The United Kingdom's Fairy tales and folklore
Posted by Dan | Nov 28th, 2021 - 8:29pm
Our nations have a wonderful collection of fascinating mysteries and myths, everything from shadows in the dark to strange noises has developed over time into a full-blown tale of wonder (and perhaps a little bit of horror too). These amazing tales have contributed to the development of the world as we know it today, with some becoming tourist destinations in their own rights and others even making it onto the big screen. They inspire, stoke fear and sometimes even educate about the perils that may lie in the dark corners of our world. How well do you know them? This quiz starts off with some of the more well-known legends of our nations, ones that most folk may have heard of, perhaps as a bedtime tale, a ghost story amongst friends or through books, TV and film - but do you remember them all?
This legendary heroic outlaw is known from Nottinghamshire to Yorkshire as being the man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. The man, and his band of merry men, have been repeatedly shown in all forms of media and has been portrayed by everyone from Sean Connery to Errol Flynn with so many more in between. There is a whole cast of familiar names around this character, including the antagonist Sheriff and his Maid lover. Even if you are unfamiliar with the lore of this legend, you are almost certainly familiar with a green-clad man sporting a bow - he is even on the Nottinghamshire flag!
The legend of this British leader, a man who battled the Saxons by most accounts but potentially also cat-monsters, divine boards, giants, witches and, of course, dragons. His cast of surrounding characters and features are potentially equally famous, including a magician and even a legendary sword. His story is connected to both Cornwall and Wales with prominent links to real-life Tintagel as well as legendary places like Avalon - his final resting spot. His story is a true legend of the ages, and while this King may not have been real he is probably the best known British monarch of all time!
A staple of Dorset folklore, this towering figure is said to be the outline drawing of its real-life counterpart, he is said to have come from Denmark leading an invasion over the seas before the locals killed him as he slept on the hillside. The depiction we most recognise today is believed to be ancient in origin but its written history only dates back to the 17th century. Regardless of how he came to be, it certainly is an iconic part of the local area and paints a very vivid picture of a naked, club-wielding behemoth roaming Dorset.
These shapeshifting spirits are typically described as horse-like creatures that are able to adopt human form (with some accounts saying they retain their hooves in human form). Their origins are unknown, but as they are said to occupy almost every body of water in their native Scotland it is believed they were created to keep children away from dangerous stretches of water and warn young women to be wary of handsome strangers.
This question refers to no specific beasts of legend, but a group of common sightings all around the United Kingdom. These terrifying monsters may be real, supernatural, spectral or even demonic in nature. Examples exist in York, Aylesbury, Bodmin, Lyme Regis, Cannock Chase, Gurnsey and so many more - it's hard to understate just how prevalent this myth is. The creature may be associated with death, as they may have been guardians of the Underworld, but others are benevolent and even may act as guardians.
The living personification of frost, ice, snow and everything in-between, this man is responsible for colouring the leaves in autumn (quite literally, sometimes he is shown as having a bucket and paintbrush) and most notably nipping at your fingers and toes in colder weather. Depending on the legend, he can be considered a man of mischief, a hero and maybe not even a man; some legends show him as a sprite-like figure. His story has been told many times through media, in song or on screen, that you have almost certainly seen this chilly fellow.
Tracking the legend of this creature goes back some way, to earn such an honour as becoming the symbol for an entire nation isn't easily done but this spectacular beast is so iconic it deserves its legend. Legends from the Mabinogion by Lludd and Liefelys tells the story of it fighting his invading white counterpart before being imprisoned in Dinas Emrys. Other tales vary the story, but they are no less impressive and this beast has earned its place as a symbol of nations, rebellions and even the House of Tudor before finding its permanent home on its nation's flag.
We spoke about a legendary British leader previously, and briefly made mention of his magician friend. This mythical figure has seen many depictions throughout history, although he is quite often thought of in a long robe with a great big beard. He has also been attributed to other roles, including bard, prophet, advisor, warrior and of course a wizard. You'll have encountered his name if you have ever explored the caves beneath Tintagel, or watched heard Professor Slughorn exclaim it in Harry Potter.
This is another grouping of creatures rather than anyone specific creature, but one equally as wrapped in mystery as there are truths to it. These large beasts, sometimes phantoms but mostly seen as real, explore the British countryside occasionally even attacking passers-by. There have been documented sightings all over the United Kingdom, with famous cases dating back as far as the 1700s continuing all of the way into the modern era. What makes these beasties so frightening is that some have actually been caught! Examples include one from 1903 which now resides in the Bristol museum, one from 1980 in Scotland that is now on display in Inverness Museum and plenty more. There are far more mistaken sightings than real ones, of course, adding to the myth surrounding these great creatures - but to think some are actually real, really makes this a particularly bone-chilling piece of folklore.
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