The History of Leith

May 23, 2012

Shellycoat

superstitions for which Leith was famous of old
and perhaps the most quaint of these was connected
with a large rock, which lay on the site of these
new docks, and not far from the citadel, which was
supposed to be the seat, or abode, of a demon
called Shellycoat, a kind of spirit of the waters,
who, in the ” Traditions and Antiquities of Leith,”
has been described as “a sort of monster fiend,
gigantic, but ^indefinable, who possessed powers
almost infinite ; who never undertook anything, no
matter how great, which he failed to accomplish;
his swiftness was that of a spirit, and he delighted
in deeds of blood and devastation.”
Snellycoat, so named from his skin or garment
of shells, was long the bugbear of the urchins of
Leith, and even of their seniors; but in the new
dock operations his half-submerged rock was blown
up or otherwise removed, and Shellycoat, like the
Twelve o’clock Coach, the Green Lady, and the
Fairy Drummer, is now a thing of the past.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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