he needed to alert them to anything. A few hours after the vigil began, the owners were rushing back to the room. They had heard the bell, but they had also heard a terrifying scream. On entering the room, they found the body of Andrew Muir slumped over. Some of the accounts state that the body had puncture wounds that were bleeding from the neck and shoulder. The murder is still unsolved to this day. Some claim that the apparition is the previous owner of the house—William Brien. He was a very strange man who lived as a recluse. On his death, his body was removed by undertakers who were not known in the area. When he was buried, he left strict instructions that his grave was to be forty feet deep and the coffin to be kept secure. Whether this was to keep 'something' in or 'something' out of the coffin, we will never know. But prior to the house being re-purchased and turned into the hotel, there were numerous accounts of strange noises, voices and other activity coming from the empty house. So much so that many people avoided the building.

Edinburgh, Princes Street, 1899 or 1900, 23rd November

*Edinburgh, Princes Street, 1899 or 1900, 23rd November. An eyewitness account by Geoffrey Anderson.

Geoffrey was making his way home on a dark Edinburgh evening and was just at the corner of Princes Street and Hanover Street. He saw a horse and carriage outside a large shop, and the scene was lit up by the shop's lighting. Suddenly Geoffrey saw a black mass that seemed to come out of the drain about 15 feet away from the horse and carriage. He described the mass changing into a shape similar to that of an hourglass. It was about four feet long and two feet wide. The shape moved, but it had no visible legs and was described as moving similar to a caterpillar. But unlike a caterpillar, this mass moved rapidly, and it suddenly sprang onto the horse's throat and clung on. Geoffrey and another passer-by ran forward to help the terrified animal. As they did so, the black mass suddenly vanished into thin air! Luckily the horse seemed to be unharmed by the encounter, and both men were able to quiet the animal down after a minute or two.

© 2012 Helen Murphy Howell


Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on August 01, 2013:

Hi Dorset Fan, many thanks for the interesting comment.

Dorset Fan on July 30, 2013:

It`s VERY interesting what Mr Happy says because I am Hungarian, so Transylvania used to be actually ours. Sorry, I know the truth hurts. lol I can honestly confirm that everyone talks about vampires and especially Count Dracula back home. I grew up with these stories, we used to scare each other as kids. I do remember how popular these plastic vampire fangs you could buy were back in the 80-90`s. Or you could shoot with an air-gun in the local fair and get it as a prize. Those were days...:-)

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on September 07, 2012:

Hi Mido Mawlana - there is something very intriguing about the vampire - no doubt about it!

Mido Mawlana on September 05, 2012:

i want to be vampire

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on June 05, 2012:

Hi Jhudah, LOL!! You've made a very good point about the iron. I guess when the legends were born, folks didn't know the composition of human blood - however, I'm sure they would have come up with some kind of 'magic' to allow the drinking of blood without harm!

Yikes! Blood has to be one of the most foul smelling substances on the planet. I remember during my training being in an operating theatre and cauterisation of blood vessels was common during ops to seal off the blood vessels - but, omg, the stench was appalling and took some time to get used to! So yes, the breath of a vampire would kill you as much as the bite!!!

Jhudah on June 04, 2012:

wow! the funny thing about BaoBhan Sith vampires is that if their weakness is iron then they could die drinking our blood because our blood have iron. haha.

and i bet vampires have bad breath LOL.

the places are really beautiful.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on June 02, 2012:

Hi lifebyandrea, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

Andrea from Elgin, TX on June 01, 2012:

this was a great before bed read. voted up and interesting.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 26, 2012:

Hi Nell, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. I agree that the horse encounter gave me the creeps - poor animal got a real fright, but it seems no lasting harm was done.

Yea - I thought that was a bit odd about Romania as well. I know that Greece has ancient stories like vampires and I did think that these were also common throughout the rest of Europe especially in the Balkan area.

