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For other uses, see Redcap (disambiguation).
Hermitage Castle, home of Robin Redcap

A red cap or redcap, also known as a powrie or dunter, is a type of malevolent murderous dwarf, goblin, elf or fairy found in Border Folklore. They are said to inhabit ruined castles found along the border between England and Scotland. Redcaps are said to murder travellers who stray into their homes and dye their hats with their victims' blood (from which they get their name).[1] Redcaps must kill regularly, for if the blood staining their hats dries out, they die. Redcaps are very fast in spite of the heavy iron pikes they wield and the iron-shod boots they wear. Outrunning a redcap is supposedly impossible.

They are depicted as sturdy old men with red eyes, taloned hands, and large teeth, wearing a red cap and bearing a pikestaff in the left hand.[2]

The tale of one in Perthshire depicts him as being kinder; living in a room in Grantully Castle, he bestows good fortune on those who see or hear him.[2]

The Kabouter, or redcaps of Dutch folklore, are very different, and more akin to brownies.[2]

Robin Redcap and William de Soulis[edit]

The redcap familiar of Lord William de Soulis, called "Robin Redcap", is said to have wrought much harm and ruin in the lands of his master's dwelling, Hermitage Castle. Ultimately, William was (according to legend) taken to the Ninestane Rig, a circle of stones by the castle, then wrapped in lead and boiled to death.[3] In reality, William De Soulis was imprisoned in Dumbarton castle and died there, following his confessed complicity in the conspiracy against Robert the Bruce in 1320.

Popular culture[edit]

  • Red caps are mentioned by Professor Lupin in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling, also appearing in the eponymous video game.
  • Recap is a mob genus found within the Dark Age of Camelot Midgard realm.[4]
  • A redcap (referring to himself as "the redcap" of the legends) appears in Cold Days, the fourteenth book of Jim Butcher's fantasy series, The Dresden Files. In his human form, the redcap wears a Cincinnati Reds baseball cap to represent his true nature.
  • A group of red caps are among the enemies faced in the comic book series Mage: The Hero Discovered.
  • The Hellboy story "Iron Shoes" has a red cap as the antagonist.
  • In the movie and video game versions of The Spiderwick Chronicles, there is a redcap that serves as 2nd in command of an army of goblins.
  • In the video game Wizard101, red caps are both an enemy and pet.
  • In the video game "Fable Legends", there is an enemy creature named the Redcap. Instead of dyeing its hat with the blood of victims, it is dyed with their own, through the nails that they hammer into each other's skulls.[5]
  • The Monster in My Pocket toy line includes Redcap as one of many toy figure characters.
  • In the video game Dragon's Crown, the red cap is a stronger version of the enemy character named Goblin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Briggs, Katherine M. (1967). The Fairies in English Tradition and Literature. London: University of Chicago Press. p. 57. OCLC 712523.
  2. ^ a b c Briggs, Katherine M. (1976). A Dictionary of Fairies. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 339. ISBN 0-14-004753-0. 
  3. ^ Mack, James Logan (1926). The Border Line. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd. p. 146.
  4. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Fable Legends:Redcaps".