Myths, Magic & Legends of Ancient Britain

Since ancient times, Great Britain & Ireland have been amongst the most significant countries in the world for Magic, Myths, Ghosts and Legends. Whether it is ancient Celtic civilizations, Stonehenge or Avebury, Druid priests or alternative pre-Christian religions, Banshees or Mermaids, King Arthur, Merlin or Tintagel, Haunted Houses & Castles, Ghosts or Fairies, ( Faeries) Ley Lines or Crop Circles, Witches or Warlocks, Unicorns or Dragons, prehistoric ancient Gods and Goddesses, or modern day Harry Potter or Shadowmancer Tours, Britain & Ireland is THE spiritual home of ancient Myths, Magic and Legends.

If you are interested in this fascinating other world, our site can point you in the right direction to find out more about a specialist travel and tour operator to assist you.

Legend meets the present in Great Britain… on the English flag, the Red Cross of St George, the legendary knight who slew the fire breathing dragon of a mystical past, and the proud dragon of the Welsh national flag.

When it comes to myths, magic and legends, Great Britain and Ireland have it all… ancient islands, steeped in ancient myths, fables, legends and history.

Almost every town, city and village in Britain has its own secret history, be it Celtic legends, the magical Druids, King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin the Magician, Camelot, Dragons and Unicorns, sea monsters and fairies, mermaids, silkies & banshees, crop circles & ley lines, folk tales and folklore, ghosts, goblins and leprechauns, haunted houses, mysterious mazes and ancient holy wells, Stonehenge, ancient Romans & pagan blood rites, witches and wizards, magic… its all here…

Background

An ancient Celtic civilisation… The Celts were the first true people of Britain, settling mainly in what is now northern England, Scotland and Wales. Their ancient priests and sorcerers were known as Druids. Most famous of Druidic monuments is probably Stonehenge (although mystery surrounds the dating of Stonehenge, as it apparently pre-dates the Celts by perhaps 1,000 years). Close by is the mystical and ancient Avalon in Glastonbury, the legendary home of King Arthur & Camelot. In nearby Winchester are the famous Winchester Cathedral & the legendary Great Hall of King Arthur and the Round Table.
Stonehenge

The brooding & ancient ruined castle of Tintagel on the south-western tip of England in Cornwall is also steeped in Arthurian legend, reputedly being the birthplace of King Arthur. In the ancient and charming town of Bath are the famous Roman Baths (reputedly discovered by Bladud, father of Shakespeare’s King Lear, before 500BC) where the local Celts dedicated the springs to their God, Sul. Ireland is also rich in Celtic and Druid history, with the legacy of the ancient Druids still existing all over Ireland in areas such as Galway, one of the Druids main ports-of call.
Tintagel – Cornwall

Away with the Fairies… The study of the Fairy-Faith is of great importance, philosophically, religiously and historically. Within the ancient Faery Faith lie the beginnings of much of European religions and philosophies. Founded on more than folklore, this faith is one of the keys to understanding the mysteries of Celtic mythology. The Celtic people brought faeries to English, Welsh, and Irish mythology. The old English words faery, fairy, faerie, fay, fey, fae, all come from the old French words f�e and f�erie, and faery includes one or all of the supernatural beings of the magic land of Faery. In Ireland, leprechauns (a type of faery) are the subject of much folklore. Of interest – the word glamour means a spell or “enchantment” placed by a supernatural being (usually a faery) over a human.
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies…”
Peter Pan (JM Barrie)

Ghosts & Hauntings… It was a natural that Britain was the setting for the hugely successful Harry Potter books and movies. With over 150 castles alone with their own resident ghost(s), it’s natural that the story of the young apprentice wizard was created in Britain, a country that is rich in superstitions and tales of ghosts and hauntings.

Given its turbulent, ancient and bloody history, it is no wonder that Britain has, per square mile, the most highly documented & recorded history of ghosts and ghostly sightings in the world. There appears to be much behind the legends and ghostly myths also. Whilst many of the more ancient ghost stories and traditions seem to stem directly from historical events and word of mouth, in many cases these old stories have been kept alive by modern sightings and eyewitness accounts.

