Beasts of Seamaid
Also known as: Bears, Wolves,Lynx, Foxes, Wild Cats,
The Celts believed in animal spirits and that each animal represented certain human qualities, either for good or evil. They wove stories and legends around the animals they saw living in the forests around them. The beasts of the Isle are the things that are perfectly capable of killing you.Some may speak if they are enchanted, some might just eat you quietly.
Brown Bears are massive, heavy built animals but they can vary significantly in size depending on sex, age, geographic location and season. Brown bears are omnivorous, feeding on fruit, roots, insects, mammals and carcasses. Hibernation lasts from around October/December to March/May.
They are solitary except during mating season.
FolkloreThe Celts venerated the bear goddess, Artio - like a mother bear she was a fiercely protective influence. The bear god Artaois is closely linked to the warrior-king, Arthur; with his legendary strength and fighting prowess, Arthur's name and emblem both represent this animal. Celtic families would often have their own animal totem, a tradition that is still evident in the family name McMahon, which means 'son(s) of the bear'.
Grey Wolf: highly territorial and a social animal, whose basic pack structure consists of a mated pair, accompanied by the pair's adult offspring.The average pack consists of a family of 5–11 animals (1–2 adults, 3–6 juveniles and 1–3 yearlings),or sometimes two or three such families, though exceptionally larger packs are not unheard of, they generally establish territories far larger than they require to survive in order to assure a steady supply of prey.
FolkloreFolk stories portray wolves in two quite different lights: on the one hand they were regarded as symbols of evil and the wolf was believed to be the lord of the dead (even though it was thought to be frightened of shrimps and crabs!); on the other hand, the Celts believed the wolf would help travelers who had lost their way, guiding them back to safety
Red Foxes: are usually together in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties. The young of the mated pair remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits.They hunt small rodents, but do hunt hare or rabbits, game birds, reptiles, bugs and baby animals. Fruit and vegetable are also eaten sometimes.Although foxes tends to kill smaller predators, it is vulnerable to attack from larger predators, such as wolves,and medium- and large-sized felines
FolkloreIn most countries, the fox is almost always portrayed as a cunning and clever animal, outwitting animals stronger and more powerful than itself (such as bears, wolves and lions), or using its cunning to trap its prey.The Celts were thought to worship the fox for its fiery coat and cunning nature and there is evidence of this in Celtic burials - Lindow Man, whose body was found perfectly preserved in a peat bog after he was ritually murdered during the first millennium BC, was wearing nothing but a fox fur armlet.
Lynx: is the third largest predator in Europe after the brown bear and the grey wolf. It is a strict carnivore,is usually solitary, although a small group of lynx may travel and hunt together occasionally. these cats create dens in crevices or under ledges. It feeds on a wide range of animals from white-tailed deer, reindeer, roe deer, small red deer, and chamois, to smaller, more usual prey: snowshoe hares, fish, foxes, sheep, squirrels, mice, turkeys and other birds, and goats. It also eats ptarmigans, voles, and grouse.The lynx inhabits forests with dense cover of shrubs, reeds, and tall grass. Although this cat hunts on the ground, it can climb trees and can swim swiftly, catching fish.
European wildcat: Far back in the history of Scotland, the earliest settlers told legends about wildcats so fierce they bested human champions, and worshiped them as forest spirits. Centuries later, clans formed together under the image of the wildcat and fought wars for the independence of the land. Like most felines Scottish wildcats are solitary and active at dawn and dusk when hunting or marking territory. They rest up in hidden thickets, dens or forests by day and patrol and hunt over territories which can vary dependent upon prey density and habitat. Males and females come together solely to mate early in the year, for the rest of their lives the cats are alone.
The cat was revered by many Gaelic tribes and Caithness in Scotland was apparently named after the Catti, or cat people, clan, who lived on the ness, or promontory, of the cats. Warriors wore wild cat skins, still with the heads, draped over their helmets. In Scottish legend cats were
used to foretell the future during taghgairm, a cruel practice which involved roasting a live cat over a fire until other cats arrived to rescue it by answering any questions put to them.
Reintroducing Large Carnivores to Britain
Fact Sheet Bears
Wolves in Ireland
British Big Cats
The Mythology and Folklore of the Caledonian Forest