The bauchan is a type of domestic hobgoblin in Scottish folklore. It is often mischievous and sometimes dangerous but can be very helpful when the need arises.
Callum Mor MacIntosh and the Bauchan
John Francis Campbell writes in his book ‘Popular Tales of the West Highlands’ of a farm in Lochaber that was frequented by a mythical bauchan. The owner of the farm was one Callum Mor MacIntosh. The farmer developed a peculiar relationship with the brownie. The creature would often help out with daily grind around the farm, but could also become quarrelsome and start fights with Callum.
Being a magical creature, the bauchan was a shapeshifter who often adopted the guise of a stubborn goat to underscore its wilful disposition. One conflict between Callum and the creature is said to have started over a handkerchief, which was a treasured gift given to Callum by his wife. Deeming the kerchief a suitable recompense for his labours the bauchan staked a claim to it. However, Callum refused to part with the gift and told the brownie that if he wished to own the handkerchief then he would have to take it from him. A strenuous struggle ensued with the bauchan successfully taking the kerchief. Later, perhaps feeling remorseful, the brownie returned the handkerchief. This highlights the dual nature of this mythical creature.
Moving to New York
The complex nature of the bauchan was seen during one particularly bad winter. Callum’s farm had been cut off from the surrounding area by a horrific snowstorm and he was unable to gather wood for his fire. Upon seeing the plight of the farmer, the brownie felled a great tree to provide enough firewood for Callum and his family to see them through the harsh winter storm. Callum and his family emigrated to New York. However, the creature followed them there, persisting in its eccentric routine of helpfulness and confrontation as it always had. The bauchan helped Callum clear his new land but also fought him when the mood took him.
Bauchan (pronounced “baw-khin”)
The bauchan is a small and mischievous mythical creature from Scottish folklore. It is often described as a small, impish being with a hunched back, long pointy ears, and sharp teeth. Its appearance varies depending on the local folklore, but it is generally portrayed as a creature resembling a cross between a goblin and a gnome.
This brownie is believed to inhabit rural and remote areas of Scotland, particularly in forests, caves, and other secluded places. It is said to be elusive, often avoiding human contact.
The bauchan is known for its playful and mischievous behaviour. It enjoys playing pranks on humans and animals, such as stealing food, hiding belongings, and leading travellers astray in the woods. While this mythical creature is not considered inherently evil, its tricks can be bothersome and vexing to those it encounters. However, it has a complex personality often oscillating from being benevolent to being willful and argumentative.
The bauchan is a type of hobgoblin or brownie. However, a more aggressive variant of the bauchan exists. This is known as Coluinn gun Chean.
Bauchan Location in Scotland:
The bauchan is primarily associated is said to roam the remote and wooded regions of Scotland. It is often associated with farmhouses.