We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Nuckelavee.
The Nuckelavee is a demon from the Orkney Islands in Scotland. It is primarily associated with the sea, but it comes onto land to wreak havoc.
No one knows what its form is when it is in the sea, but when it comes onto land, it takes the hideous form of a man combined with a horse. A human torso comes out of the back of the horse where a rider would normally be, but the arms reach all the way down to the ground, and the head is too big for the neck to support so it constantly lolls from side to side. The horse head has a gaping mouth with toxic breath and a single eye that glows red. Also, the Nuckelavee has no skin.
The Nuckelavee comes ashore and causes crops to die and livestock to sicken. It can also cause droughts and plagues. Like other sea creatures, it cannot tolerate fresh water, and a person can escape it by crossing a river or stream. Also, an entity known as the Sea Mither keeps the Nuckelavee confined to the ocean depths during the calm summer months.