Scottish Folk Beliefs

Faerie Cattle – a Water-Bull

Folk-belief. Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

A water-bull was seen emerging from the sea at night.

There is a lingering belief on the island of Skye, in northwest Scotland, that creatures live in a world that lies beneath the waters of the lochs and streams, and the sea. These creatures are feared if they emerge into the upper air. Water-bulls, for example, might father sinister calves which have quickly to be slaughtered.

Once, within living memory at the time the story was recorded by Otta Swire in the 1950s, a water-bull was seen emerging from the sea at night, dripping wet, feeding upon valuable crops and then disappearing into the water again before dawn. Such was the fear of this creature that no one dared to challenge it or even to fence around the corn, for fear of angering the beast.

The truth came to light many years later when the son of one of the local farmers returned from Australia where he had emigrated with his wife. The water-bull, the man revealed, had been the black bull of a herd that his father-in-law had once kept on Flodigarry Island, that lay a kilometer from the mainland of northern Skye. The bull had swum across to the opposite shore every night – which the man knew because he had regularly made this same nocturnal crossing himself, whilst courting his future wife, and had met with the creature on more than one occasion as it swam past him in the opposite direction!

Story recounted from: Swire, Otta F. and Black, Ronald (Ed), 1952 reprinted 2006. Skye: The Island and its Legends. Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh. 5. Trotternish: Portree to Flogigarry, pp 46–8.

See for yourself

Isle of Skye – Wikipedia

Water bull – Wikipedia

Water bull on the Isle of Man – isle of

Lakes and seas

Piccadilly Line

magical water
land beneath the water

Navigate the tunnel

Lakes and seas: summary

Station location: explore the motifs

hawk in flight
Advanced Tips
Type Example Notes
Fuzzy kettle~ Contain terms that are close to the word kettle, such as cattle
Wild cat* Contain terms that begin with cat, such as category and the extact term cat itself
Exact-Single orange Contain the term orange
Exact-Phrase "dnn is awesome" Contain the exact phase dnn is awesome
OR orange bike Contain the term orange or bike, or both. OR, if used, must be in uppercase
orange OR bike
AND orange AND bike Contain both orange and bike. AND must be in uppercase
Combo (agile OR extreme) AND methodology Contain methodology and must also contain agile and/or extreme
Results per Page:
Limit the search results with the specified tags.
Limit the search results modified within the specified time.
Limit the search results from the specified source.
Search results must be an exact match for the keywords.
open ocean