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The Piskies of Cornwall


There are a number of creatures particular to Cornish folklore, although their cousins can be found elsewhere in Britain under a different name and guise. One of these strains is the Piskie also known as a Pixie in other West Country counties.

The Piskie is a general name for a fairy race or tribe in Cornwall. In appearance they look like old men with wrinkled faces, and are small in stature with red hair. They dress in the colours of the earth especially green, using natural materials such as moss, grass and lichen.

Cornish Piskie: by Daniel ParkinsonCornish Piskie: by Daniel ParkinsonGenerally the piskies are seen as cheerful creatures with a prankish nature. They are said to be helpful but also mischievous, helping the elderly and infirm whilst sometimes leading the more able bodied traveller astray on the lonely moors. Many stories relate to travellers being led into the wild moorland to become hopelessly lost because of the Piskies.

In many ways the Piskies are similar to the Brownies being helpful but also mischievous in nature.

Often places of ancient worship such as stone circles and barrows were avoided as piskie haunts.

There are many legends attached to the origin of the piskies (and other fairies). Some people saw them as the souls of pagans who could not transcend to heaven, and they were also seen as the remnants of pagan gods, banished with the coming of Christianity. In tradition they are doomed to shrink in size until they disappear.

Another theory suggested they were the souls of babies who had not been Christened, a story championed by early clergymen, and one which has often been used to explain fairy origins.



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