Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Introduction to Scotland and the Fraser Clan


I was born in Edinburgh but my father took a job in Australia when I was only a year old so I had never really seen Scotland until I saw the movie "Braveheart" with him. I found it tremendously moving to see the lives of people who must have been my ancestors. It's all the more significant to me now as my father and, later, my mother died not so long ago.  (There's a link in the sidebar to read more about them)

The address given is no longer in the family but that was the family home for many years and that was the last place the extended family was together.  Over time member of the family has formed a clan of his or her own but all look back on that house as the home we shared.

I've been most of the way around the world now but my journey won't be complete until I go back to Scotland. I'm not so far away from Scotland now and I hope before too much more time passes to go there.

Alan Fraser


The grand history of Scotland is a huge fascination to me, in part to help me understand the origins of my family.  With Frasers on one side and Sopers / Clarks on the other, my heritage is almost entirely Scottish and it has fascinated me to learn more of what has been home to all of those families for generations.

The Celtic times are mystical in many ways and the enigmas of that era are hugely interesting in their own right. With a mythology that stretches back thousands of years, the sources and inspiration of the tales is most intriguing.

History of the Fraser Clan

Brian Fraser wrote an extensive description of the history of the Frasers from a possible origin in France as the 'bearers of strawberries' up through the more notable events in recent history.

Alex and Anne Fraser

My parents traveled much of the world and wound up in America but Scotland was always home and their blog, external to this one, tells that story:  Alex Fraser, Geneticist and Painter.  The link is also in the blog sidebar.


The summary timeline of Scottish history is fairly continuous back to 800 B.C.  The history is fairly comprehensive but there is always more that can be said.  The objective is to provide a summary timeline rather than to provide the definitive reference source.  The easiest way to find it is to click the INDEX tab at a the top of the blog to link directly to it.


The faeries and other creatures of Scottish / Celtic mythology are many and highly diverse. The sheer number of them is impressive and the variety is incredible.  There are multiple ways to find any particular name:

  • Click the INDEX tab at the top of the blog to show an index into the articles about faeries.
  • Look at the Titles in the blog Archive as that will provide an index into the articles as well.
  • Scroll through the blog, clicking on the names of faeries as you see them and that will take you from one article to another.


These are books I have found very useful in learning more about Scotland.


Click the LINKS tab at the top of the blog for links for finding products made in Scotland and / or learning more about Scotland.

Scottish Mythology - Abbey Lubber / Awd Goggie

Abbey Lubber

The monks of the Middle Ages were not always the pious individuals that one might hope and Abbey Lubbers caused many problems.  Some say they just wanted to share in the ill-gotten gains of the monks and others believe they were trying to expose the corruption of crooked monasteries.  The Buttery Spirits, sometimes known as the Traveler's Torch, behaved the same way with inns and taverns.

Aiken Drum

Dressed only in clothing comprised of food, Aiken Drum must have presented something of a strange appearance to those who encountered him.  According to the nursery rhyme, he lived in the Moon.  The modern version of the nursery rhyme took out the part about Willy Wood eating Aiken Drum's food.


Little boys who ignore their mothers and stay up too late may meet Ainsel coming down the chimney onto the hearth of the fireplace.

Apple-Tree Man

The oldest apple tree in an orchard is the Apple Tree Man and he guards over the other trees.  It's good to feed him apple cider and leave a little something for the robins in his branches.


The Irish water horse rose from the sea to gallop across land and anyone who could catch one would have a marvelous animal.  However, if it ever again heard or saw the sea, it would kill its rider as it galloped back into the water.  The Aughisky is very similar to the Each Uisge of Scotland.

Awd Goggie

This is a type of Bogie who is a caterpillar large enough to eat the children who ignore their mother's order to stay away from forests, orchards, and particularly berry bushes.

Reference: "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katherine Briggs.

Scottish Mythology - Banshee / Bwbachod


The prophet of death is a beautiful woman who died young.  If many banshees are seen at once, then something terrible is about to happen.


Like the Banshee, it once appeared when someone important was going to die.  It is also like the Hedley Kow in that it can change its shape.  It is generally unlucky to see it.


Sometimes helpful and sometimes playful, the Bauchan might associate itself with a specific individual.


Like the Irish banshees, in the Highlands of Scotland these are prophets of death.

Bendith y Mamau

These are very ugly fairies who like to steal mortal children and leave their Changelings in place of them.

Billy Blind

He is a helpful Hobgoblin who is very loyal and helpful to his chosen family.

Black Annis

She was a real charmer in that she was hideously ugly, cannibalistic, and her howls could be heard for miles.

Black Dogs

Stories of black dogs are quite common and most of them are bad.  Some black dogs will protect travelers against thieves.

Blue Burches

He was a hobgoblin who played harmless pranks until he was chased into a pond by a parson.  He may have become an Each Uisge after that.


This is one of the many varieties of mine Brownies but is friendly and a very hard worker.

Blue Men of the Minch

Their colors came from their tattoos and they like to swim out to passing ships to sink them.


See Knockers.


This is the Brownie found in the Highlands of Scotland.


See also Bauchan


This is a brownie who has turned to mischief, possibly because he has been teased by the family he has chosen.


Delighting in tormenting mortals, bogies can be very dangerous.

