Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Celtic  Index  Previous  Next 

Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

The Small People (Fairies).

When our giants and other antique people left their human bodies they continued to dwell in their old homes down almost to our times. As they had no idea of any life but a carnal existence on earth, they were permitted to live there as spriggans (elves) and they seemed to have enjoyed themselves, in their small way, by imitating mortals’ pleasures.

Old folks, only just departed, often witnessed their gambols amongst the carns of Castle Treen.

Fishermen, when becalmed near Pedn-y-vounder cliff, of summer's nights, frequently saw thousands of gaily-dressed little people, with lights, moving about in what looked like beautiful gardens that extended, in some places, down almost to high-water mark. At the same time low but lively music, and the scents of sweet flowers, would be wafted over the water. The fishers, however, hastily made off whenever such fairy melodies and odours reached their boats. These haunts are screened from view, landward, by towering crags. Steep precipices render them inaccessible on the sea-side; though they may be seen from the water, during summer months, gay with cliff-pinks and other flowers in places that not even a goat could reach.

Treasure-seekers, when digging in nooks and corners among the Castle carns, have been scared away even by day with ill-favoured

p. 139

looking fays of nearly human size; and the same uncouthly-formed elves have often been seen wrestling, hurling, and playing other games on a level place near Hal-dynas; but there is no special story relating to them that we ever heard.

Next: St. Levan Witches