The brownie, a supernatural being that haunted the abodes of the affluent and did work for the servants. The term seems have been introduced into the Highlands only in recent times and along with south country ideas. In general the brùnaidh was harmless, but he made mischief unless every place was left open at night. He was fed with warm milk by the dairy-maid. The brùnaidhean might work about the barn, and at night ground with the hand-mill one or two bags of grain. If rewarded for their work, they leave with their gifts and never come back.

Pennant says that the brownie was represented as "stout and blooming, had fine flowing hair, and went about with a wand in his hand."

In the islet of Càra, west of Kintyre, a brùnaidh haunted an old house that once belonged to the Macdonalds. It drank milk, made a terrific outcry when hurt, and disliked the Campbell race. Although he was heard, no one had ever seen more than a glimpse of him. He disliked anything dirty being left in the house for the night, and before the arrival of strangers he put the house in order. Dogs had to be put out for the night, as he often killed those left in the house. Persons who soiled the house in the dark would often receive a slap from him. Water-stoups left full over-night were found tumbled over in the morning. In the old castle of Largie, on the opposite coast of Kintyre, which belonged to the same Macdonalds, there was another brùnaidh, supposed to be the same as the Càra one.



  • Campbell, J.G. (1900). Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Glascow: James MacLehose and Sons, pp. 187-188.
  • Pennant, Thomas. (1772). A tour in Scotland, and voyage to the Hebrides. London: Benjamin White, p. 360.