See also Unseelie Court.


In Scotland, a bogie is generally only dangerous to evil-doers.


Like the Hedley Kow or the Dunnie, the Brag can change its shape.  It generally prefers to appear as a horse as it seems to be able to do the most mischief this way.

Brown Man of the Muirs

He is a dwarf who guards the animals of the forests and is capable of killing a mortal who harms one of 'his' creatures.


Brownies are quite willing to work for a family during the night so long as they receive a good meal for their services.  However, they may leave if they are criticized.

See also Pixies.


He sometimes helped fishermen if he was given a fish and some ale.  Mothers also used to warn children about him so there were clearly good ones and bad ones.



Buttery Spirits

Since they cannot eat quality food, Buttery Spirits live only in places where innkeepers are watering the wine and serving sub-standard food.  They were very bad news for crooked innkeepers and they were would sometimes leave them in the stable with a feedbag over the head.


These are the Brownies of Wales.

Reference: "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katherine Briggs.

Scottish Mythology - Cabyll-Ushtey / Cu Sith


The water-horse of the Isle of Man.

See also the Each Uisge of Scotland and the Aughisky of Ireland.

Cailleach Bheur

She is the spirit of winter and she tends to the forest animals during that season.

See also the Brown Man of the Muirs.


He could take any shape he liked but generally appeared as a black dog who liked to help the farmers bring their sheep and cattle in from the fields.

Cauld Lad of Hilton

Half brownie and half ghost, he haunted the Hilton Castle by making a great racket while he cleaned anything that was left dirty over-night in the kitchen.


Fairies sometimes stole mortal babies and left changelings in their place.


He really doesn't do anything other than clapping his cans and making a great racket.


He was a solitary fairy who was said to hide in a cask so he could move along with the home-owner.


These are the mine goblins of Wales.  A miner could follow their sound to be best ore in the mine.

See also the Knockers.

Coleman Gray

An old chap found a small Pixie who was cold, hungry and lost.  The fellow nurse the pixie back to health but one day a voice called out to Coleman Gray.  With that, the pixie dashed away to his father and never returned.

Crodh Mara

These are the water-cattle of the Highlands of Scotland and will lead an entire herd of mortal cows into a fairy hill if not watched very closely.  While not as dangerous, they resemble the Each Uisge.

Cu Sith

A dark-green fairy dog with feet as large as a man's, they were generally used as protection of the fairy house.  If released, they could be extremely dangerous.

See also the Black Dogs.

Reference: "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katherine Briggs.

Scottish Mythology - Dando and his Dogs / Dwarfs

Dando and His Dogs

Dando was a corrupt priest who is said to rise up from Hell to ride with his dogs on stormy nights.

Daoine Sidhe

The fairy people of Ireland were once the size of men but got smaller over time.

Devil's Dandy Dogs

Lonely travelers in Cornwall might fall prey to the Wild Hunt.  The only defense is to stop running and pray.


He is a Hobgoblin who is kind to old men.


He warns of storms by shouting or blowing a horn.


The Doonies are something like the Dunnies of Northumberland but the stories about Doonies all tell of rescue.


English dragons are flightless but have poisonous breath.  St George's dragon has the wings of a bat and can breathe fire.


The evil dwarfs of northern England, hate men and are a great danger to travelers.


He liked to play tricks on people by appearing as a donkey and then disappearing at an amusing moment.  It has been more than a century since he was last seen.


Some say that Dunters are spirits of creatures sacrificed by the Picts.  If the haunting sound made by the Dunters gets louder, it becomes an omen of death.

See also Redcaps.


The dwarfs of the British Isles generally had specific names (e.g. Knockers)

Reference: "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katherine Briggs.

Scottish Mythology - Each Uisge / Elves

Each Uisge

The Highland water-horse is more dangerous than the Aughisky or the Cabyll-ushtey.

See also Kelpies.


The elves of Wales are tiny, elegant and helpful to mortals in distress.


In Scotland, Elves are of human size but the English elves are small fairy people.  In either case, one has to be careful with them as they will avenge themselves of any wrongdoing.

Reference: "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katherine Briggs.

Scottish Mythology - Fairies / Foul-Weather

Fairies on the Eastern Green

Smugglers took some time to watch a fairy dance but found themselves under an attack due to this insult.  Bad luck followed them for the rest of their lives.

Fairy Animals

As with animals known to humans, fairy animals are wild and domestic.

See also the Each Uisge, the Kelpie and the Cabyll-Ushtey.

Fairy Brides

When a mortal takes a fairy bride, they can only find happiness if she takes him back to Fairyland with her.


He was banished from Fairyland for dancing with a mortal girl.  Nevertheless, he continues to love mortals and he applies his tremendous strength to working in the fields of Manx.

See also Brownie


These are the fairy people of Manx.


He is the Fairy King of Ulster and is sometimes called the King of the Dead.


A king was building a cathedral and he made a deal with a goblin to complete the work.  If the goblin could complete the work before the king could guess his name, then the goblin would take his heart; otherwise he would do it for free.  The king guessed the name just as the goblin was putting the last touches on the cathedral.

Reference: "Abbey Lubbers, Banshees & Boggarts. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies" by Katherine Briggs.