Cornish Folklore

Cornish Folklore


 


1 Small people


2 Piskies


3 Browneys


4 Spriggans


5 Knockers


 


1      Small people


 


Barely knee-high and wear velvet and colourful clothes


Graceful and happy, and bright and beautiful. Fast runners but can ride hares. They wear jewels. They hold fairs and dances on the green or secluded pleasant places. Green lower garments, sky blue jackets, 3 cornered hats on the men, pointed ones for the ladies, all decked with lace and silver bells. Lovely as the flowers of the fields. They were good and showed kindness to people to whom they took a fancy and have been known to go into poor cottages, cheer up sick people and bring the smell of flowers.


 

The Lost Child of St Allen



A small boy was gathering wildflowers for his mum when he could hear music. It was like a tin whistle but it sounded so wonderful he followed where it came from. He found himself walking through a dark wood and finally he came to the edge of a lake. There he met a beautiful lady who led him underground, through a huge cave. It was built of pure quartz and there were pillars of glass.



Meanwhile the boy's parents were frantic, looking for him. Finally they found him asleep on some grass. They woke him up and he told them where he had been.

2 Piskies



Marc McBride has drawn a picture of a piskey in the novel, Across the Creek.


Read Across the Creek to see what a piskey may be like.



Piskeys can be very mischievous, luring people into difficult situations, and playing tricks. They also laugh a lot. If travellers lost their way they were said to be 'piskey-led'. People thought piskies led folks astray with lights that looked like lanterns. The Cornish had a great belief in piskies and many old Cornish believed that still-born babies became piskeys. It was believed some went 'beyond the seas' and it is this idea that I built upon in Across the Creek. What if they had come with the Cornish people to South Australia in the 1840s? 

Cornish Folklore

This is a piskey drawn by Marc McBride. I think  he has it just right. What do you think?  (Artwork used by permission).

3 Browneys


 


Browneys cleaned people's homes and often lived in homes with people though you couldn't see them unless you had magic ointment on your eyes.


 


4 The spriggans


 


Marc McBride has drawn a picture of a spriggan in my novel, Across the Creek.


 


The spriggans were warrior fairies, terribly ugly and some people thought they were the ghosts of giants and so they could grow bigger if they wanted to. They guarded gold and treasure and once a man saw their treasure and tried to steal it but swarms of the spriggans poured out of their hill and captured him and tied his hair down with cobwebs so he couldn't get up. A small spriggan danced on his nose until he shouted, 'Away away I smell the day.' And it ran off. At day break the man could shake himself free and went home.

Cornish Folklore

Here is an illustration of a spriggan by Marc McBride. (Used by permission).

5 Knockers


 


Robert Ingpen has painted a picture of a knocker in his book, Australian Gnomes, page 103.


 


The knockers were the sprites of the mines. The old Cornish believed they were the souls of Jews who formerly worked the tin nines of Cornwall.


 


See a story about the knockers at this site.