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The urisk

An urisk or ùruisg is a goblin of Lowland Scotland similar to the Brownie


Description

The ùruisg is described as half-man, half-goat, with flowing yellow hair, wearing a broad blue bonnet and carrying a long walking staff.


Origin

According to Campbell, the urisks are the children of the union of mortal men and fairy women.


Place

Generally the urisk prefers to live in the recesses of distant hills and lonely waterfalls and pools. Every stream in Breadalbane had an ùruisg once according to Watson the Scottish place name expert, and their king was Peallaidh. (Peallaidh's name is preserved in "Obair Pheallaidh", known in English as "Aberfeldy".) It may be the case, that ùruisg was conflated with some water sprite, or that ùruisg were originally water sprites conflated with brownies.


Behavior

Folklorist John Gregorson Campbell distinguishes between the English brownie, which lived in houses, and the Scottish ùruisg or urisk, which lived outside in streams and waterfalls and was less likely to offer domestic help.

The ùruisg enjoyed solitude at certain seasons of the year. Around the end of the harvest, he became more sociable, and hovered around farmyards, stables and cattle-houses. He particularly enjoyed dairy products, and tended to intrude on milkmaids, who made regular libations of milk or cream to charm him off, or to gain his favour.


Powers

The ùruisg was usually seen only by those who possessed second sight, though there were instances when he made himself visible to ordinary people as well.


See also


Sources

  • K.M.Briggs, The Anatomy of Puck (p 195).
  • G. Henderson, The Norse Influence in Celtic Scotland.
  • J.G. Campbell, The Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland (pp 42, 195-199).