Spriggans: Unpleasant Cornish Sprites

tornadoSpriggans are a type of faery being from Cornish mythology. They are associated both with storms and stone ruins. By most accounts, they are closely related to pisgies (aka pixies). In fact, some suggest they are the same sort of being, with pisgies more mischievous and spriggans more outright malevolent. Others say spriggans came originally from Brittany, where they were called korreds. If this is so, their affinity for winds suggest they may be descended from the Crion family of korreds, those most firmly associated with whirlwinds. Spriggans send storms to blight crops.

These fae are also closely associated with the cromlechs or standing stones that dot the Cornish countryside. Like all fae, they love to cause mischief to those who offend them. They sometimes steal away mortal children, leaving their ugly changelings in their place.

They are often found at old ruins, cromlechs, and barrows guarding buried treasure and generally acting as faery bodyguards. As guards to both standing stones and hidden treasures, they correspond very closely to the Breton korred. They are also busy thieves and expert kidnappers of children.

Spriggans serve as slaves or warriors of more powerful fae. Some believe they are the ghosts of former giants, as they have the ability to swell to enormous size. They are also said to have a giant’s strength. They are often charged with guarding buried treasure.

In addition to their sour disposition, these fae are described as being grotesquely ugly. Like their korred cousins, spriggans love music and dance. Though their appearance and temperament are often distasteful, it is said that their music is quite beautiful.

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2 thoughts on “Spriggans: Unpleasant Cornish Sprites

  1. Interesting. Growing up with a mother whose ancestors were almost all of the Cornish miners who settled in South Australia (and she grew up in SA’s Cornish country), I’ve always known about piskies… but never by any other name. Here, you have good piskies, bad piskies, mischievous piskies, malevolent piskies… Ones that probably all had different names, like “spriggan” back in Cornwall. I never thought much about it, but now I’m interesting in learning about what the people in Cornwall actually believed, rather than just hearing fourth-hand stories from the descendants of immigrants. Cornish country here in SA has developed its own myths about creatures and miners and pasties, with little legends about the fearless miner Map Kernow and the ridge on the top of his pasty…

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