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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 more benign; 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]

Hermitage Castle, home of Robin Redcap

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]

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". Archived from the original on 2015-04-16.