The Wulver

The Wulver is an enigmatic figure in Scottish folklore, often seen in tales around the Shetland Isles. While the origins of the Wulver have been disputed in the modern day, people usually point to a particular set of stories set in Scotland as proof of its existence.

If you want to know more about the Wulver, you’ve come to the right place to learn what Shetland traditional lore writes about the ‘benevolent Scottish werewolf’.



The Wulver is described as a creature that’s half wolf and half man, similar to the folklore surrounding werewolves. In the tales from Shetland Traditional Lore, the Wulver has a man’s long, lanky body but the head of a wolf. Some speculate that this could be someone with Hunter syndrome from the 20th century.

The Wulver is sometimes considered an immortal spirit or a wolf and can often be seen fishing in streams and rivers. In most interactions, the Wulver has helped lost travellers back to their homes as long as they’re kind to him. But sometimes, the generous werewolf is less than generous and has been perceived as a sign of imminent death.

Folklore Traditions

As opposed to the conventional tales of werewolves, the Wulver of the Shetland Islands was said to be a benign and kind creature that would not harm people unless they harmed it first. However, there is some speculation towards the origins of this folklore.

One theory is that in the 1930s, the writer of Shetland Traditional Lore and Shetland folklorist Jesse Saxby invented the creation from her own imagination. She may have been inspired by the Faroese scholar Jakob Jakobsen, who researched the place names around the Shetland Isles. Jakobsen noted that there was an abundance of places beginning with “Wol-” in the area, including Wolvhul and Wolwul.

Jakobsen found that the prefix likely stemmed from the Old Norse word for fairy, “alf”. The word sounds like “wo” when pronounced out loud, and so many towns in the Shetland Isles are called fairy hill. Jesse Saxby took this pronunciation and created the Wulver and the Wulver’s Stane where it resides.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any mentions of the Wulver before Jesse’s version in the 1930s, which means that the Wulver doesn’t seem to have any long-standing history on the island.

Stories of Wulver

The only known story of the Wulver is recorded in the Shetland Traditional Lore by Jessie Saxby, which was recorded in the early twentieth century. There are no oral traditions that recount any sightings of the Wulver, but the story of Wulver in the book by Jessie Saxby is one of the most famous.

The Shetland Wulver

Jessie Saxby writes this about the Shetland Wulver, “The Wulver was a creature like a man with a wolf’s head. He had short brown hair all over him. His home was a cave dug out of the side of a steep knowe, halfway up a hill. He didn’t molest folk if folk didn’t molest him. He was fond of catching and eating fish and had a small rock in the deep water, which is known to this day as the “Wulver’s Stane”. There he would sit fishing sillaks and piltaks for hour after hour. He was reported to have frequently left a few fish on the window-sill of some poor body.”

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