Nell Rose from England on May 23, 2012:

Hi, this was fascinating as I never realised that Scotland had their share of Vampire stories. I noticed that it was called the BaoBhan Sith, sounds similar to the irish ban shee? the story with the horse was spooky too! I noticed a comment above about Romania not having vampires? that's strange because I have watched tv programmes about romania and its vampires, in fact there are villages today over there that actually still do believe, and protect their graveyards accordingly, to stop them rising, great hub and voted up!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 08, 2012:

Hi Mike, many thanks for the info - sounds very interesting!!

MikeSyrSutton from An uncharted galaxy on May 07, 2012:

No prob! There is a book about Celtic Vamp's called"Bloody Irish" You may want to advertise on here.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 07, 2012:

Hi MikeSyrSutton, many thanks for the visit and glad that you enjoyed the hub! I have to admit that The Celtic and Scottish lore is one of my favourite subjects. There's always something else around the corner that is an amazing discovery!!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 07, 2012:

Hi Harvest Moon, many thanks for the visit and glad that you enjoyed the hub. When I started writing a number of years ago, it surprised me as well just how much information I didn't know about my own country. It's been an exciting journey of discovery!

MikeSyrSutton from An uncharted galaxy on May 06, 2012:

Wow! This was an excellent read! The history of Celtic and Scottish lore is fascinating! Voted up.

Harvest Moon from Earth on May 05, 2012:

Excellent hub and excellent information! I wasn't even aware of most of these myths and legends, but Scotland has always been one of my favorite places. Now I'm even more interested in visiting some of her old castles and abbeys! Thanks for a very engaging read.

God bless!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on May 03, 2012:

Hello Beth - lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub.

I have to admit when I started this hub I wasn't sure if I would get that much info - bagpipes and tartan are not usually equated with vampires!! But I was pleasantly surprised.

Wow! Now that is very interesting about you and your daughter. Most of the Banshees/Bean Nighes do attach themselves to a family. Now they're not meaning any harm, in fact they can be very protective. It's simply a warning that someone you know will be on their way to the spirit realm very soon. The opposite to that is, as you have said, is the announcement of a birth. The birth is awesome, as this is quite a rare phenomenon with the Banshee/Bean Nighe. Many thanks for sharing this information, it was really interesting!!

Beth Perry from Tennesee on May 02, 2012:

Seeker, so fascinating! I truly enjoyed reading about the Scot vampires.

I sometimes wonder if there isn't some Scot Banshee somewhere in my lineage as I've had several occurrences when my daughter and I have been woken up by a woman's scream, inevitably on a day when we find out someone we're close to has either died or given birth.

Thanks for posting and I'm voting up.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on April 21, 2012:

Absolutely. The cases where true possession has occurred to very good people must have been horrific for them. I think if good people are effected by an evil energy, I would think that they may well have some psychic ability that opens them up and makes them more vulnerable perhaps.

Gypsy Flower from Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A on April 20, 2012:

Sometimes I'm sure that's the case. Hopefully that isn't always so, though, because I certainly have an interest (bordering on obsession). Still, I think certain types of spirits or energies find it easier to take hold in someone who can accept that sort of evil into themselves. The real tragedies are when a negative energy tries to possess the truly innocent.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on April 20, 2012:

I agree that there is more strangeness in our world than we will ever know of. That other energies, entities exist there is no doubt in my mind at all. That these other beings have been responsibler for the deaths of human beings - I think this is highly likely. But do the actual form of the true vampires or whatever look like our fictional ones? They might not.

It might well be that some serial killers are possessed - it is possible so can't be dismissed. And I would add, as 'like attracts like' - do these serial killers attract demonic energy and/or do they invite them in with open arms due to their own inheritent evil?

Gypsy Flower from Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A on April 15, 2012:

I do 100% agree with you, Seeker! I'm only repeating something that I've heard in other contexts, a perfectly reasonable explanation that still doesn't account for everything involved in vampirism, werewolf phenomenon, etc. In some cases I do indeed believe that certain serial killers are possessed!

