|'The Golden maned men of Errington Woods'
Artwork by Brett Manning, taken
from the 'Beasts of Britain map'
THE LITTLE PEOPLE OR, THE HAIRY FAERIE FOLK!
Tales of the little people have persisted for centuries in the British Isles and Europe. The Fay (Faerie) Family itself covers a multitude of beings with varying descriptions and attributes, having usually one primary thing in common, which is their small stature and being imbued with an elusive and short-tempered magical disposition. Faeries, Elves, Gnomes, Brownies, Imps, Hobgoblins, Pixies, Puck's, Knockers, Fenydree, Urisk, Gruagachs, Bwbachs, Trows, to name but a few, pepper our history and folklore for as far back as can be remembered.
These beings are described in our history as mysterious, secretive, magical and elusive creatures, often with mischievous or malevolent character traits.
In ancient legends they are spoken of as a private folk, very territorial, often kidnapping maidens and children that enter their realm, the kidnapees usually never being seen again. Their alleged habitats range from forests and rivers to small woods, even gardens; but also delve beneath large rocks and inside deep caves and mines. Myth and legend explicitly depict many Faerie folk as underground dwellers, the word Gnome means 'earth dweller', after all! Some were also said to live with or alongside people in their homes, where if the right kind of food offering was made to them (usually porridge and honey or some kind of dairy product) they would perform menial tasks for the homeowner.
Their reported physical traits are extremely varied, with reports describing anything from short, squat, goblin-like creatures; to beautiful, winged, fair-faced faeries. However, some of their routinely mentioned common features that we are especially interested in here, are those ascribed to beings like the Brownie and Fenydree, which are small creatures, 2 to 4 feet in height; with pointed ears and noses, bearded faces and woolly, hairy bodies.
Or to other semi-fabled creatures, such as the Trows, which are described as ugly, hair covered, troll-like beings, standing around, four feet in height. All of these characteristics seem charmingly supernatural and out of the ordinary until we try to fit them, however untidily into the natural order. In This chapter, we will endeavour to squeeze them into our pre-selected and ill-fitting box, for the time being, and to make their behaviour fit that of an elusive, intelligent animal. Seeing them, as it were, from the viewpoint of medieval superstitious people, who did not have any comparative species to draw upon, with which to accurately describe their traits.
We must remind ourselves that the inhabitants of our island, until quite recent times, did not even know of apes and therefore, the question to ponder here, in view of this absence of comparable species is, what would a miniature Bigfoot really look like to these ancestors of ours, other than some dark and foreboding supernatural apparition, or an alchemistic 'something' to be appeased and placated.
My reasons for including the little people in my research of those hairy beasts that go thump in the night should be quite obvious, in as much as, I am curious as to whether the faerie legends of Britain and other countries, could, in fact, be nothing more than the frightened folkloric fables, of religiously superstitious natives, encountering unknown animals. Their descriptions would inevitably utilise features of known animals and even people, resulting in a rather awkward ‘patchwork apparition, unquestionably supernatural in conception and abode.
There are other creatures around the world that are similar in description to our little folk. Outside of Britain, we find creatures like, the Junjadee, Duende, Pukwudgie, Bukwus, Orang Pendek and Huldufolk, sharing features with one another as well as, the Brownies, Elves, Goblins, Knockers and Faeries of Britain and Ireland. New Zealand also allegedly has a small nameless primate-like creature, whose description closely matches that of the Orang-Pendek of Indonesia or the Menehune of Hawaii. In an interesting parallel with many British faerie stories, the Maori people also speak of an altogether different being, known as the Patupaiarehe or fairy people.
