THE creators of popular illustrated maps of local areas’ mythical beasts have praised the “amazing” people in Scotland – and questioned why it took them so long to move north of the Border.

Since relocating from the big city to a remote spot in Dumfries and Galloway, Neil and Charley Parkinson said they’d been relishing the challenges presented by running a business from there.

“Something we wanted when we moved here was to be challenged, both by our work and our environment,” they told The National. “When you're challenged, you are often surprised too.”

“We've had several storms and long blackouts, but managed to work around them.”

The National:

Their Puca Printhouse business “set itself up” after the success of the first map, they say. Created in December 2020, this showed the whole of Britain and Ireland and a selection of mythical beasts, “and it all took off from there”.

Maps of the United States, Ancient Greece, Scandinavia, Ireland, and France followed.

Their map of Scotland then went viral at the end of January after it was shared on Twitter, gathering more than 2000 shares and almost 10,000 “likes” – despite Shetland having to be relocated to east of Wick in order to fit.

Asked how they had researched the myriad monsters drawn across the nation, Parkinson said it had been “fairly easy” due to the wealth of books on the topic.

“You are spoiled for choice,” he said. “The hardest part of the Scotland map was cutting down the list.”

On the viral social media post, users picked out their favourite mythical monsters, highlighting the Nuckalavee in Orkney, the Sith on Skye, and the Great Hand, which allegedly lives in a tunnel below the Royal Mile.

The Parkinsons said they are personally “quite partial to a trickster [like] the Bogle in Scotland whose main objective is just to perplex mankind”.

The pair said they had named their business after the Puca, a shape-changing trickster from Irish folklore.

“They're a bit of a palate cleanser if you've just had to dig through a few hundred pages of something quite dark, upsetting or challenging like the history of changelings,” they said.

“A dark one from Scotland that we enjoyed was ‘Big Ears’ and the history of Taghairm – a bit bleak, but fascinating and certainly an interesting read.”

Big Ears is the mythical demonic god of cats, which appeared after a Taghairm ceremony. This involved roasting successive cats alive on spits for four days and nights until Big Ears appeared and granted the wishes of the torturers.

But the Parkinson’s said they’ve had a rather more friendly experience since arriving in Scotland, with the kindness of locals having them question if they weren’t fairy folk.

“We got here just in time for Storm Arwen and were without power for a week,” they said. “Our neighbours were dropping down hot water, camp stoves, and just being a really supportive community.

“Similarly, when we lost a tyre to a pothole on a country lane, we'd barely stepped out of the car door when people appeared out of nowhere to help. Maybe they were the fairy folk, but I haven't heard of any accounts of them driving tractors!”

Parkinson said it “just feels right” to be living in Scotland. “We feel so settled and at home here that we question why it took us so long to make the move,” he went on.

“We have such a beautiful environment to live and work in, an abundance of wildlife which visit our garden for food, a sense of community and belonging. We really do feel so fortunate to be here.”

Puca Printhouse’s designs can be found on their website here. The pair said they hope to produce jigsaws, tea towels, and even books going forward.