Mythical Monday: The Redcap by Mae Clair

bigstock-Spooky-Castle-8290225Malevolent spirits are always a hot button topic during the days leading up to Halloween.

The ghastly creature I’d like to introduce you to today will never be mistaken for anything less than monstrous. Though not exceptionally tall, the redcap is a murderous goblin that secrets himself in the crumbling ruins of old castles along the border between England and Scotland. This heinous creature derives its name from the red cap on his head, the color achieved by soaking the hat in human blood.

It is the goblin’s lot in life to constantly seek new victims for should their cap dry out, their life will end. Because they must constantly kill to remain alive, they often move from castle to watchtower or any pile of crumbling stone that may provide temporary residence and shelter them from witchfinders and exorcists.

From a distance, a redcap may be mistaken for a stocky old man with a gray beard, but there is nothing arthritic about their movements. These vile creatures are capable of remarkable speed even though they shod their feet with iron boots. Possessed of burning red eyes, lethally pointed teeth and eagle claws in place of hands, they are the spawn of nightmares. Some tales say they carry a pikestaff or scythe to aid in killing. Small in stature, they have incredible strength and can easily overpower a grown man.

After making a kill, the goblin will drink his victim’s blood then dip his cap in what remains, renewing its crimson hue. It is impossible to outrun or even out power a redcap, but like most creatures of faerie, they are not without weakness. Brandishing a crucifix will send them fleeing, and reciting any passage from the Bible aloud will make them disappear instantly.

One of the things that fascinate me most about folklore is how even those creatures that seem indestructible at first glance always have some type of fatal fragility. Thank goodness for Bible verses and crucifixes! I would not want to meet a redcap even on Halloween.

What about you? *queue spooky music*

25 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Redcap by Mae Clair

    • He’ll make a great Halloween presentation, Sue!

      Because of doing NaNoWriMo in November, I actually have all of my Mythical Monday blog posts written, formatted, and scheduled through December 16th. The Jersey Devil is the subject of my November 4th post 🙂


  1. Eeek! Definitely wouldn’t want to run across one of these guys! It doesn’t get much creepier than this one. I notice the similarities with vampires, the need for human blood, thwarted by crucifixes. Makes me wonder: who came first, the vampire or the redcap goblin? Much different than the chicken or the egg question 😉


    • LOL! Great question, L.J. As I was writing this post, I was thinking of the similarities between the too as well. It seems like many creatures of folklore are thwarted by the same items or crave the same things (like human blood). Those poor early villagers – – everything and everyone set out to prey on them once the sun set! 😀


    • That would definitely be a nasty fate! I guess once you’ve been snacked on by a Redcap, you’re finished, LOL. It is interesting to wonder what gave this particular strain of goblin birth. Maybe a curse? There seemed to be a lot of them tossed around in the “old days!”

      I’m with you on the shudder, Debbie!


    • Another castle visitor! You and Daisy have me jealous thinking about those beautiful castles and crumbling ruins over there. One of the downsides of America being such a young country.

      Yep, pack the crucifix just to be safe 🙂


    • Interesting thing….apparently any bible verse works, New Testament or Old. Vile creatures. I guess the sound of scripture spoken aloud sends them fleeing in terror or robs them of power so they instantly vanish.

      I have a feeling villagers in the area were probably extremely well-versed in scripture! 🙂


    • Also weird that creatures of Faerie were usually fearful of iron, yet this nasty guy made his boots from it.

      I’m with you, Sheri. I’d be hightailing it for the countryside. Great to see you here! 🙂


  2. Mae,

    You always have something interesting and unique. I’ve only heard of them once before, in Laurell K Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry Series. Creepy. Nice job.


  3. It’s amazing how many creepy creatures abound in story and mythology. I learn something new every time I read your blog, Mae. Thanks for sharing. It’s gotten me closer the Halloween mood now that back in my routine again.


    • Hi, Stanalei! I’m in Halloween mode too. I love myth and folklore any time of year but October is extra perfect for examining all the weird creatures and legends out there. Thanks for checking out the redcap!


  4. It’s funny what great beasts can be bested by in lore. Just a line of The Bible? Wow. Love how eerie they sound. Great pre-Halloween post. 🙂


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