Elf Arrows (or Elf Bolts)

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Elf Arrows (or Elf Bolts)

The superstitious name given to small triangular flints, known as Belemnites, found in many countries, but notably in Scotland. It was believed that these stones were arrows shot by the elves, which usually prove fatal to cattlethe cure being to touch the cow with the arrow with which it had been hit and give it water in which the arrow had been dipped to drink.

In his book The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies (1691), Robert Kirk describes the fairy arrow as being tipped with yellow flint and states that it inflicts a mortal wound without breaking the skin. He also says that he examined such wounds. It is even on record that an Irish bishop was thus shot at by an evil spirit, and it was said that the arrows were manufactured by the devil with the help of attendant imps who rough-hewed them while the archfiend finished the work.

Cases are on record of elf arrows allegedly made and used by the witches of Scotland within historic times. In 1662 Isobel Gowdie confessed that she had seen such elf arrows made. Similar superstitions regarding these remnants of the Stone Age prevail in Italy, Africa, and Turkey.


Kirk, Robert. The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies. 1691. Reprint, London: D. Nutt, 1893.