Often seen in medieval church paintings and stained glass windows, the Green Man symbolises the cycle of rebirth and resurrection. In terms of his physical appearance, he is often depicted as an eerie face covered in green foliage. His origins are likely Pagan, a symbol of man’s relationship with nature, and the symbolism was likely incorporated into the Church teachings as a way of bridging some Pagan traditions with Christianity in order to make the monotheistic religion more palatable to the unbelievers. Many traditions in Christianity, such as Christmas (Christ’s Mass), are also adapted from Pagan traditions and beliefs, as Christmas is actually a replacement for Winter Solstice and has no biblical basis!
In Cornwall, South West Britain, it has long been purported that a black panther-like cat, several feet long and possessing a pair of fierce fangs has long haunted the rocky land of Bodmin Moor at the heart of Cornwall. Sightings of the cat have circulated for many many years. Cameras set up by wildlife organisations trying to picture it have supposedly revealed its existence, but these have not been distributed to the public and an official government investigation concluded that there was no verifiable evidence to prove or disprove the existence of the beast. Whatever the case, Beast of Bodmin sightings continue to this very day, with many Cornwall residents believing its still out there.
Another Cornish legend for the list, sightings of the Owlman have circulated through Cornwall for several decades. In 1976, a report of two young girls on holiday bearing witness to a large, owl-like creature in the shape of a humanoid flying around the area of St Mawnan and St Stephen’s Church. The girls and their father were so scared by the sighting, which they genuinely believed to be real, that the family holiday was cut short and they departed from Cornwall immediately. Further sightings include that of two girls camping, who then ran when they saw a large, human-size owl creature with glowing eyes. Investigators believe that the eyewitnesses mistook a Eurasian eagle-owl - a large owl with orange, glowing eyes and known to make their nests on the top of Church towers - for the creature, and the story was put to rest.
In history, Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman whose life was relatively well-documented, as well as her financial contributions to the establishment of several churches and monasteries around the country. However, in British folklore, she is now remembered for a legend in which she rode naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry in order to oppose a harsh tax that her husband had placed upon the Church. In fact, the origin of the “Peeping Tom” term originates from this story, in which a man named Thomas is said to have paid keen attention to her ride, and for his sinful lust was struck blind by God! Unfortunately, historians believe that the story most likely did not happen or, at least not in the way that it is often told for numerous reasons. One such reason is that during the reign of the Anglo-Saxons, woman landowners were commonplace and it would have been in Godiva’s authority as much as her husband’s to have lifted the taxes oppressing the townspeople. However, in Norman society, which is where the fable was first recorded, it would have been unheard of for a woman to own land or be in any position to change laws. Therefore, it is believed that the story was likely concocted or misinterpreted by Norman chroniclers.
The Nuckelavee is an ancient legend with Celtic origins. It describes a half-horse, half-humanoid creature of a purely malevolent nature, known for defiling fertile land with its very presence, causing epidemics and draughts and for chasing and murdering humans who dared venture too deeply into its territory. It has been deemed that the origin of the story is that it likely provided a convenient explanation for incidents that the islanders of North Scotland, from where the tale originated, were unable to explain rationally and with the scientific reasoning that we have available for us today. Such incidents would include events that impacted the health and wellbeing of the general population, such as draughts, poor harvests, storms and so forth.