I love the TV show Sleepy Hollow and I enjoyed the movie with Johnny Depp. However, in doing research for this month’s A-Z challenge, I was surprised to know there are more and older versions of The Headless Horseman besides our colonial and Ichabod Crane.
A headless horseman maybe be from the middle ages and may not have originated in America.
“The Irish dullahan or dulachán (“dark man”) is a headless fairy, usually riding a black horse and carrying his head under one arm (or holding it high to see at great distance). He wields a whip made from a human corpse’s spine. When the dullahanstops riding, a death occurs. The dullahan calls out a name, at which point the named person immediately perishes. In another version, he is the headless driver of a black carriage. A similar figure, the gan ceann (“without a head”), can be frightened away by wearing a gold object or casting one in his path.
The most prominent Scottish tale of the headless horseman concerns a man named Ewen decapitated in a clan battle at Glen Cainnir on the Isle of Mull. The battle denied him any chance to be a chieftain, and both he and his horse are headless in accounts of his haunting of the area.”1
One is set near Dresden in eastern Germany. In this tale, a woman from Dresden goes out early one Sunday morning to gather acorns in a forest. At a place called “Lost Waters”, she hears a hunting horn. When she hears it again, she turns around she sees a headless man in a long grey coat sitting on a grey horse.
In another German tale, set in Braunschweig, a headless horseman called “the wild huntsman” blows a horn to warn hunters not to ride the next day, because they will meet with an accident.”1
I guess it’s safe to assume just because you aren’t in America, doesn’t mean the headless horseman can’t find you.
- The Dullahan – Ireland’s Headless Horseman at Scary For Kids
- The Dullahan at Shee-eire.com
- McKillop, James A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, 2004, cited at gan ceann, encyclopedia.com
- Fox, David The Headless Horseman at Federated Caledonian Societies South Africa