Keeping Fairy Legends Alive
There are fairy sites documented all over the world. It is something that makes my job as the Fairytale Traveler a bit overwhelming at times. There are stories, especially in Irish folklore and mythology, that date back to times long before written legends. So, in an effort to source these fantastic places, and to uncover the enchanting legends that may not make it off their salty shores, I have started a list of fairy sites. This one takes us to Cumbria, a region in England that is teeming with fairy legends. From it’s rolling hills to its crashing sea, and all of the sprawling forests and lakes between, Cumbria is the fabric of fairy folklore in the U.K.. Here are 3 sites in the many, that you can visit when in Cumbria, UK.
Fairy Sites: Saltom Fairy Rock, Whiteaven, UK
A great many years ago – for such accounts are never very exact with regard to dates – the delightful coves and grottoes which were known to exist far under the Seabrows in the vicinity of Saltom were inhabited by a race of fairies – the most exquisitely beautiful creatures that eye ever beheld or imagination ever conceived.
- Joseph Wear, Whitehaven News Contributor 1910
This fairy site is very interesting to me as it holds a local legend that was almost lost to the sea. Located in the small town of Whitehaven on the Cumberland coast just north of the Saltom Pit Mine is the Saltom Fairy Rock. Now barely visible due to a tremendous storm some 140 years ago. The legends of this fairy site were so magical, so enchanting, that it was once the attraction for thousands of visitors all over the Cumbria region.
Alan Cleaver, author of, The Fairies of Cumbria ) notes (which you can find here), that Mr. Joseph Wears at the age of 72 in 1910 documented, the legend of the Saltom Fairy Tribe’s Queen and her secret marriage to a mortal man from a neighboring village, in a Whitehaven periodical.
Joseph Wear describes this:
So well disposed were they towards the people, and so exceedingly familiar, that they were frequently to be seen threading the mazes of the dance, which they only broke off when the people approached too near to the charmed circle; and more than one handsome young fellow – if their own report was to be credited – had not only been permitted to join in their moonlight feast, but had even been admitted into the interior of their grottoes, which was furnished with splendour and magnificence.
They were invariably clothed in the robes of the purest white, but though tall almost as the ordinary race of women, their tread left no impression upon the grass, nor, as they floated gracefully through the dance, did they brush even the glistening dew from the frequent harebells. In short, they were an amiable and a harmless race of beings, whose chief delight appeared to consist in singing their sweet songs and dancing their rounds in the clear moonlight, and everybody loved them.”
This fairy tribe, once seen by many, is said to have met their demise as a result of the mortal husband’s disobedience which, resulted in a terrible storm. It is said that the melancholy wailing of a girl can be heard in the distance on stormy nights on the sea coast of Whitehaven. (Described by Mr. Joseph Wear, and retold by Mr. Alan Cleaver).
For more information on Fairy Sites in the Cumbria region of the UK I encourage you to check out
Alan Cleaver’s book, The Fairies of Cumbria
Fairy Sites: Fairy Kettles of Gelt Wood
If the wells fill with water, Make your wish at this charming fairy site in the Lake District of Cumbria.
Fairy Sites: Elva Plain Stone Circle, Fairy Hill
Located near Cockermouth in Cumbria. I strongly encourage you to GO HERE for the best advisement as to getting here. This is not something that is widely advertised and it off the beaten path.
Thought to be derived from an old Viking name meaning ‘place of the elves’ (which post dates the circle). It is on private land but, there is a footpath… do what you want with that. It’s thought to be of Neolithic time.
An astounding Google map of Fairy Legend and Locations in Cumbria, UK including the ones above, diligently made by Alan Cleaver, Author of The Fairies of Cumbria who resides in Cumbria