Spriggan is a fairy creature from Cornish and British folk tales.
Spriggans were grotesquely ugly, usually skinny with wrinkled skins, sloping shoulders, and stick-legs with flat froglike feet. Their arms hung down to their knees and their havnds were huge with (often) six fingers or more. Their heads were large and misshapen, with bulging brows and glowing red or yellow eyes. Though usually small, they had the ability to swell to enormous size. There were spriggans of both genders and were known to propagate, because their used their offspring as changelings.
They form part of the fairy bodyguard as described by Bottrell and Hunt. They caused mischief to those who offended them. They sent storms to blight crops, and sometimes stole away mortal children, leaving their ugly changelings in their place.
Spriggans were found at old ruins and barrows guarding buried treasure and generally acting as fairy bodyguards. They were also said to be busy thieves. One of their common tricks was to lead lonely travellers into swamps or near to dangerous and crumbling cliffs, a factor they share in common with the Will o' the Wisp.
Spriggans are able to expand from their diminutive stature to giant sized proportions. Some people even believed them to be the ghosts of giants, which were once thought to have roamed Cornwall in the time before time.
How to Scare off a Spriggan
- An old horseshoe fastened above the window will scare away stray Spriggans.
- Shoo toads from your doorstep, lest they try to come in and bring bad Spriggans with them.
- If a Spriggan should sneak in, any garment turned inside out will send him away. Throw it at him quickly -- but, first, mind it's turned all the way inside out.
'Not long since, a tinner of Lelant dreamt, three nights following, that a crock of gold Divas buried in a particular spot between large rocks within the castle, on Trecroben hill. The next clear moonlight night he dug up the ground of which he had dreamt. After working two or three hours he came to a flat stone which sounded hollow; whilst digging round its edges, the weather became suddenly dark, the wind roared around the carns, and looking up, when he had made a place for his hands to lift it, he saw hundreds of ugly spriggans coming out from amidst the rocks gathering around and approaching him. The man dropped his pick, ran down the hill and home as fast as could lay foot to ground; he took to his bed and was unable leave it for weeks.
When he next visited the castle he found the pit all filled with the turf replaced; and he nevermore dug for the treasure.'From William Bottrell's Traditions and hearthside stories of West Cornwall.
- Middle-Grade novel - The Revenge of the Shadow King
- Lawrence Watt-Evans novel The Spriggan Mirror, as well as other books in the Ethshar series
- Spriggans appear in the Elder Scrolls series of RPGs in the Bloodmoon expansion of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and in the The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion games, but here they represent dryads and wood spirits rather than fairies. In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for example, Spriggans can summon bears and other woodland creatures.
- Spriggan is a manga series and 1998 anime movie.
- Appears in Chrono Cross as a playable character named Sprigg, who has the ability to transform into many enemies she's defeated. She is named "Spriggan" in the Japanese version but her name was reduced due to the 6 character space restraint.
Sculpture of spriggans
A sculpture of a spriggan by Marilyn Collins can be seen in Crouch End, London, in some arches lining a section of the Parkland Walk (a disused railway line). This sculpture was the inspiration for Stephen King's short story "Crouch End", where a stylised rendition of the sculpture is described. The sculpture is sometimes mistaken for the Green Man or Pan.