Ech-Uisge, Kelpies, and Water-Horses

In 1823, William Grant Stewart published a collection of Scottish legends and superstitions that he had gathered from talking to friends in that country. Prominant among the tales he printed was one about a creature known as the 'Ech Uisque' -- or 'Each-Uisge' or 'Each Uisk', which translates as 'Water-Horse', also known as 'Kelpie' or 'Kelpy' -- which are beasts said to inhabit lakes and pools that were near roads in Scotland. While Stewart's tale was not the first mention in print of these Scottish monsters, his description of their nature has become the best known definition for the creatures.

        As Stewart tells it, the kelpie is a servant of the Biblical Devil, having cut a deal wherein the beast will drown people suddenly, preventing them from cleansing their souls before their deaths, thereby increasing the number of souls that would go to Hell and the Devil. The kelpie profitted from this arrangement also... it ate the bodies. But the arrangement wasn't a simple one; the kelpie was not allowed to just grab a passerby and drown them. The deal was only valid if the person chose to come to the kelpie of their own free will. To facilitate this the kelpie were shape-changers, and would assume whatever form would most likely allow them to attract their chosen prey. In olden times, the most commonly used disguise was that of a horse -- hence the name "Water-Horse" -- decked out in all the necessary gear for a rider to mount. People finding this horse grazing on the side of the road would assume it had escaped from a farm nearby, and avail themselves of the chance to shorten their walk (and acquire a fine steed). But as soon as the rider mounted, they were stuck in place as if by glue as the kelpie screamed out its victory and dove into the deepest waters of the nearest lake or pool... and thus ends Stewart's explanation of what a kelpie was said to be and do.

        Stewart's book of Scottish lore and tales proved popular enough for other authors to collect more tales over the next 110 years or so, many of which included more tales of water-horses, for the creatures were talked of all over Scotland both in legends and as a very real and deadly threat. Therefore, below is a list of both legends and accounts of actual encounters with the ech uisge, the water-horse, in chronological order by either date of first publication (if a Legend) or by date of occurrence (if an Anomalies report).

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