From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Spriggan sculpture by Marilyn Collins, Parkland Walk, Haringey.jpg
Sculpture by Marilyn Collins
GroupingMythological creature
First reportedIn folklore

A spriggan /sprɪən/ is a legendary creature from Cornish faery lore. Spriggans are particularly associated with West Penwith in Cornwall [1]

Spriggan is a dialect word, pronounced with the grapheme <gg> as /ʤ/, sprid-jan, and not sprigg-an, borrowed from the Cornish plural spyrysyon 'spirits' [2]

In folklore[edit]

"The Spriggans are found only about the cairns, coits, or cromlechs, burrows, or detached stones, with which it is unlucky for mortals to meddle. A correspondent writes: " This is known, that they were a remarkably mischievous and thievish tribe. If ever a house was robbed, a child kidnapped, cattle carried away, or a building demolished, it was the work of the Spriggans. Whatever commotion took place in earth, air, or water, it was all put down as the work of these spirits. Wherever the giants have been, there the Spriggans have been also. It is usually considered that they are the ghosts of the giants; certainly, from many of their feats, we must suppose them to possess a giant's strength. The Spriggans have the charge of buried treasure."" [3]

According to The English Dialect Dictionary (1905), spriggans were apparently related to the trolls of Scandinavia.[4] Spriggans were depicted as grotesquely ugly, wizened old men with large child-like heads. They were said to be found at old ruins, cairns, and barrows guarding buried treasure.[5] Although small, they were usually considered to be the ghosts of giants,[4] with the ability to swell to enormous size. They were also said to act as fairy bodyguards.[citation needed]

Spriggans were notorious for their unpleasant dispositions, and delighted in working mischief against those who offended them. They raised sudden whirlwinds to terrify travellers, sent storms to blight crops, and sometimes stole away mortal children, leaving their ugly changelings in their place.[5] They were blamed if a house was robbed or a building collapsed, or if cattle were stolen.[4] In one story, an old woman got the better of a band of spriggans by turning her clothing inside-out (turning clothing supposedly being as effective as holy water or iron in repelling fairies) to gain their loot.[6] It was not spriggans but the buccas or knockers who were associated with tin mining, acting as guardians to the workings, and apart from the mischievous nature above, their attitude to miners seems to have been one of protection.[7] However it is said that "On Christmas-eve, in former days, the small people, or the spriggans, would meet at the bottom of the deepest mines, and have a midnight mass." [8]


A sculpture of a spriggan by Marilyn Collins can be seen in Crouch End, London, in some arches lining a section of the Parkland Walk (a disused railway line). If walking along the Parkland Walk from Finsbury Park to Highgate station the Spriggan is to the right just before the disused railway platforms of the former Crouch End station. To the left, on the southside of the Parkland Walk is Crouch Hill Park where Ashmount School has been located since January 2013. The sculpture is sometimes mistaken for the Green Man or Pan.

In popular culture[edit]

Spriggans appear as magical, treelike creatures in several of the Elder Scrolls role-playing video games by Bethesda Softworks. Spriggans generally appear in wooded areas, guarding hidden glades, cave entrances, or forest ruins. They are hostile towards the player and most other humanoid characters, attacking them on sight. They also possess the ability to command woodland creatures to fight alongside them. In the Bloodmoon expansion to Morrowind, spriggans can regenerate after death twice and only remain dead after being killed three times.[9]

The manga series, Spriggan, is based upon a group agents codenamed "Spriggan" by the ARCAM corporation.

In Magic: The Gathering, it is a Goblin creature type. Cards such as Hungry Spriggan and Tower Above show their ability to swell.

In the MMO Glitch, Spriggan is a god-like being who was responsible for the creation of trees.

The main character in Sword Art Online light novel, manga, and anime series, Kirito, takes the form of a Spriggan in the Alfheim Online game. Spriggans are said to only possess illusionary magic that is not seen as being helpful in battle, however Kirito utilizes both a transformation illusion and a smokescreen to overcome opponents in battles in which he was greatly outmatched.

In Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn spriggans are bloodless soulkin, portrayed as a small black-furred creature clutching a stone. The stones that spriggans bear are magical batteries from which they draw their strength; they seem to have no will to live without these stones and live their lives controlled by their attachment.

In the Beyond the Spiderwick trilogy, a creature named Sandspur is later discovered to be spriggan.

A spriggan by the name of Sprig is a companion to Max Sumner and his friends in the Grey Griffins series.

In the online game Elsword there is a boss in a stage called Spriggan that is a rather small miniature knight about half of the character's height, but has an attack which consists of his true form being rather tall "Shadow" inside the armor to come out and perform stronger attacks, the shadow being 3 to 4 times a character's height.

The Warmachine tabletop miniatures game has a model in their Khador faction called a Spriggan.

In the online video game Wizard101, a spriggan is a creature found in the world of Avalon in which you must defeat.

In the season three episode "Fae-Ge Against the Machine" of the sci-fi series Lost Girl, the character named Balzac is a spriggan. In the episode, it is stated that a deal with a spriggan is binding and must be upheld.

The Spriggan is a demon of the Fairy family in the Shin Megami Tensei series. He appears Strange Journey and Soul Hackers. He looks like a giant statue and has a childish personality.

In Hiro Mashima's manga Fairy Tail, series antagonist Zeref assumes the name Spriggan in opposition of the titular guild when acting as emperor of the Alvarez Empire, referring to himself as a "grotesque fairy".

In the PlayStation video game, Wild ARMs 2, the elemental bosses of the four Raypoint temples are subtitled "Spriggan". Spriggan also appeared as a spirit in Beyblade burst anime and games.

In the multi-platform MOBA video game by Hi-Rez Studios, SMITE, the playable god Terra has a Spriggan skin. Terra is the Roman goddess of the Earth, the Greek counterpart being Gaia. With her Spriggan skin, she resembles a mystical tree-like humanoid with brown bark and green hair.

In Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Spriggans appear as a type of enemy in Dracula's castle, they are depicted as bizarre humanoid creatures with no arms who move by hopping and attack by dashing at the player character Juste Belmont.

In Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Spriggans are a form of ancestral forest monsters, related to the leshens. Spriggans appear in the Blood and Wine DLC.

Spriggans are featured in the Steam game Little Briar Rose as inhabitants of the enchanted forest like the gnomes, the fairies and the mer-men. The player has to interact with them to progress in the story. Here spriggans look like goblins.

A character named Spriggan is fairy queen Titania's bodyguard in the manga and anime The Ancient Magus' Bride (魔法使いの嫁 Mahō Tsukai no Yome). Though he appears small of stature, he has the ability to transform into a titan seemingly made of stone.


  1. ^ Various folklore collections e.g. Craig Weatherhill and Paul Devereux, Myths and Legends of Cornwall, 1994, p.23, Sigma Leisure, ISBN 978-1850583172
  2. ^ Dr Ken George, An Gerlyver Meur, p. 600, Cornish Language Board, ISBN 978-1902917849
  3. ^ Robert Hunt, Popular Romances of the West of England, 3rd edition, 1916, p. 81, ISBN 978-1605064604
  4. ^ a b c Wright, Joseph, ed. (1905). The English Dialect Dictionary. V. Henry Frowde. p. 690.
  5. ^ a b Piskies, Spriggans, Knockers, and the Small People – Traditional Tales from Cornwall. Truro: Tor Mark Press. c. 1979. p. 2. ISBN 978-0850250435.
  6. ^ Robert Hunt, Popular Romances of the West of England, 3rd edition, 1916, The Old Woman Who Turned Her Shift, page 113-114
  7. ^ Robert Hunt, Popular Romances of the West of England, 3rd edition, 1916, page 82
  8. ^ Robert Hunt, Popular Romances of the West of England, 3rd edition 1916, page 349
  9. ^ "Lore:Spriggan". En.uesp.net. Retrieved 29 March 2019.