Top 10 Scariest Creatures in European Folklore

Regardless of whether you celebrate Halloween in your country or not, you cannot help but be confronted with all kinds of creepy stories, movies and pictures. To share in the spooky atmosphere of the season, The AEGEEan has made a list of the top 10 scariest creatures in European folklore.


scary110. Wolpertinger, Germany

Legend has it that a mysterious creature roams the alpine forests of Bavaria. This animal is not particularly large or vicious, but nonetheless it can be quite scary to some people, because it looks incredibly uncanny.

There is no single definition of a Wolpertinger, except that it is amalgamation of different body parts of various animals. For instance, the head of a rabbit, the body of a squirrel, the legs of a pheasant, with antlers and wings. However, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Wolpertinger, is that some people have actually hunted down various woodland critters to create their own stuffed Wolpertingers.



scary29. Tatzelwurm, Austria

The Tatzelwurm is a man-size worm or snake with a feline face and a reptilian tale that lives underground in the eastern alps (in Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy, Bavaria, and Austria). In stories, it is not reported to be violent against people, unless you disturb it or its burrow. It is basically a Wolpertinger that is big enough to fight back, should you pose a threat.



8. Black Shuck, England

This creature is a ghostly, huge black dog with devilish red or green eyes that roams the countryside of East Anglia. Should you ever have the misfortune of encountering it, you will soon die, or at least become seriously ill. Looking the creature directly in the eyes means certain death.

Some say that the legend of Black Shuck may have been the inspiration for a similar creature in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. However, before you go to the East Anglian countryside with a shotgun, beware that there are also numerous stories in the region about large black dogs that actually help travellers get back home safely.



scary47. Basilisk, Southern Europe

Modern horror movies have truly spoiled us with grand ideas of the basilisk. When this creature was first described by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century A.D., it was nothing more than a very venomous snake, no more than twelve fingers in length.

Additionally, because legend says that a basilisk is created when a cockerel broods on a serpent’s or toad’s egg, the basilisk got drawn with more features of a rooster during the Middle Ages. Over time, the basilisk became larger and deadlier in many stories. Its corrosive venom, for instance, got replaced by a deadly gaze.



scary56. Koschei the Deathless, Ukraine & Russia

This creature is pretty much the Voldemort of Slavic Folklore. Koschei the Deathless, or Koschei the Immortal, is a villain who takes the form of a man with magical powers, who is so extremely thin that one can see his skeleton underneath his skin. It therefore, comes as no surprise that his name is derived from the Slavic word for bone, hinting at his skeletal appearance.

Just like Voldemort, you cannot kill him unless you destroy the needle that holds his soul, which is hidden in another object, which in turn is hidden in another etc. This, in true Slavic fashion, can only be described as Matryoshka Horcruxes.



scary65. White Wights, the Netherlands

Woe is he, who wanders the moors of the northern and eastern Netherlands at night. Stay away from the burial mounts, when a fog descends from them, for it is actually the White Wights (Witte Wieven in Dutch), the spirits of deceased woman, who roam the countryside at night.

In some stories, they are fortune tellers, who will be of service to anyone who seeks them out. In others, nobody who has ventured into the fog has ever been seen again.



scary74. Nuckelavee, Scotland

According to legend, the Nuckelavee is the scourge of the Orkney Islands. It is a devilish man, who like the creature in Frankenstein, is sewn onto the rotting corpse of a horse, and rises from the sea to terrorise and exterminate the people of the Orkney Islands.

The breath of this creature was reportedly so bad that it alone could wither entire crops and sicken livestock.



scary83. Strigoi, Romania

The Strigoi can best be described as ‘proto vampires’ when compared to beings such as Dracula or Carmilla. They are on the very crossroads of being vampires, spirits, and warlocks, because of their diverse nature.

Strigoi can roughly be divided into two categories: the “strigoi viu”, or living strigoi, and the “strigoi mort”, the dead strigoi. The living strigoi are sorcerers that, according to legend plague the countryside with deceased and death. The death strigoi, however, are more vampiric. They are the corpses that rise again from the grave after death in search of their victims.



scary92. Baubas, Lithuania

This creature is like the bogeyman on steroids: it’s a dark demon with piercing red eyes, long, thin arms, and wrinkly fingers, who will come and kidnap children who misbehave.

Nevertheless, what makes the Baubas truly horrific, is that this proverbial enemy is already inside the home, for the Baubas likes to hide under carpets or inside the dark crevices of your house.



scary101. Külmking, Estonia

The scariest creature on this list has to be the Külmking. This creature from Estonian mythology is something like the evil protector of the forest, eating children alive when they bother forest spirits. This creature, however, isn’t a good spirit on a bad day. It is the restless ghost of an unholy dead.

Because of this, you are running the risk of being harassed everywhere in the wild, for the Külmking does not have a fixed haunting place. To make matters worse, some stories tell that, if the Külmking goes through the body of someone, this person becomes evil. Thus potentially creating a legion of serial killers.


Written by Willem Laurentzen, AEGEE-Nijmegen