Mythical Beasts: Spriggans

sprigganOriginating from Cornwall, England, Spriggans are a malevolent form of fairy. They are grotesque in appearance but their magical powers are fairly limited to nothing more than tricks and maybe some weather-tampering and illness. They are also said to be able to shift their size, appearing either diminutive in stature, to the size of a giant. They make their homes typically around barrows and crypts, but also around cliff sides and old castles.

Said to be particularly nasty to those that have slighted them, their threat level to humans is high, if not deadly. Similar to Will-o’-the-Wisps, they are more commonly known for leading foolish travelers astray into swamps or off of cliffs. But they have also been blamed for natural catastrophes, such as draughts and bad weather, as well as illness within humans and livestock. Also, in typical fairy tradition, they are said to kidnap babies and leave behind Changelings in their place.

Ancient beliefs vary about the origin and purpose of these fairies. Some believe that these fairies are the ghosts of deceased giants, while others believe that they are the fairy guard of the more diminutive race of fairies. Similar to Leprechauns Spriggans are said to have hordes of gold hidden away, and that they could be tricks out of this treasure.

Until they were featured in Bethesda’s Oblivion and Skyrim, these creatures appeared very little in popular culture. They made brief appearances in the Shin Megami Tensei game series. Probably their more well-known appearance was in a Steven King short story “Crouch End” that later became an episode in the television series Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King.

The most popular and well known tribute to this fairy is a sculpture by Marilyn Collins. Located along a disused railway line in Crouch End, England, the Spriggan appears to materialize through the wall. It is this statue that is said to have inspired Steven King’s short story.

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