Film fans can delight in seeing the Scotland on the big screen once again, as Pokémon Detective Pikachu hits cinemas in the UK on 10 May 2019.
The Highlands around Glen Nevis as well as Bridge of Orchy in Argyll are among the locations providing a magnificent backdrop for the new blockbuster. But while you might be hard pushed to catch your very own pocket monster here, the country is home to its fair share of elusive beasts for those who fancy a monster hunt.
Scotland’s myths and legends have fascinated and intrigued visitors for generations, with many hoping to be among the privileged few to catch a of glimpse of these secretive creatures.
Whether it’s our national animal, the noble unicorn – a fictional creature whose heraldic image can still be found outside many of the country’s historic buildings. Or possibly the world’s most famous monster, Nessie, who many believe still lurks in the depths of Loch Ness, there are plenty of places to start your monster search.
So here are some handy hints of where to look as you begin your journey to catch em all …
Unicorns were written about by the ancient Persians, Romans, Greeks and Celts, and were often described as an elegant white horse-like creature with a single horn capable of magical properties. They’ve been linked to Scotland for centuries and were used as an early form of the Scottish coat of arms by William I in the late 1300s.
Unicorn for inspiration in rebuilding his nation; and the Unicorn was soon incorporated into the
As well as inspiring a form of currency in the 15th and 16th century, their distinctive appearance left a legacy on the country’s cities and towns, many of which, to this day, still bear unicorn heraldry.
Statues and heraldic images of unicorns can be found outside the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle, at the Queen’s Gallery in the Palace of Holyroodhouseand on the fountain in the courtyard at Linlithgow Palace and atop the Mercat Cross in Dunfermline, Jedburgh, Melrose, Culross, Crail and Cupar
Pay a visit to Stirling Castle and you’ll find the beautiful Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry while in Dundee you’ll find the country’s only water-based unicorn. Docked in the River Tay is HM Frigate Unicorn, Scotland’s only surviving example of a wooden warship and one of the six oldest ships in the world.
Probably the most ‘sighted’ of Scotland’s monsters. The legends of what lies beneath Loch Ness has become a tourist sensation, worth millions to the country’s economy.
From as far back as the sixth century there have been many unsettling accounts of a strange, dinosaur-shaped creature who lives in the Loch. But despite many attempts, to this day the existence of Nessie remains one of the world’s most fascinating mysteries. Discoveries already made within Loch Ness include: a crashed Wellington bomber from the Second World War, a 100-year-old Zulu class sailing fishing vessel and parts of John Cobb’s speed record attempt craft Crusader which crashed at over 200mph in 1952.
Fortunately, even if you don’t come face to face with Nessie, the Loch and nearby Drumnadrochit is an area of outstanding natural beauty and close to Scotland’s most northerly city, Inverness.
This shape-shifting water spirit is another creature associated with Scotland’s lochs, although legends suggests its presence possesses a far more sinister outcome. Often appearing as a horse, the Kelpie emits a plaintive cry to attract its prey or lures onlookers to join it for a ride on its back before violently plunging them down to a watery grave.
For proof of their existence play a visit the grounds of the ruined Vayne Castle in Angus. Here you will find a hoof-shaped imprint on sandstone near the river bank left behind by this supernatural predator. It is said that in the early morning or at dusk, if you are still and listen carefully enough, you might just catch its mournful song floating along the gently flowing current. But venture no further than that, unless you wish to meet your doom.
To marvel at an immortalised version of the Kelpie, head to The Helix, where two impressive 30-metre-high sculptures pay tribute to the supernatural breed. Or why not say hello to their smaller cousins ‘the Wee Kelpies’, scale models of the famous installations currently stabled at Ardrishaig Harbour.
Largely associated with the waters of Orkney and Shetland, a Selkie (the Orcadian dialect for seal) refers to a creature that can capture the hearts of human beings. Resembling a seal in the water and taking human form on land, the graceful selkie entrances its admirers, and then disappears forever into the ocean, leaving behind a few broken hearts. It is thought that both male and female selkies can elegantly emerge from the water as beautiful people and have powerful seductive powers over humans. After finding love and spending years on land, ‘selkie folk’ will always crave a return to the sea, their rightful home. In some tales, humans hide the seal skins to prevent them returning home to the ocean.
While werewolves have earned a reputation as a fearsome predator, a half man, half wolf transformed by the light of a full moon, their Shetland equivalent, the Scottish Wulver, was known as a kind-hearted spirit, who generously helped the needy and unfortunate, feeding the hungry and guiding the lost home. With the body of a man and the head of the wolf, the Wulver hails from Shetland. According to legend, the wulver evolved from wolves and was not the victim of an unfortunate curse like the fabled Werewolf. The Wulver is said to live by itself in a cave on Shetland with the last reported sighting taking place over a 100 years ago.
For more Scottish myths and legends visit: https://ebooks.visitscotland.com/ghosts-myths-legends/
Notes to Editors
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- VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
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Scotland’s Themed Years
- Following an industry consultation, the Themed Years will now take place every second year to enable more time for planning and opportunities for collaboration.
- 2020 has been designated as a year in which Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be showcased and celebrated with a programme of activity designed to support the nation’s tourism and events sectors.
- The year, led by VisitScotland will sustain and build upon the momentum of Scotland’s preceding Themed Years to spotlight, celebrate and promote opportunities to experience and enjoy Scotland’s unrivalled Coasts and Waters, encouraging responsible engagement and participation from the people of Scotland and our visitors.
- A year-long programme of events, activities and ideas will shine a spotlight on the impact our waters have had on Scotland, from the formation of beautiful natural features to the creation of our national drink – whisky.
- Join the conversation using #YCW2020
- 2022 will be the Year of Scotland’s Stories - a celebration of our rich literature, film, oral traditions and myths and legends.