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Mythical Creatures of Northumberland

The Brag

A fae creature which disguises itself as a horse or donkey. It tricks unwitting humans into riding it, then bucks them into a muddy puddle or a bush while running away laughing.

The Laidly Worm of Spindlestone Heughs

A tale from Bamburgh, of Princess Margaret and her brother Childe Wynd. Margaret was transformed into a terrifying worm/wyrm (a dragon-like creature) by her evil stepmother. The ‘Laidly Worm’ made its home in the limestone rocks at Spindlestone, terrorising the local livestock until Childe Wynd returned from his travels abroad. He kissed the beast, rather than slaying it – this transformed Margaret back into her human form. The stepmother was turned into a toad, which is said to still wander around Spindlestone Heughs, spitting at passing maidens….

The Shellycoat

A curious creature which lurks in waterways, under a cloak made of various mollusc shells. They are harmless, but sometimes cry out as if drowning, then laugh at the deceived party.

The Barghest

An omen of death seen all over the North East and Yorkshire – to see one meant imminent death, especially if it lay across the threshold of your home. The Barghest usually appears as a ghostly, monstrous black dog, sometimes accompanied by the sound of rattling chains. It may appear at the death of a notable person, with a funeral procession of local dogs.

The Bluecap

A spirit which lived in the coal mines, appearing as a small blue flame. If they were paid a fair wage, they would lead miners to rich seams and warn of cave-ins by knocking on the walls. A similar creature called a ‘Knocker’ resided in the tin mines of Cornwall. Bluecaps expected a working man’s wage, which was to be left in a solitary corner of the mine. They accepted no more or less than what they were owed.

Thanks to RePUBlic Gallery for featuring me in the PUBlic Window. I hope this small exhibition has inspired you to learn more about myth and magic in our wonderful county!