Arrowhead-shaped flints from the Stone Age
found in many parts of the British Isles, Europe and
northern Africa, which witches supposedly used as weapons
against animals and people. Elf-arrow superstitions
predominate in Ireland, Scotland and parts of England,
where fairy lore is strong (see fairies). According to lore,
many witches learn their craft from fairies and elves.
Elf arrows are said to be fatal to cattle, a common target
of witches. Stricken cattle can be saved by touching
them with the arrow, then dipping the arrow into water
and giving the water to the cattle to drink. The term elfshot
is still applied to sick animals.
A person shot with an elf arrow supposedly comes
down with mysterious and fatal supernatural illnesses.
The use of elf arrows was among the accusations of witchcraft
brought in 1560 against a Scottish woman, Catherine
Ross, Lady Fowllis, and her son-in-law, Hector Munro.
The two were part of a group of witches who conspired
to kill Ross’ husband and Marjory Campbell, Lady Balnagowan,
so that Ross and Lord Balnagowan could marry.
The witches were charged with “the making of two clay
pictures, one for the destruction of the young Lady Balnagowan,
and getting them enchanted, and shooting of elfarrow
heads at the said persons.” Apparently the witches’
plot was uncovered before the victims were killed.