One of my favourite myths is the headless horseman. My father swears blind to seeing something of this effect, something my mother loved to amuse me with by saying it was a product of a late night trip to the local pub in Lancashire.

The Irish version of this legend is the Dullahan, a headless fairy with a black horse that carries his head under his arm. The creature has a whip made from the spine of a human corpse and if the dullahan stops riding a death occurs. He will call out that person’s name and they will perish instantly.

A prominent story about this from Scotland is about a man named Ewen, he was decapitated in a clan battle at Glen Cainnir, the Isle of Mull. The battled denied him his chance to be a chieftain and so both he and his horse ride the area. The horse is also described as headless.

Brothers Grimm, German Legends, recount two tales of a headless horseman. One in Dresden and another in Brunswick. In Dresden the woman goes out early one Sunday morning to get acorns in the forest, she comes to a place called “Lost Waters” and heard a hunting horn. When she hears it again she sees a headless man in a long grey coat on a grey horse. In Brunswick the “wild horseman” blows a horn that warns hunters they should not ride the next day, they will meet with an accident if they do.  Some versions have him riding out with a pack of black hounds that have tongues of fire.

A film that has covered this very well is Sleepy Hollow, the horseman and his horse look fantastic and the gothic shooting of the film makes this a wonderful horror classic.

In gaming I particularly enjoy World of Warcraft’s version (and Skyrim too for that matter), a direct reference to the Halloween events they have the headless horseman. The headless horseman was a knight who became cursed and is of the belief that he is alive and those who face him are dead.  When he is defeated he is revealed as Thomas Tomson. The cursed man seems to suffer from the opposite of Walking Corpse Syndrome… once defeated by a group of hardy adventurers the poor man begs for forgiveness.

The player summons the horseman with a chant,

Horseman rise…

Your time is nigh…

You felt death once…

Now, know demise!

Instead of the black hounds he brings with him a rather cute looking army of pumpkins, and from the headless horseman you can steal his helm, his sword and even his horse!

Horseman Death

“This end have I reached before. What new adventure lies in store?”

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