You may know that Wales is famous for its red dragon, but did you know that the national animal of Scotland is a unicorn? The British Isles has hundreds of myths and legends starring fantastic beings and beasts.
In this first of two blogs on the topic, we’ll introduce you to five of the Top Ten Creatures in British Folklore.
What should you expect to find? The most unusual? The most dangerous? These categories are included, plus the most mysterious, and the cutest mythological creatures! Come with us on a journey, in the ultimate countdown of beasts and beings in British mythology (and at the same time, practice your superlatives!).
10. Most Famous: Loch Ness Monster.
Nessie, as it is known in the UK, has been the subject of much debate – does it exist, or not? The first sighting of this creature was in the 1870s when Dr MacKenzie claimed he saw something that looked like a dinosaur in the Loch. However, the story did not become news at that time.
In 1933, a couple was walking by the lake and claimed they saw a huge animal swimming in the water. Since then, marine scientists have studied the Loch but the monster has never been found…
9. Most Enchanting: Morgan Le Fay
This powerful character from the Legend of King Arthur has been described as a fay (life-sized faery), a goddess and a sorceress. She was skilled in magic and healing, shapeshifting and could fly. Morgan le Fay was never really evil, but in 13th-century writing, we are told she caused trouble because of ‘unrequited love.
This means she loved someone who did not love her back. It was Sir Lancelot, one of King Arthur’s knights. Before the 13th century, myths spoke about Morgan being Arthur’s healer.
8. Most Dangerous: Faeries What? Cute little faeries are dangerous? You’d better believe it! These beautiful nature spirits are very powerful, and also quite emotional. You do not want to make a faerie angry! By the way, not all faeries are tiny, some are human-sized or bigger. (See: Morgan le Fay).
In British folklore, there are many stories of faeries stealing babies, and carrying children or adults off to their realm. Once a person eats or drinks there, it is impossible to return to the human world. Also, if you offend a faery by damaging forest plants or animals, you may be killed. You have been warned!
7. Most Helpful: Brownies
Brownies a small household spirits that like to keep your place tidy when you’re asleep. In some myths, brownies work on British farms, looking after the animals. They are shy creatures and don’t like to be seen by humans. They do not need thanks for their work, but they do appreciate it if the house owners leave them some warm milk and bread or cake by the fireplace.
6. The Cutest: Pixies
These charming beings are tiny – they can fit in your hand! Pixies or piskies come from Cornwall, in the southwest of England. In British Folklore, they are often described as looking like children and have dragonfly-like wings.
Pixies are kind and helpful, especially to animals. However, they sometimes lead travellers the wrong way, just for fun! This is where the phrase ‘pixie led’ comes from - someone who is lost or confused. You may hear people say this phrase, even today.
In the next blog, we'll continue this countdown with the Top Five Creatures in British Mythology. But firstly - the generous team at IQ Global have also made a series of webinars on British Folklore!
Each blog links to the content of the webinars and carefully designed quizzes, to give you the most rounded learning experience. Why learn about the myths and legends of Britain? The best person to ask might be J.K. Rowling, as there are many creatures from British folklore in her books! But also, what a fascinating way to practise grammar and descriptive language!
Did you know that we have an English Voice taster at each level, absolutely free? Just sign up to the website to access this amazing free content and try before you buy!
We hope you have enjoyed this blog. As always, you will progress more by reading, listening and practising your English so make sure you check out IQ Global for free resources and our YouTube channel. See you next time!