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What Are Fairies?

The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. The Travels. The Longest Day. Non-Fiction Non-Fiction. Young Adults. How to See Fairies. Illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk. Tales of the Greek Heroes. Illustrated by Lesley Barnes. Limited Editions.

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Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom - The Royal Fairy Picnic

Online Exclusives. Some say that they are like ghosts, spirits of the dead, or were fallen angels, neither bad enough for Hell nor good enough for Heaven.

Fairy | folklore |

There are hundreds of different kinds of fairies — some are minute creatures, others grotesque — some can fly, and all can appear and disappear at will. The oldest fairies on record in England were first described by the historian Gervase of Tilbury in the 13th century. Brownies and other hobgoblins pictured right are guardian fairies. They are useful ones and do housework and odd jobs around the house. In Aberdeenshire , Scotland they are hideous to look at, they have no separate toes or fingers and in the Scottish Lowlands they have a hole instead of a nose!

Banshees are less common and more sinister, they usually only appear to foretell a tragedy. In Highland tradition the Washer-by-the-Ford, a web footed, one nostrilled, buck toothed hag is only seen washing blood-stained clothes when men are about to meet a violent death! Most of the nature fairies are perhaps descendents of pre-Christian gods and goddesses or are the spirits of trees and streams.

Mermaids and mermen, river spirits and spirits of pools, are the most common nature fairies. Marsh gas makes the flickering flames that hover over marshy ground and gives rise to the belief in Jack-o-Lantern. Jack-o-Lantern, or Will-o-the-Wisp, is a highly dangerous fairy that haunts marshy ground, luring unwary travellers to their death in the bogs! Belief in fairies has not completely died out. A woman on holiday in Cornwall with her daughter came across a small green man with pointed hood and ears. They were so alarmed they ran for the ferry, cold with terror.