FANTASIC FRIDAY: The Redcap of the Boarderlands

redcapThe more I write and discover the kinds of stories I want to tell, the more I find fantasy and folklore fascinating. So, every Friday I want to share something I’ve discovered that fellow fantasy writers might enjoy. They’ll either be a creature from folklore around the world or a lesser-known fairy tale. Once I get more short stories done, I might share those, but to start off, here’s a creature I’ve become rather fond of since including him in one of my upcoming novels: The Redcap.

This malicious faerie was said to inhabit abandoned castles in the Borderlands between England and Scotland, waiting for travelers to lose their way and seek out shelter for the night in their domain. Then they would murder the poor traveler with the iron staff  in its gnarly, talon-like hand. If the traveler had his wits about him and managed to spot the creature’s red eyes within the shadows of the castle, praying would do him more good than running. According to legend, it was impossible to outrun a redcap.

With the unfortunate stranger dead, the redcap would dye its hat in his blood, hence where the creature gets its name. It had better hope that travelers get rather often because if a redcap’s hat dries out, it would die.

While not a popular figure, redcaps do make appearances from time to time. They pop up in Holly Black’s Tithe and In the Darkest Part of the Forest, Hermione Granger makes mention of them in Prisoner of Azkaban, and they even show up in an episode or two of Supernatural, but, despite the terror they could inflict, they’re not featured often in contemporary fantasy.

That’s no reason to be careless, however. Their being so unknown may simply be that they’re craftier than other creatures. If you ever find yourself near abandoned buildings of any sort, especially after dark, use caution. We’d hate to have you become part of a fashion statement.  


Originally posted on Cheap Reads on Oct 4, 2016.

Image found here




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