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Cornwall’s Knockers, Sea Monsters, and Pesky Piskies

  • 21/06/2022
  • 18:00-19:30
  • Online talk

“Nightriders, Nightriders, Please Stop!” from Enys Tregarthen, North Cornwall Fairies and Legends (1906)

Folklorist and historian Ronald L. ‘Ron’ James looks at how industrialisation, emigration, and modernisation and media affected Cornish folklore in the mines, on land, and in the sea.

Online talk, Tuesday 21 June 2022, 18:00-19:30

The folklore of Cornwall has a unique character, shaped by its remote environment and by talented droll tellers, artists who told stories adapted to the moment. Active collecting in the nineteenth century resulted in a disproportionately large publication of Cornish narratives. This created a folkloric baseline for comparison with other places, but also to assess how traditions mutate over time. Much feared piskies (a dialect form of pixies) once cast a haze of danger over the field and in the mine. At the same time, people told stories of feared mermaids along the shore, apparently with little thought of monsters in the open sea. More recently, North America’s tommyknockers, the modern Morgawr (a fabricated sea monster), and pixies fluttering among the flowers underscore how the folklore of Britain’s south west continues to resonate even as it has changed.

Ronald M. “Ron” James, historian and folklorist, taught both subjects at the university level and had state and federal appointments in the United States until his retirement in 2012. Among his dozen books is The Folklore of Cornwall: The Oral Tradition of a Celtic Nation (Exeter, 2018), shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Award of The Folklore Society. In 2016, Ron was elected to the Gorsedh Kernow, taking the name Carer Henwethlow , “Lover of Legends.”

Tickets £5.00 (£3.00 for Folklore Society members with the Promo code: log in to the Members Only area to get the Promo Code). Book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cornwalls-knockers-sea-monsters-and-pesky-piskies-tickets-251258670447

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