The Singing Bone

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The Singing Bone is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 28.[1]

It is Aarne-Thompson type 780.[2]

This tale is also found in ballad form, in "The Twa Sisters", where the siblings are sisters instead of brothers.[3]


A boar lays waste to a country, and two brothers set out to kill it. The younger meets a little man who gives him a spear, and with it, he kills the boar. Carrying the body off, he meets his brother, who had stayed to drink until he felt brave. The older brother lures him in, gives him drink, and learns of the younger brother's adventure. They then set out to deliver the body to the king, but on passing a bridge, the older kills the younger, and buries his body beneath it. He takes the boar himself to the king, and marries the king's daughter.

One day a shepherd sees a bone under the bridge and uses it to make a mouthpiece for a horn, which begins to sing on its own. The shepherd takes this marvel to the king. On hearing the song, which tells the tale of the murder, the king has the younger brother's skeleton dug up. The older brother cannot deny murdering him and is executed.


  1. ^ Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, Household Tales, SurLaLune Fairy Tale site "The Singing Bone"
  2. ^ D. L. Ashliman, "The Singing Bone and other tales of Aarne-Thompson type 780"
  3. ^ Stith Thompson, The Folktale, p 136, University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles London, 1977