In parts of Brittany, the driver of a spectral cart (or small coach) drawn by four black horses in which he comes to collect the souls of the recently departed. The noise of the wheels is always heard in the street passing the door of a house where any person is dying. Two skeletons walk alongside ankou's cart and lift the dead into it. The collector of the dead is either a tall, haggard figure with long white hair or covered with a white sheet, or a skeleton whose skull spins like a top on his bony shoulders so he can see in all directions.

Each parish has its own ankou, and it is the last person to die during the year. He or she will assume the duty of calling for the dead for the following year. In some Breton churches a little model or statuette of the ankou is to be seen.

Similarly, Le Cariguel-an-Ancon, "Chariot of Death."

Also, the ghostly guardians of cemeteries across Europe.



  • Omens and Superstitions: Curious facts and illustrative sketches. (1868). Edinburgh: William P. Nimmo, p. 137.
  • Guilbert, A.M. (1844). Histoire des villes de France: Bretagne. Touraine. Lyonnais. Béarn. Navarre. Provence. Vol. 1. Bureau des publications illustrés, p. 320.
  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. (2007). The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits. New York: Facts On File, Inc.
  • Leach, Maria, ed. (1984). Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Spence, Lewis. (1917). Legends and Romances of Brittany. New York: Fredrick A. Stokes, p. 101.