What are some of the unique mythological creatures from your country's folk lore ?

January 10, 2018

Boggart: an evil or mischievous spirit in folklore.

Location: England, Scotland.

 

(photo credit: BOGGART - Kaijumatic)

A ‘Boggart’ is the name given for either a household spirit or a malevolent genius loci, which inhabits the woods, fields and marshes.

Other names for this being include bugbear, bogeyman or, the bogle.

Boggart - Wikipedia

In Lore, in rural parts of Northern England and up into Scotland, the Bogart should never be named; for if it is, none would be able to reason with it and it would become uncontrollable, and vicious. It would reap a path of destruction.

If it came in your house, it would pull on your nose or ears. Your dogs would go lame. Often, horse-shoes could be found on the front door of homes, in the belief that this would shield their occupants from the invasion of a Bogart.

The Bogart’s own domain however lay on the Moors, under bridges, or in crags or caves. The boggarts inhabiting the marshes or holes in the ground were often attributed more serious evil deeds, such as the abduction of children. There are alleged disappearances of children and adults associated with the Bogart, in earlier centuries.

 

A contact of mine recently told me that in Ogden, in the South Pennines of Northern England, “All over is stories of the ‘Bogarts’ and all over is little green troll decorations in the trees that people have put up. They’re put up because there is a tradition that some creatures called the Bogarts live up there. Its always happened on a place called ‘Spice Cake Hills.’”

Boggarts are described in various form: Many are described as relatively human-like in form, though usually rough and coarse looking, uncouth, very ugly and even monstrous creatures, often with beast-like forms and behaviour. It was believed they could shift in size and shape and form.

Irish writer Eliot O’Donnell gives an account in Scottish Ghost Stories 1911 of ‘The death bogle.’ (abridged)

“Several years ago, wanting to re-visit the Scottish Highlands, in Perthshire; an area that had great attractions for me as a boy, I answered an advertisement in a magazine for a "Comfortable room offered" in an elderly lady’s house. The location was heavenly, and since there were no other adverts in that area I responded.’

‘On arrival my suitcases were taken upstairs by a boy in the MacDonal tartan, and I was given tea of scones and cream. My bedroom was dainty and clean. It turned out that both our ancestors had fought in battalions in Louis XIV's brigades. A week after I had arrived there, I acted upon the landlady’s suggestion to spend the day on the Loch. It was a welcome rest from my writing and it wasn't until evening time, around 7 o'clock, that I set out to return to the house. It was a brilliant moonlit night; there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the landscape around me was as clear as in the daytime; The far-off river, the long range of mountains silhouetted darkly against the silvery sky, the green thickness of the box trees.’

‘I mounted my bicycle and rode speedily along the high road, until eventually coming to a stop after a couple of miles. I didn't stop fatigued, but rather because I was entranced with the scenery. I had stopped on a triangular shaped junction where three roads met. I dismounted and leant against the signpost, remaining like that for probably 10 minutes until I was about to remount my bicycle, when suddenly I became icy cold and a hideous feeling of terror seized me. The terror gripped me so hard that my bicycle slipped from my grip to the ground, crashing.

‘The next instant something, and for the life of me I know not what; its blurred outline and indefined shape landed in front of me with a thud and remained there, bolt upright as a cylindrical pillar. Meanwhile in the distance came the sound of a low rumbling, which grew until into view thundered a wagon loaded with hay and on top of the wagon sat a man with a wide-brim hat, talking heatedly to a young boy who lay across the hay. The horse pulling the wagon caught sight of the "thing" that stood in front of me and stopped still, violently snorting. The man cried out to the horse, then in a hysterical screech, "My God! What's that figure boy?" The boy immediately rose up and then clutched the man's arm tight, screaming; "I don't know! I don't know! But it’s me it's come for! Don't let it touch me! Don't let it touch me!"

The moon was so bright that as the boy screamed I could see their faces so well, and their expressions were one of abject terror; even more horrifying than the unknown "thing." The gorse, the trees, the grotesque crags of granite, all were overwhelmed by this stillness; the stillness of shadowland. I could count the buttons on the man's coat, I could see the marks of sweat on the boy's shirt. I could see his black nails. I could see the man's chest as it rose and fell rapidly as he breathed fast with fear, and while these minute details were being driven into my soul, the cause of it all was the shock of this indefinable indistinguishable "thing" that stood as a column; silent and motionless, and behind it was a glow.’

‘The horse suddenly broke free from the spell of this esoteric figure and it broke off at a gallop, tearing frantically past the phantasm and went helter-skelter along the road ahead, speeding recklessly. The silent and motionless entity now followed in their wake, with bounds, trying to get at them with its long spidery arms. If it succeeded I can't say, because I was uncontrollably frightened that it would return to come after me, and I rode as I have never ridden before to get away from there.’

‘I told my landlady about what had happened. She looked very serious. "I should have warned you," she said. "It has always been that way on that road. No-one who lives here will venture there after dark, and so it must have been strangers who you saw there. It's method never varies. It comes over the wall, remains still until someone approaches, and then it pursues them with monstrous speed. The person it touches will invariably die within 12 months. I remember when I was a child, a night such as you have described. I was coming home with my father from a party. When we reached that spot, our horse shied and we went racing off at terrific speed. I have never seen such fear in my father; his agitation alarmed me so, and my instinct told me this was not from the horse bolting but from something else. Soon I realized what it was; something overtook us and it thrust its long thin arms toward us and it reached my father, touching his hand and then, with a cry that was more animal than human, it disappeared. We could not speak until we reached home. My father was white as a sheet, and he took me aside and whispered to me, "Don't say a word; don't tell your mother what has happened. Never let her know. It was the death bogle and I shall die before the year is out." And he did die.'

She continued, "I can't describe it any better than you; whether man or beast, I do not know, but whatever it was I got the impression that it had no eyes.’

Eliot O’Donnell ‘Scottish Ghost Stories, 1911.https://www.gutenberg.org/files/...

Of course, the most famous boggarts feature in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series!

 

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