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14 votes
Accepted

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

Keep in mind that we're reaching deep behind the shrouds of history. Little is known for certain of religious practices this far back; thus, a great deal of speculation and reconstruction is necessary ...
  • 7,656
13 votes

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

A mid-14th-century manuscript illustration showing Merlin building Stonehenge, an idea widely accepted until as late as the 16th century © British Library Board (Egerton MS 3028 fol 30) The earliest ...
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11 votes

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

Excalibur was returned to the lake from whence it came. Most accounts have it that Sir Bedivere took it there from Camlan. Malory is the only source that I know of that mentions an arm taking the ...
  • 1,066
10 votes
Accepted

Why is it lucky to touch or knock on wood?

To make sure your vessel is seaworthy. Sailors in the 17th century would sometimes knock with their hands or tools on the wooden hull of their ship to listen for woodworm or rot, hearing a solid ...
  • 4,001
10 votes

Do Welsh fairies marry human women?

I haven't been able to find any reference for fairy men marrying human women, or the existence of full-sized fairy men at all. Note that the Tylwyth Teg only ever kidnapped human boys, not girls. This ...
  • 4,429
9 votes
Accepted

Revenants in mythology of the British Isles?

I'm not aware of a story that could possibly be a basis for the white walkers, but it could be argued that a zombie story exists in the second branch of the Mabinogi, the tale of Branwen ferch Llŷr. A ...
  • 16.8k
9 votes
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Arthurian legend English and French sources

Well, yes and no. Arthurian texts are divided into two groups: pre-Galfridian and Galfridian. The first category is older, dating at least to the Historia Brittonum, written in Wales in the early 9th ...
  • 7,656
6 votes

Revenants in mythology of the British Isles?

Abhartach (Ireland) Irish folklore speaks of Abhartach, a dwarf who rose from the dead multiple times after being slain. In The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places (c. 1871), Patrick Weston ...
  • 7,055
5 votes

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

Your question is difficult to answer definitely because of several factors: what we know about the concepts and beliefs of iron age Europe is a patchwork of evidence, archaeology, contemporary ...
4 votes
Accepted

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

This is not an account per se, but it is a source that proves such a belief existed in English folklore. Katharine Mary Briggs documents a Somerset rhyme that goes: Ellum do grieve, Oak he do hate, ...
  • 7,656
3 votes

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

Typically, in Irish, Welsh, and Scottish folklore, a black dog denotes an omen of a death in the family, like a banshee, or at the very least a portent of some type. Perhaps that image has continued ...
  • 433
3 votes

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

To expand slightly on the answer by @Semaphore. In her An Encyclopedia of Fairies Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures (page 159), after the Somerset rhyme, Katharine Mary ...
  • 1,624
2 votes

Why is it lucky to touch or knock on wood?

My anthropology professor linked it back to the belief that there were spirits, of whatever kind, living in trees and wood, and in order to keep them from hearing what you were saying and spoiling ...
2 votes

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

Yes, we have two main sources from the Early Roman Occupation era: Strabo, Geographies (64-21 BCE): The Romans put a stop both to these customs and to the ones connected with sacrifice and ...
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2 votes

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

There's maybe one source from all of the surviving literature that may express a pre-Christian British myth with an 'evil' deity, from Plutarch's De Defectu Oraculorum, Vol V: 18 1 Demetrius said ...
1 vote
Accepted

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

Indeed, the source of the expression "one of the nine curses that plague mankind" appears to be Trall Dennison, in this article which appeared in The Scottish Antiquary, or, Northern Notes ...
  • 1,624
1 vote

Sheep that speaks the day of your death

It is very likely that you didn't imagine it: in the folklore of the British Isles beings of different shapes (often shape-shifting) who foretell one's death are extremely common. What you describe ...
  • 1,624
1 vote
Accepted

Do Welsh fairies marry human women?

I can't find any specifically Welsh stories about a fairy husband with a human wife. Below I've listed the closest relevant motifs that I can think of. (Note I'm only including stories where the ...
  • 464

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