Questions tagged [british]

For questions on the local folklore, myths, and legends found in Britain.

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23 votes
2 answers
1k views

Do Welsh fairies marry human women?

The Welsh Tylwyth Teg, or fairies, is said to take human mates. This website mentions how: There are many tales of intermarriage between faeries and humans, and advice on how to make sure you ...
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18 votes
1 answer
1k views

Who was Arthur's sword, Excalibur, returned to?

Most versions of the Arthurian legend relates that, after the Battle of Camlann, a dying King Arthur ordered a surviving knight - usually Sir Griflet or Sir Bedivere - to dispose of Excalibur in a ...
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16 votes
3 answers
3k views

Was there any figure considered to be evil in iron age Celtic paganism religion of England?

Before Christianization the Celts of England had a pagan religion. Was there any figure in that religion which was considered to be evil?
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16 votes
1 answer
364 views

Is there a connection between the use of the metaphor "black dog" for depression and the black dog of British folklore?

"The black dog" has been used as a metaphor for depression or sulking since at least 1790. Today it is used to denote depression and sometimes a broader range of mental illnesses. For example, in ...
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9 votes
1 answer
171 views

Does anything in the Matter of Britain ever explain or otherwise address Stonehenge?

Is there anything in the Matter of Britain (or, if I'm using that term wrong, medieval British mythology in general) that discusses Stonehenge? I'm curious, given how Stonehenge has captured the ...
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9 votes
2 answers
342 views

Why is it lucky to touch or knock on wood?

According to Project Britain's British Life and Culture it is lucky to touch wood: Lucky to touch wood. We touch; knock on wood, to make something come true. Where does this superstition come ...
  • 305
9 votes
1 answer
365 views

Arthurian legend English and French sources

Is it true, that most of early Arthurian books were written outside Britain, mostly in France? Why? As a proof, here is quote from William Caxton's preface to Le Morte d'Arthur, published in 1485: ...
6 votes
1 answer
236 views

What are the "nine fearful curses that plague mankind" of Orcadian folklore, besides the 'Stoor Worm'?

The 'Stoor Worm' of Orcadian folklore is described as one of the nine fearful curses that plague mankind, what are the other curses if there are any? Islanders were terrified of the serpent; it was ...
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5 votes
2 answers
600 views

Revenants in mythology of the British Isles?

In his series, "Song of Ice and Fire", George R.R. Martin re-imagines a War of the Roses era-Britain where the British Isle is greatly enlarged and the continent compressed. He creates a history that ...
  • 14k
5 votes
2 answers
243 views

Are there any accounts of English folklore concerning walking willow trees?

"In English folklore, a willow tree is believed to be quite sinister, capable of uprooting itself and stalking travellers." On the Wikipedia page for willow it has this single sentence ...
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5 votes
0 answers
60 views

Crooked/uncrooked arm as sign of truth-telling. Has anyone come across this in any folklore? My example is from a Cornish folktale

I came across this in a Cornish folktale. Girl appears to be telling wild stories (about fairies). Wise woman tests to see if it is true: she has to crook her arm and repeat the story. If it is untrue ...
5 votes
0 answers
591 views

Where does the personification of the River Thames as Old Father Thames originate?

I'v been doing some light research into the figure of Old Father Thames, he appears as the personification on the River Thames through the 18th to 20th centuries but seems to have lost popularity ...
4 votes
1 answer
119 views

Sheep that speaks the day of your death

I once heard a myth which went along the lines that somewhere in the North of England there was a sheep (or other animal) which, if approached at the correct time (probably midnight) and date, would ...
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3 votes
0 answers
38 views

Giant guarding Wada's Keep, other sources for the legend

Eric Knight's short story “Strong In The Arms” (1942 or earlier, I've mostly read it in Hungarian translation from the volume [1]) talks about the legend of a giant guarding Wada's Keep. Let me ...
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3 votes
0 answers
605 views

Why you should never buy a broom or wash blankets in May?

According to Project Britain's folklore calendar buying a broom or washing blankets in May should be avoided: Never buy a broom in May or wash blankets. Wash a blanket in May. Wash a dear one away. ...
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2 votes
1 answer
92 views

Is there any mention of human sacrifice in the mythologies of Britain of the period before advent of Christianity?

In the mythologies that are there for the period in Scotland and England before the advent of Christianity, is there any mention of any practice of human sacrifice for religious rituals?
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2 votes
0 answers
42 views

Is the practise of standing on stones at election consigned to mythology and folklore?

Humblus I was reading up about legendary Danish kings when I came across a character named Humblus and a rather sensational claim is made at the bottom of the article, and that claim is that political ...