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Underground Creatures

The Knockers

These little people are well known to the Welsh, Cornish and Devon folk, especially the miners.

They’re about two feet tall and they live underground. Rare sightings report that the Knockers often wear miner’s gear and they are responsible for random mischief such as stealing unattended tools, food and clothing.

Their name comes from the knocking sounds that echo around a mine just before a cave-in. Whether the Knockers were warning about the imminent cave-in or causing it by knocking on the walls and supports is unknown. But the Cornish tin miners were sure that the Knockers were the spirits of deceased miners killed in previous accidents and the knocking was a warning to get out!

To stay on the Knockers’ good side, miners would save the last corner of their pasties and throw it into the mine as an offering to the Knockers in thanks for their warnings and hopeful that they would refrain from pinching their stuff!



The word ‘Gnome’ actually derives from the Greek for ‘earth dweller’ and are considered to be part of the largely synonymous

group of ‘Little People’. Gnomes often guard mines and underground treasures, including deliberately buried treasure and natural ‘treasure’ like precious gems and metals yet to be mined.

Gnomes, like most earth dwellers, prefer to avoid humans. They’re diminutive and quick-moving, intelligent and fearsome fighters if necessary.

As with their cousins, the Dwarfs, the Gnomes are usually described as having long beards which are often white. Female Gnomes are rarely mentioned.

Some Gnomes have been known to rise above ground and help humans, such as the Heinzelmannchen (House Brownie) in Cologne, Germany. These Gnomes were said to do the household chores for the city’s occupants while they slept, leaving them more leisure time during the day.

According to legend, a tailor’s wife was curious to catch the Gnomes at their nocturnal work so she scattered peas on the floor of the workshop to make the Gnomes trip and fall. The Gnomes, furious with the trick, left Cologne never to return. From then on, Cologne’s residents have had to do their own chores.


The Boggart

The English folklore Boggart can be found inhabiting fields and marshlands, dangerous bends on the road, holes in the ground and under bridges.

Although many sightings of a Boggart claim them to be human-like in form, they’re very ugly and often bestial in appearance. The Boggart of Longar Hede in Yorkshire was said to be “a fearsome creature the size of a calf, with long shaggy hair and eyes like saucers. It trailed a long chain after itself, which made a noise like the baying of hounds.”

Any person lost, never to be seen again in marshland was considered ‘taken by the Boggart’. Boggarts were known to scare horses, turn milk sour and rot crops. For a farmer to have a Boggart on his land was disaster – unless the farmer was able to trick the Boggart into leaving.

In one tale from Mumby, Lincolnshire, there lived a farmer with a Boggart on his land. When the farmer tried to cultivate the land the Boggart got angry and after much arguing they agreed to share the crop at the end of the season.

The farmer asked, “which half of the crop would you like to share, the part below the ground or the part above it?” the Boggart thought about this and then replied “the part below the ground.” The Farmer then sowed the seed with barley and at harvest time the farmer had sacks of grain and the Boggart had nothing but stubble.

Enraged, the Boggart demanded that next time it would take whatever was above the ground. The farmer planted potatoes and at harvest time the farmer had a storehouse full of potatoes and the Boggart was left with stems. The farmer’s tricks proved too much for the Boggart and he left the field never to be seen again.


Jenny Greenteeth

Jenny Greenteeth lives in the ponds, canals, rivers, wells, floodplains and marshes of the UK.She has green hair, skin and sharp teeth and is often depicted covered in pond weed.

Pond weed can appear solid when resting on the surface of the water which leads the unsuspecting to their deaths by duping them into thinking it is safe to walk where it isn’t.

Jenny is also known as Nelly Longarms due to her long arms reaching out to drag her victims beneath the water.



A Trow is a mischievous fairy from the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Trows are short, ugly and nocturnal creatures with a great love of music. They live in earth mounds called Trowie Knowes and venture out to listen to music and have been known to kidnap or lure musicians to their dens.

The inside of these dens were said to be decorated with gold, silver and precious gems and the finest food and drink was served at their tables.

Following a series of articles about the Trows written in a Scottish magazine in the 1960’s, a man offered his eyewitness account of his experience of the Trows on the island of Hoy during the Second World War.

“One stormy day in winter I was walking or struggling along the cliff top at Torness. The wind was high and howled about, low-lying, swirling clouds part-enveloped the land in misty rain. At times the pressure was so great that I was forced to bend and clutch at the heather to retain a footing.

On one such occasion, on looking up I was amazed to see that I had the company of what appeared to be a dozen or more ‘ wild men ‘ dancing about, to and fro. These creatures were small in stature, but they did not have long noses nor did they appear kindly in demeanour.

They possessed round faces, sallow in complexion, with long, dark, bedraggled hair. As they danced about, seeming to throw themselves over the cliff edge, I felt that I was a witness to some ritual dance of a tribe of primitive men.

It is difficult to describe in a few words my feelings at this juncture or my bewilderment. The whole sequence could have lasted about three minutes until I was able to leave the cliff edge.”

Mr W. E. Thorner, Luton, Bedfordshire (quote courtesy of


‘Who’s that trip-trap-tripping over my bridge?’

Trolls live in isolated areas and inhabit caves, burial mounds, mountains and large rocks. They’re slow, dim-witted creatures that tend to live in family groups rather than alone.

Trolls are always best to be avoided as they are neither friendly nor helpful. They can sometimes be found hiding under remote bridges waiting for unsuspecting travellers. They are known to eat people, and in the tale of Billy Goat’s Gruff, one particular troll has a penchant for goat. The troll is tricked by the goats and flung into the river, never to be seen again.

However, just to be safe, always cross a bridge quietly so as not to disturb the troll underneath!


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