Crop Circles… Regularly reported phenomena in Great Britain, crop circles still remain a mystery. This puzzling and mysterious phenomena, intricate symbols that seem to appear out of nowhere in crop fields in southern England still appears regularly, always invariably overnight. While many crop circles have been put down to elaborate hoaxes, many still remain unexplained.

Many people believe in ley lines… and Britain is rich with ley-line mythology. Ley lines are described as lines of earth power, directly linking in a straight, unbroken line the ancient sites of pagan places of worship. Many Norman churches & cathedrals were built on these ancient original pagan worship sites, and along with burial chambers, stone circles, standing stones and other places, are recognised as natural sources of ancient power by ley line believers.

“Silkies” are well entrenched in Celtic legend… Also known as selkies, selchies, kelpies, roane and seal people, there are haunting and evocative legends and folktales of these creatures that could shift between seal and human form by removing their sealskins. Stories of the silkies come from Cornwall, Ireland (especially from Donegal county), and Scotland (in particular the west coast and the northern islands of the Orkneys, Shetlands, and Hebrides). It is still a major belief in Ireland and parts of Britain that a child born today with a “caul” over its face, is born with the magical ability of a silkie.

Mermaids… As with silkies in Ireland, Mermaids are also an entrenched part of mythology in Britain. Historically there has been a belief in part fish, part human creatures for thousands of years. The first mention of these creatures was God Oannes, the lord of the waters who was worshipped by the ancient Babylons. Whilst there are several other sea creature deities, the mermaid in Britain is most likely also derived from Celtic legend. Interestingly enough, there has been an enormous amount of mermaid folklore passed down over many centuries. A mermaid sighting is believed to be a very bad omen, with storms, rough seas, possible shipwreck and/or death to follow. There is a wealth of supporting folk tales describing their relationship with humans, with supposed sightings as recently as the 19th century particularly around the coastal areas of Cornwall and the Northern Isles of Scotland.

As well as legendary powers to grant wishes, mermaids in folklore have also been known to intermarry with humans, with their children reputed to having some powers of faery. Several legends also take mermaids from the sea, to haunt rivers and pools, such as Mermaids Pool below Kinder Downfall in Derbyshire and Black Mere, near Leek in Staffordshire.

Screaming like a banshee… Rich in Irish folklore, the banshee is a truly chilling supernatural creature, reputed to be the ancestral spirit appointed to warn members of certain ancient Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families – the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys and the Kavanaghs – but marriage between families has allegedly further extended this select list.

Whatever the origins of the banshee, she supposedly appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a middle aged matron, or a very old ugly woman – a hag. The banshee also can appear as a washerwoman, apparently washing the bloody clothes of those who are going to die. In this guise she is called the bean-nighe (washing woman). The banshee is also said to appear in a variety of animal forms – a hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel – animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft.

The most terrifying aspect of the banshee is her mourning call, heard mostly at night when someone is about to die. Legend has it that in 1437, King James I of Scotland met an Irish seeress or human banshee, who told him of his future murder at the hands of the Earl of Atholl. Documents exist showing human banshees, prophetesses or seeresses attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of Irish kings. In the area around Leinster, she is called the “bean chaointe” (keening woman) whose wail is so piercing that it shatters glass.

Dragons, Unicorns, and other assorted mythical creatures… Unfortunately (to our knowledge!), none have been sighted for the past hundred millennia or so. However, given the enormous amount of folklore surrounding these mythical and wonderful creatures, a rich background of myth and legend exists in Great Britain and Ireland to personally explore the folklore behind the legends.

Myths, Magic & Legends of Ancient Britain

hilarydougill

Co Durham, United Kingdom

  • Artwork Comments 5

Artwork Comments

  • Joseph Rieg
  • Tom Gomez
  • chasingsooz
  • rmcbuckeye
  • EdgeOfReality
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.