Discover literary legends in Britain

Monday 05 February 2018

Have you ever seen a Selkie? Walked in the footsteps of King Arthur? Heard of the Essex serpent?

The British Isles are full of mythical and  magical tales - Wales Year of Legends is taking place this year but what about the stories from other fantastical parts of the British landscape?

Some stories, passed down from generation to generation, reveal a lot about a country and region’s history, culture, belief system and more.

Many novels weave in this folkloric magic enticing you to explore and discover the legends for yourself.. Travel with a book on the Booktrail and who knows where you will go or what you’ll find....


Loch Ness Legend

Loch Ness

Booktrail: At The Water's Edge

Location: Loch Ness

Arguably the biggest legend to come out of Scotland is the Loch Ness Monster and in At The Water’s Edge, the mythical story of Nessie and the village of Drumnadrochit is brought magically to life. One of the characters sets herself the challenge of finding the monster as do thousands of tourists every year from all four corners of the globe...

Selkie sightings

Booktrail: Sealskin 

Location: West Scotland, Orkney Islands


The myth of the Selkie is a myth which dates back  to the past – a time in the West of Scotland where fisherman spoke of creatures they saw in the sea. A Selkie is said to be half seal, half woman, which comes ashore at full moon and fleetingly take the form of young women. They are said to entice men to follow then into the sea or try to befriend them and entrance them. The one in this story more than makes her mark....


Hidden People

Location: Pudding Pye Hill and Cottingley Beck

The Hidden People looks into the superstitions and beliefs of rural communities in particular who would pay attention to the power of ‘fairy folk’ who could influence a good crop, or a bad harvest, a sick child or a family’s fortunes. This story was inspired by Bridget Cleary, an Irish woman who was burned in 1895 as she was suspected of being a fairy changeling.

Stories of fairies are well known around Cottingley as this was where in 1917, two little girls fooled the world with their fairy photographs.

Essex intrigue...


Location: Manningtree

This then leads to another interesting legend - that of the Witchfinders - men who would hunt down women accused of being witches. In The Witchfinder’s Sister, the story of Matthew Hopkins, a real life witchhunter in the 17th century is brought to life. Here his fictional sister

is accused of being a witch and what happens next will show just how strong beliefs and superstition was at the time... serpents....


Location: Essex

Could there really be a mythical serpent hiding in Essex? The author Sarah Perry was fascinated to come across the story of a “Monstrous serpent” which is the subject of a 1938 pamphlet held at the British Library in London.

The novel takes this creature and weaves into it, the story of a woman, Cora Seaborne, a woman in a man’s job who is the only person willing to investigate this creature. The swampy landscape is thick with intrigue, it brings fear into people’s lives and reveals a lot about the belief systems at the time....

See the pamphlet in the British Museum


From King Arthur...

wales castle

Wales has more than its fair share of legends and mysteries  - both modern and old. Perhaps the most well known is that of King Arthur - but there are more than a few legends hidden in deepest darkest Wales - Shape shifters anyone?

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is due for release soon and will showcase Wales’s most famous story. King Arthur is said to have killed the mighty giant, Rhitta on Mount Snowdon. If you venture down to mountain lake Llyn Llydaw, you might see or feel the presence of  Excalibur, the legendary sword of the king, as many believe this is its final resting place beings of another world

Booktrail: The Watchers  

Location: Broad Haven

More modern was the mystery of what happened one day back in 1977, when school children spotted strange lights over the skies of Broad Haven. What were they?

The childrens’ claims were just one example of a wave of sightings in the area in 1977 – also dubbed the Dyfed Triangle.  Rosa Granville, who ran the Haven Fort Hotel in nearby Little Haven, apparently described seeing an “upside-down saucer” and two “faceless humanoid” creatures with pointed heads......

The Booktrail is a Literary Travel Agency, where you can ‘book’ your next literary adventure and read your way around the world. Find maps, travel guides, reviews photo galleries and much more to help inspire and enrich your next journey.

For more information visit The Booktrail, or follow on Twitter @thebooktrailer









Latest Blogs

48 hours in London

Two girls sitting on a wall looking at the London Eye by the river Thames with a picnic between them on the wall.
48 hours in London

48 hours in Bristol

Artist Louis Masai with a can working on an artwork at Upfest, Europe's largest Street Art and Graffiti Festival, Bristol, England.
48 hours in Bristol

Top 10 things to see and do in Bath

Top 10 things to see and do in Bath

12 festive things to do in London at Christmas

12 festive things to do in London at Christmas

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - The greatest New Year party in the world

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - The greatest New Year party in the world