The ancients really did have a lot on the ball. They were more in tune with the universe than we are with all our computers and rationality and empirical data; they had an intuition that has been fading from humanity as we "progress" toward the future. Perhaps a vampire is the reason for certain serial murders, and not the other way around.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on April 15, 2012:

Hi Gypsy Flower. Many thanks for stopping by and thank for a most interesting comment.

I hadn't thought about vampires in relation to seriel killers - but that is a very intriguing idea. I learned many years ago not to dismiss the beliefs of the ancestors. They may not have had computers and other technology, but they weren't dumb either. But there is something in what you say about relating vampires/supernatural beings to serial murders. Even today wouldn't it be easier to think that a serial killer is possessed by some demon rather than just an evil human being?

Having said all that, I still think that our ancestors were definitely more tuned in to not only the natural world but to the spiritual as well. Sure their interpretations might be a bit different from ours but I think there is much we could learn from them.

Gypsy Flower from Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A on April 14, 2012:

Of course there's the theory that vampires & other "supernatural" monsters were alternatives to the way the ancients interpreted serial murders. If something makes no sense on anything resembling a rational level, humans tend to create stories to explain it. Still, there's always the possibility that the ancients had it right & we've lost touch with the way things really are with all our "advanced" thinking. After all, the stories are getting stronger, not fading away!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on April 11, 2012:

Hi Cherrycrime26,

That's a very interesting point about when there is so much history there has to be some truth. Vampires like ghosts/spirits go back thousands of years. Today, they are even stronger within our culture than previously - things that do have an element of truth to them, never seem to fade from human society.

January Moon from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga on April 09, 2012:

Yes and when there's that must history, there has to be some truth :-)

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on April 09, 2012:

Hi cherrycrime26, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. I have to say that True Blood is one awesome progamme - you never know what is going to happen next and it's super creepy!

I love all the traditions and myths surrounding vampires and what interests me is how long in history they go back!

January Moon from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga on April 08, 2012:

This was a great read, I love vampires and history on them that I can find in all cultures, I'm a big TrueBlood and Twilight fan, I'm becoming a new fan of the BaoBhan, female vampires are one of my passions, voted up and awesome :-)

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 29, 2012:

Hi Robwrite - as always it's a pleasure to hear from you. Glad that you enjoyed the hub, even if it is a bit on the unusual side!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 29, 2012:

Hi Susan lovely to hear from you. Apart from our granmothers and grandfathers, elderly people in general are an absolute goldmine of information and stories. What they tell you is always much more entertaining than any book or website!

Rob from Oviedo, FL on March 29, 2012:

Scotland and vampires. Two of my favorite subjects. Interesting information. I didn't know about this stuff.

Well done.


Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on March 27, 2012:

I seem to recall my grandmother telling me about the BaoBhan Sith. Very interesting hub!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 27, 2012:

Hello Gypsy Flower, many thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. LOL! I'm sure you'll have loads of time to get to Glamis Castle and you'll love the place. It looks great on the photographs, but when you see the place for real, the atmosphere is incredible.

Gypsy Flower from Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A on March 26, 2012:

Glamis Castle is on my must-visit-before-I-die list! Wait, let me rephrase that.... This list of unique perspectives on the various vampires of the world is great.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 26, 2012:

Hi Alastar! LOL! When I first thought about this hub I honestly couldn't get the image of a kilted vampire out of my mind and somehow it just didn't seem right! However, once I learned about the actual accounts I was very relieved to know that no Scottish vampire wore anything like a kilt! I wouldn't have been able to take it seriously.

The BaoBhan really has me puzzled. One the one hand I'm not a great fan of physical vampirism - psychic vampires yes. But when you look into the legends of these creatures, there seems to be an awful lot of detail, you don't often get that. And yes, I do believe that there are definitely shape-shifters and other very weird beings, so why not vampires? I guess my problem is that I initially viewed all vampires as being of the Bram Stoker/Movie type and that I can't buy into for real life. But the ghost/spirit like, shape-shifting, vapourish shadows - I agree Alastar, take them seriously! Enough folks around the world have had encounters with them and for me, the do exist.

