A representation of an Each Uisge
|Sub grouping||Water spirit|
Fresh water lochs
The each uisge (, literally "water horse") is a mythological Scottish water spirit, called the Aughisky in Ireland. It is similar to the kelpie, but far more dangerous.
The Each Uisge, a supernatural water horse found in the Highlands of Scotland, is supposedly the most dangerous water-dwelling creature in the British Isles. Often mistaken as the Kelpie (which inhabits streams and rivers), the each uisge lives in the sea, sea lochs, and fresh water lochs. The Each Uisge is a shape-shifter, disguising itself as a fine horse, pony, or handsome man. If, while in horse form, a man mounts it, he is only safe as long as the each uisge is ridden in the interior of land. But the merest glimpse or smell of water means the end of the rider: the each uisge's skin becomes adhesive and the creature immediately goes to the deepest part of the loch with its victim. After the victim drowned, the each uisge tears the victim apart and devours the entire body except for the liver, which floats to the surface.
In its human form it is said to appear as a handsome man, and can be recognised as a mythological creature only by the water weeds in its hair. Because of this, people in the Highlands were often wary of lone animals and strangers by the waters edge, near where the each uisge was reputed to live.
Along with its human victims, cattle and sheep were also often prey to the each uisge, and it could be lured out of the water by the smell of roasted meat. One story from McKay's More West Highland Tales runs thus:
- "A blacksmith from Raasay lost his daughter to the Each Uisge. In revenge the blacksmith and his son made a set of large hooks, in a forge they set up by the loch side. They then roasted a sheep and heated the hooks until they were red hot. At last a great mist appeared from the water and the Each Uisge rose from the depths and seized the sheep. The blacksmith and his son rammed the red-hot hooks into its flesh and after a short struggle dispatched it. In the morning there was nothing left of the creature apart from a jelly like substance. "
- Katharine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Boogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures, "Each uisge", p 115–6. ISBN 0-394-73467-X