Scottish Myths and Legends for Kids Visiting Edinburgh

The number of visitors to our beautiful city is on the increase and it’s no surprise why. Our picturesque landscapes and remarkable historical buildings are wonderful to behold, and we’ve got a number of world-famous tourist attractions that are sure to have adults entertained for days.


Keeping the kids happy on a holiday which involves a lot of walking, eating and drinking however, that is another story. Luckily, as the well-established city that it is, Edinburgh – and the whole of Scotland – also has a whole lot of grisly history, some of which is true and some which is highly debatable!


There’s no better way to capture a child’s interest than with spooky stories and tales of legendary heroes! These Scottish myths and legends will be enough to convince the most indoorsy kids to head out on an adventure.


Make sure you’ve packed your light cardigans and a hooded coat just in case though – the one thing we can never promise is perfect weather!


The Lost Bagpiper

Several hundred years ago, a set of tunnels were newly discovered underneath Edinburgh Castle, and naturally, the people of the time wanted to investigate.


To find out exactly where the tunnels led to, and presumably to ensure there wasn’t any danger to speak of, a young bagpiper boy was sent into the tunnels, and told to loudly play his instrument. That way, they could follow his progress from above.


However, about halfway down the Royal Mile, the bagpipes stopped suddenly, and a search party was sent down to recover the boy. They scoured the tunnels but sadly, the bagpiper was never seen again. Supposedly though, the sounds of his phantom bagpipes still haunt the castle to this day, as he wanders endlessly through the tunnels…


The Sins of Major Weir

Have you ever heard the story of Major Weir? He was a sinister man, who regularly dressed in a black cloak and carried a staff. He lived out the majority of his days in West Bow, Edinburgh with his unmarried sister.

The legend differs between retellings, however it seems that after the Major became ill, he began to admit to criminal behaviour, including witchcraft and even murder. He was later executed for his links to black magic, as was his sister, however people still claim to hear jovial ghosts talking and laughing in the area that their house used to stand on.

Some say Thomas Weir has also been seen, spookily dressed in his dark cloak and carrying that familiar staff…


The Green Lady

The Green Lady of Craighouse, Craiglockhart Hill was known in her life as Elizabeth Pittendale. A young lady, Elizabeth was married to the much older Sir Thomas Elphinstone when she and his son John fell in love.


Once they were discovered, Sir Thomas killed Elizabeth in his fury and killed himself too – though his son escaped. It is said that The Green Lady’s miserable ghost haunted the house for years, until her remains were moved away from those of her husband. Years later when John died, his remains were reunited with hers…


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Half-Hangit Maggie  

A death sentence didn’t mark the end of Half-Hangit Maggie’s life – even after she was executed. It seems that Miss Dickinson, who was charged with covering up her pregnancy in 1724, came back to life when she was inside her coffin, on her way to being buried.


As she’d received the punishment she was sentenced to, she was allowed to live. What a relief for Maggie!

Sawney Bean

The story of Sawney Bean is set in Girvan rather than Edinburgh, but it is infamous in Scotland and one of our favourites on this list – despite being widely acknowledged as a myth!


The tale goes that Sawney was the head of a bloodthirsty family of cannibals, living in a cave during the reign of King James VI of Scotland. Sawney, his wife, their 14 children and 32 grandchildren murdered up to 1000 people – who were travelling in the wrong place at the wrong time – before pickling and eating them. Delicious!


King James was eventually made aware of the situation and he took hundreds of men into the caves to help him track them down…

Image Credit: Mary and Angus Hogg, Geograph


Is your favourite Scottish legend on our list? Chat to us about everything Edinburgh on our Facebook page now!Shop outerwear for men and women over at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill today, for your next trip to the capital of Scotland.