Scottish Boobrie (Sb)

Scotland has a vast array of fairy beasts for me to sort through to make a single selection. I decided on the Boobrie, to add some variety to my choices. There are a lot of water creatures in Scottish fairy lore, reflecting the culture of a land with vast stretches of coastline and a large number of islands.

The Boobrie is a monstrous bird, described by sources as having the shape of a Great Northern Diver, (or Loon in the U.S.) with large, clawed feet. Some sources describe it as only a foot tall, while others state that the prints of its webbed feet are as broad as the span of a stag’s antlers.

It is said to haunt the fresh waters of Scotland, and also described as stealing livestock from the cattle boats that move between the islands and Scottish mainland.

Sources seem to agree that the beast enjoys both fresh and roasted meat. It is often associated with the ‘each uisge’ or waterhorse, and some sources state that it is, in fact, another shape used by the waterhorse.

The Boobrie has been included in ‘natural histories’ of the British Isles up through the mid-1800’s. This supports my roommate’s theory that natives of the rural areas of the Isles enjoyed passing along tales of amazing sorts to the wandering scholars and linguists of the Victorian era.

There is a description in John G. McKay’s “More West Highland Tales” of a man whose child was taken by the Each Uisage, and his revenge. This consisted of heating a set of giant hooks until they were red hot, and luring the beastie to the shore with the smell of roasting sheep. The hooks were plunged into the sides of the monster, keeping it from escaping, and by morning there was nothing left but large quantities of slimy jelly on the shore.

yuck.

I’m hoping to work up a woodcut plate for this piece, keeping the design simple and bold. I”ve done a sketch for the plate, using stylized Celtic elements rather than realism.

 


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