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 26, 2012:

Hi Michele, many thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment - appreciated. Glad you found the hub interesting as I wasn't sure how folks would take to the Scottish vampire theme! LOL!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 26, 2012:

Hi CM! LOL! I know what you mean about 'bloodsuckers'! Just after I published this one I noticed that Kitty had also published one on Greek legends and vampires - well worth a read, it was excellent and very creepy!

Now I've heard about Highgate Cemetery. That has to be one of the most fascinating places in England! Is the vampire legend based on historical and/or paranormal happenings? Or do you think it's more myth? I'll need to look up Highgate again. It's a while since I read anything about it. Now the photos I've seen are atmospheric enough, I can only imagine what the real place must be like!

Many thanks for your visit and the very interesting comments!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 26, 2012:

Mr Happy - thank you! I'll enjoy looking at this link you've sent - much appreciated!

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on March 25, 2012:

Scottish Vampires! Never would have thought Seeker. Somehow just don't associate them with Scotland. Gotta ask like you though, why wall one up instead of the trusty stake method. Gamis sure is a peculiar looking castle btw. Now, the BaoBhan is one I'd take very seriously, definitely, as we both know that such things as the shapeshifters and funeral Banshees are no joke. New Scottish word there, bothy- cool! Nice pics and very intriguing weird encounters. Awesome as par Seeker, thank you my friend!

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on March 24, 2012:

Wow, what an interesting hub ( to say the least!) Couldn't stop reading and voted you up!

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on March 24, 2012:

There is a lot of us writing about blood-sucking creatures today! Thanks for all this great information Seeker7, as I didn't know that there were so many vampire stories in Scotland. The black mass and the horse is especially creepy! I think that the nearest vampire we have around here is the one that is supposed to lurk in Highgate Cemetery

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on March 24, 2012:

Greetings again Mr. Seeker,

We honestly don't really miss vampires since we have almost an over-load of ghosts, will-o-the-wisps, sorcerers and witches ... We do very well in this category so, not having vampires is really not a big deal.

Here's something You might enjoy:


Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 24, 2012:

Hi Gypsy lovely to hear from you! I was laughing when when you said about it being morning - I wrote most of this during the day!!! LOL! Not that I think anything was going to happen, but I do have a very fertile imagination and my mind can make me more nervous than reality!!

That's interesting about your own creatures that you may have - if you find out anything, I would love to know!

Many thanks again Gypsy for the vote up and the bookmark + passing on - it really is appreciated!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 24, 2012:

Hi Mr Happy - as always its lovely to hear from you! You have me laughing as well!! Why is it that we all tend to believe in something about another country that we have invented ourselves??? LOL! I honestly had no idea that Eastern Europe did not have vampires within their folklore - now that I do find very interesting indeed! Especially from an area of the world so rich in history going back a very long time.

Many thanks again for stopping by and for the very interesting comment - much appreciated!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on March 24, 2012:

Voted up and interesting! I'm so fascinated by all this. Wow a little too close to home I'm in Riga we're practically neighbors. I think we have some creatures here too will have to look into this. Thanks for this great hub.Just seeing the first pic made me glad it's morning. lol Passing it on and bookmarking.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on March 23, 2012:

Interesting read.

I always find it hilarious to hear about Transylvanian vampires ... there are no Transylvanian vampires! You can at least believe me because I grew-up there. Nobody in Transilvania talks about vampiri/vampires. That is a British invention. Dacians/Romanians do not have vampires in folk tales or mythology.

The drinking of blood, I assume comes from the fact that indeed some Kings and Princes drank blood to raise their adrenalyn levels before battle. Nobody went "poof" and flew away in bat-form, calling themselves vampires and living forever though ... not back-home anyway.

I enjoyed the legends You wrote about. Did not know any of them. I actually only learned about vampires after moving to the west ... the stories are quite funny.

Thanks for the write. All the best!

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