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While Transylvania is generally dubbed the homeplace of all vampires, the reality is that almost every culture has legends which allude to the existence of immortal beings with an un-quenching thirst for blood. Back in the day (I'm talking in the times of angry mobs, pitchforks and no plumbing), these bogeymen-Esque tales were used as a means to keep children in check - much like how Santa Clause is used now. But because these stories were widely accepted to be true by the entire community, even adults were scared into the submission of religion in the hopes of being able to avoid a fanged fate for themselves.
These days, however, things are quite different. Thanks to the craze created by the likes of Bram Stoker's legendary Dracula, cult classic TV show True Blood, and of course, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga, we see vampires in a very different light. Rather than being afraid, teenagers and adults alike often find themselves drooling over these fanged creatures of the night - guilty as charged! Now, even children are no longer afraid due to the creation of hit comedy animations like Hotel Transylvania, Monster Family and The Little Vampire. But is the reality quite as fuzzy?
While many will turn up their noses to the idea that vampires walk among us, some people are very much convinced that these monstrous beings really do exist. In Scotland, we have had our fair share of sightings over the years, and today we are going to explore some of them.
Warning: crosses and garlic will not protect you from these bloodthirsty wretches!
1. Bloodsucker - Glen Tilt, Blair Atholl, Perth and Kinross
The most northern extremity of Perthshire's sleepy town of Blair Atholl is bordered by the picturesque Glen Tilt Circuit. Known for being a well-loved scenic route, this hot spot for tourists offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hillsides along with perfect hiking paths which also attract biking enthusiasts. But according to the legend of old, something unsettling lurks in the wilderness here.
Back in the early 20th century, two unwitting poachers became the target of a vampire. The pair claim that after bedding down for the night in a woodland cottage, they were attacked by a violent creature which drank the blood from one of the men. Opting to fight back rather than run away, the men somehow managed to fend the vampire off, and they watched dumbstruck as it flew off into the night.
Strangely, their story rings eerily similar to another now infamous tale. In the 1920s, this time in Aberdeen, another two poachers faced the same fate after they had also stopped at a cottage for the night. Again, both men lived to tell the tale, and they were adamant that their attacker was a vampire.
2. The Gorbals Vampire - Southern Necropolis, Glasgow
Having grown up just outside the city, this vampiric tale is one that has always fascinated me for obvious reasons.
The legend of the Gorbals Vampire began in the early 1950s when stories of a seven-feet-tall, child-eating monster with iron teeth and flaming red eyes began to circulate among the locals. Someone claimed that the beast had strangled two boys to death before draining their blood and feasting on the flesh, and the story spread like wildfire from then on.
Though the police claimed to have no knowledge of the missing boys, the children of the Gorbals decided their only hope was to take matters into their own hands. So, for three nights straight, a team of over 200 children aged between just 4 and 14, each one armed with knives, bats, homemade stakes or crucifixes descended on the Necropolis intending to hunt down the legendary Gorbals Vampire.
While most people believe that the story was entirely inspired by an American comic book, others are convinced that the Iron-toothed beast still creeps among the headstones of the cemetery he calls home.
3. Lochmaben Castle Vampire - Lochmaben, Dumfries and Galloway
Professional ghost hunter, Tom Robertson has spent his entire adult life getting up close and personal with the afterlife, but nothing he has ever encountered quite compares to what he saw in the ruins of Lochmaben Castle.
It's worth noting that just like every other Scottish castle, Lochmaben is also steeped in gory history. So, it's probably not all that surprising that stories of its wicked hauntings have been spoken about for decades. Vampires, however, are an entirely different story, but nonetheless, Robertson insists he came face to face with one back in 1991.
After hearing tales from panic-stricken locals who described woodland creatures that had been found drained entirely of their blood, Robertson decided to investigate the site for himself. Soon after wandering into the lush, green forests near the castle ruins, he met the culprit. Just 15ft from him was a ''walking, decomposing corpse'' with grey, almost translucent skin, black eyes and it was dressed in a black hood - Voldemort eat your heart out! According to Robertson, the creature suddenly took flight and glided between the trees like ''Tarzan on steroids''.
Eight years later, Robertson returned to Lochmaben, but this time he was more prepared to hunt the creature down. His trip was successful, and he even managed to capture the vampire on camera. However, in a statement, he later said: “I never went back to Lochmaben. Nor should you. There is a creature slinking around in those woods, baying for blood.”
4. The Evil Monk Of Melrose Abbey - Melrose, Roxburghshire
Founded in 1136, Melrose Abbey was one of several Cisterian monasteries to be built along the Scottish borders. But as well as being the final resting place of many famous kings and nobles, these religious grounds are famous for a far more sinister reason.
In the 12th century, Melrose Abbey was home to a priest who was never popular among his religious brethren, to say the least. He was known for constantly breaking the rules, and the other monks had even gone so far as to nickname him Hunderprest, due to fact he would always go hunting with dogs rather than dedicate his time to God like them. When he died in the spring of 1196, he was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery - but he was far from being at peace.