It has been a resolute and steadfast theory, not my own, but one belonging to the collective mind, that European Faerie lore could be attributed to a small species of Bigfoot or for want of a better name, Littlefoot. Yet, this theory is somewhat hard to define. After months of research, the evidence I sought in Britain to support this notion remains as elusive and as varied as the reports and tales of the creatures themselves. I have listed some sightings here that have a varying degree of rudimentary relevance in their continuity, but even these are not altogether satisfactory. I still feel convinced, that in many cases, the Faeries in our folklore traditions, not only here, but around the globe, may, in fact, be of some type of miniature, bipedal primate. Perhaps now extinct or at least incredibly rare, but a primate nonetheless. In profile, it is a composite creature, stitched together by startled and superstitious ancients, without the benefit of our modern and wondrous catalogue of the natural world. Our ancestors, limited in knowledge and sphere, rooted to the land and yet somehow not a part of it, have knitted this intelligent and mischievous creature into a magical being, full of mal intent, and endowed it with dangerous and whimsical powers. What we shall hopefully, see in the sightings laid out here for your edification and critique, is a hint of association, in behaviour and physical description, that will shine a little light on the Littlefoot Theory and re-brand the Faerie Folk (if not here, at least in other parts of the world) in your minds, as the pygmy primates I believe them to be.
LITTLE HAIRY MAN OF HORSHAM
In 1948, Mr E.J.A. Reynolds was just 10 years old when he was visiting Horsham, England. One moonlit night he went out to set rabbit traps when he witnessed a man 18 inches tall, (1.5 feet) and covered in hair, step out from a blackberry bush nearby. The 'small man' did not notice him hiding nearby and he was able to get a good look at his features. His face was bare and leathery with a sharp nose and the arms seemed longer than a humans would be. After a short time, he quietly stepped back into the bush and disappeared. A few days later whilst riding on top of a double-decker bus, he saw the little hairy man walking across a garden in the town.
CASTLEWELLAN LAKE HAIRY MAN
In October 2016 a driver on the A25 towards Castlewellan, County Down in Northern Ireland, watched a four-foot high hairy figure dart across the road and disappear behind a bush. The driver looked behind the bush as they drove past, but was unable to see anything there
GREEN-FACED MONKEY-MAN OF TORBAY
Over a six week period, in the summer of 1996, fifteen witnesses saw a ‘green-faced monkey’, running through Churston Woods, Torbay. The witnesses described seeing an animal, four to five feet tall, with a flat, olive-green face, running through the woods and swinging in the trees.
In 2008 Irene Dainty had a face to face encounter with a strange creature on Love Lane, Woodford Bridge. She said: “I had just come out of my flat and just as I had turned the corner I saw this hairy thing come out of nowhere. I really don’t want to see it again. It was about four feet tall and with really big feet and looked straight at me with animal eyes. Then it leapt straight over the wall with no trouble at all and went off into the garden of the Three Jolly Wheelers pub. I was so terrified that I went to my neighbour’s house and told her what had happened. She couldn’t believe it and asked me if I had been drinking, but I said, of course, I hadn’t, it was only about 3.00 p.m.”
|'The Trolls of Slitting Mill'
Artwork by Brett Manning, taken
from the 'Beasts of Britain map'
In 1975 a young couple, Barry and Elaine were returning from a Christmas party in the early morning with their two children asleep in the car and were driving towards their home in Slitting Mill, Staffordshire. The car stalled and Barry, jumped out to check the engine, while he was returning to the car, his wife screamed, as a small figure quickly ran across the road in front of them. She said: “I just about saw it at the last second, and then another one followed it, and then a third one. The best way I can describe them is like a hairy troll or something like that. We had some moonlight and they were like little men, but with hunchbacks and big, hooked noses and not a stitch on them at all. Not a stitch, at all; just hair all over them. I’d say they were all four-feet-tallish, and when the third one crossed by us, you could see them at the edge of the trees – wary, or something.”
THE TINY WEEPING FIGURE EVESHAM
In the 1980s a young man had been out playing and was returning home when he saw a strange small creature that was covered in hair. He said: “I could see a largish bulk directly beneath a lamppost (streetlight), that made me look harder, as this type of thing was never usually there. To my astonishment and disbelief, I saw what seemed to be an animal of some sort, as it had rugged hair and I could see its body was kind of raising up and down to the motion of breathing. This creature appeared to be standing on its hind legs and was standing about little over one metre high with its back towards me. Whatever it was, it was definitely alive and stood easily on its hind legs, as if it were a bipedal hominid of some sort. What seemed even crazier, was that it actually appeared to be crying/sulking exactly like you might expect a small child to do. I could see that it actually had its right arm upwards with its forearm against its forehead, with its body tipped forward towards the lamppost, using it to lean against or even hide its face in the exact same way small children do. I walked away as quickly and as quietly as I could."