each uisge

In Scottish folklore, a water-horse which is generally malevolent toward humans. In the past, it was believed that almost every lonely freshwater lake was tenanted by one, sometimes several, of these creatures. It resembled in shape and color an ordinary horse, and was often mistaken for one. It could be seen passing from one lake to another, mixing with the farmers' horses in the adjoining pastures. The water-horse waylaid belated travelers who passed near its haunts, and it was very dangerous to touch or mount it; those whom it decoyed into doing so were take away to the loch in which it had its haunt, and there devoured.

The each uisge also appeared in other guises, among which that of young man, a boy, a ring, and even a tuft of wool. Any women upon whom it sets its mark was certain to become its victim. It could be subdued with a cow-shackle round its neck, or a cap on its head, and as long as either of these was kept on it, it could be safely employed as a farm horse.

In Skye, it was said to have a sharp bill, or according to others, a narrow slippery snout. Generally it was described as having a long flowing tale and mane. In color it was like any other horse, sometimes gray, sometimes black, or black with a white spot on its forehead. Some add that it could change color as well as form. When it appeared in the form of a man, it was detected by its horse-hoofs, and by the green water weeds and sand in its hair.

Stories of encounters with the each uisge come from all over Scotland.

See also kelpie, the cabyll-ushtey and the glashtin of the Isle of Man, and the ceffyl dwfr of Wales.



  • Campbell, J.G. (1900). Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Glascow: James MacLehose and Sons, pp. 203-204.