The Ankou (Breton), Ankow (Cornish) or Angau (Welsh) from Celtic legend most commonly occurs in Brittany. Here you can still spot the Ankou haunting many of the churches and cathedrals. What is the Ankou? It’s defiant remnant of Pagan influence that had survived hidden among the stone-work of Christian buildings.
The Ankou haunts the graveyard and he is the last soul to die in the village before the stroke of midnight that year. Doomed to stay another year on earth – he acts as guardian of the graveyard – until another soul takes his place the following year.
The Ankou is described as a tall man dressed in black who is very thin or skeletal looking and has white hair kept under a wide brimmed hat. He is carries a scythe and he either pushes a wheelbarrow or rides a rickety cart that squeaks when it moves. The horse-drawn cart may be drawn by two horse – one is emaciated while the other is fat.
The Ankou is both the harbinger of death and also the collector of souls.