Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Spriggans


Spriggans is the name given to a family of fairies in Cornish folklore, they are the closely related to the Piskies, but were generally believed to be darker and more dangerous than their mischievous cousins. Whereas Piskies are generally described as being cheerful and fun loving, Spriggans are more spiteful and full of malice, directed at humans in the form of evil tricks.

It was believed that the Spriggans haunted the lonely places such as castle ruins, barrows, certain standing stones and windswept crags. Spriggans were thought to be the source of such misfortunes as blighted crops, bad weather and illness, especially in a time when the mechanics of such things were not fully understood. They were also want to steal small children and replace them with their own kind, a common trait in many of the fairy races of folklore.

In appearance the Spriggans are described as grotesquely ugly with wizened features and crooked skinny bodies. They form part of the fairy bodyguard as described by Bottrell and Hunt, ready to dish out summary justice to those who would harm their otherworldly cousins.

In this defensive respect they could expand from their diminutive stature to giant sized proportions. Some people even believed them to be the ghosts of giants, which were once thought to have roamed Cornwall in the time before time (see Bolster, and Cormoran).

One of their common traits was to lead lonely travellers into swamps or near to dangerous and crumbling cliffs, a factor they share in common with the Will o' the Wisp and the Piskies. Although the Piskies would not lead people to dangerous places.

by Daniel Parkinson