Each night following his demise, Hunderprest would rise from his tomb to wander the grounds. He would often awaken the other priests with his constant wailing, but even more terrifyingly he was also known to drink the blood of the nuns.
Realising that their prayers and pleas for help were never going to be answered, a group of priests gathered around the creature's grave one night. This time, when the former priest climbed from his grave, the living monks were ready and waiting with a huge axe which they used to behead the undead beast. The following morning when they returned to the tomb, blood was still flowing from Hunderprest's wound. The body was then removed, cremated and his ashes were scattered in the wind.
5. Vampire Attack In Edinburgh - Princes Street, Edinburgh
On the 23rd of November, sometime around the year 1900, a man named Geoffrey Anderson was walking home late in the evening when he witnessed something very unusual.
Between Princes Street and Hanover Street, a horse and cart were stood outside a shop. The only light in the street came from within the shop, but Geoffrey was able to make out a large creature crawling from a drain across the street. He couldn't see its legs, but it began to change shape right before his eyes before making its way towards the horse at a rapid speed.
The creature lunged for the horse's neck and began to feed, which spurred Geoffrey and another bystander to step in and help the animal. The bloodthirsty beast disappeared almost instantly, and the horse, though still afraid, was unharmed.
6. Murdered By A Vampire? - Inverleith, Edinburgh
The 1915 murder of medical student, Andrew Muir remains unsolved to this day, but the circumstances surrounding his death have led many to question whether it was a human that took his life or something else entirely.
Around the time of his untimely death, Andrew was said to have been investigating the paranormal activity within the William Brien house hotel. During this time, several staff and visitors had reportedly seen an ''evil apparition'' during their time in the building that watched their every move. Unsurprisingly, most of them left the hotel and never returned.
But acting on a dare from his friends, Andrew asked the owners if it would be possible for him to hold a midnight seance in the room with the most activity. They agreed to his bizarre request and left him with a bell which he was told to ring if he needed anything. Sure enough, a few hours into the seance, the bell began to chime loudly, followed by one blood-curdling scream.
When the owners entered the room, they found Andrew's lifeless body with two bleeding puncture wounds in his neck. Many believe the murder was the work of the apparition, who they claim is the late William Brien, A.K.A. the previous owner of the house. It was said that after his passing, Brien was buried 40ft down in a secured coffin, as per his strict instructions - but no one ever knew why he had made these strange demands. Could it be that he was afraid of becoming a vampire?
7. Glamis Castle's Secret Vampires - Glamis, Angus
Built in the 14th century, Glamis Castle is one of the oldest inhabited castles in Scotland, and even the land it was built on is rich with prehistoric creations from the Picts. But don't be fooled by its fairytale charm. Among the living resides a group of malevolent spirits, some who have ancestral ties to the castle, and others who do not.
Besides ghosts though, Glamis Castle also has two creepy vampire legends.
The first vampire account was recorded some hundred years ago after one of the female servants was discovered drinking the blood from an unknown victim. As punishment for her crime, the woman was allegedly walled up inside a hidden chamber in the castle while she was still alive. Some believe she is still in there, waiting to be released.
Another tale mentions the birth of a 'monstrous' child in the early 1800s who was so deformed that he wasn't expected to live for very long. As a result, he was kept locked away in a room for much of his life, with very few people ever knowing about his existence.
But to everyone's shock (and horror) the 'monster' lived a very long life until he eventually passed away sometime between 1921 and 1941. More interestingly, many believe the secret of Glamis is that the child was a vampire, and each generation of the family is 'cursed' to have one.
8. Baobhan Sith - Scottish Highlands
In traditional Scottish folklore, Baobhan Sith (pronounced baa'van shee) or 'White Women' are said to roam the Highlands. These female vampires are often described as wearing long green dresses to conceal their deer hooves which they are believed to have instead of human-like feet. Some of them even have the ability to take the form of hooded crows or ravens instead of bats!
Much like succubus and sirens, Baobhan Sith will often use their beauty to lure in their victims and once captured, they will drain them of their blood. Just like regular vampires, they are sensitive to sunlight and will spend their days lying in wait for their next hapless victims to appear.
In previous years, many hunters claimed to have been approached by Baobhan Sith while out in the woods after dark. One account was written by folklorist, Donald Alexander Mackenzie where he described how four men were violently attacked after taking refuge in a remote hut for the night. While playing music and dancing around the hut, the men had expressed a desire for female companionship, and just like that, four beautiful women showed up at the door.
Three of them danced, while the fourth took a seat beside the musician but soon things started to go wrong. The musician began to notice spots of blood dropping from his friends onto the floor, and wasting no time he bolted from the hut and hid among the horses. When the sun came up, the women disappeared, but unfortunately, his friends weren't so lucky and upon entering the hut the musician found that all three of the other men had been drained of their blood.
Now it's your turn! Do you think vampires are real or are they just fantastical legends that were made up to scare people? Feel free to spam the comments section below with any thoughts or theories you have surrounding any of these tales.
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