Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 


 I FIND a belief still prevalent amongst the people in the outI lying districts of Cornwall, that such birds as the cuckoo and the swallow remain through the winter in deep caves, cracks in the earth, and in hollow trees; and instances have been cited of these birds having been found in a torpid state in the mines, and in hollow pieces of wood. This belief appears to be of some antiquity, for Carew writes in his "Survey of Cornwall" as follows :--

"In the west parts of Cornwall, during the winter season, swallows are

found sitting in old deep tynne-works, and holes in the sea cliffes; but touching their lurking-places, Olaus .Msgnus maketh a far stranger report. For he saith that in the north parts of the world, as summer weareth out, they clap mouth to mouth, wing to wing, and legge to legge, and so, after a sweet singing, fall downe into certain lakes or pools amongst the caves, from whence at the next spring they receive a new resurrection; and he addeth, for proofe thereof, that the fishermen who make holes in the ice, to dig up such fish in their nets as resort thither for breathing, doe sometimes light on these swallows conge..lled in clods, of a slymie substance, and that, carrying them home to their stoves, the warmth restored them to life and flight."

A man employed in the granite quarries near Penryn, informed me that he found such a " slymie substance" in one of the pools in the quarry where he was working, that he took it home, warmth proved it to be a bird, but when it began to move it was seized by the cat, who ran out on the downs and devoured it.

Next: Shooting Stars