by Lauren Cameron, Student Advisor
The UK has so many different myths and legends, most of which we’ve all been hearing about since we were little kids. Why not take the opportunity to study in the UK, surrounded by the myths of the Loch Ness Monster, or Robin Hood? Read on to find out about some UK myths, some of which you probably know, and others that may be new!
- The Loch Ness Monster
Of course, Nessie comes first. Almost everyone knows the story of the monster in the lake that people have been trying to spot for thousands of years (literally- the first recorded spotting was in 565 A.D.), but few have actually seen it. The world took an interest in this myth in the 1930’s, when a photograph was released, allegedly of the monster (we now know it was a hoax, but there are recordings that pre-date this!). Why not take a visit up to Loch Ness, Scotland, join the Nessie Hunters, and see what you see? Maybe you’ll be the next sighting – and if not, at least you’ll have seen some beautiful scenery.
- Robin Hood
I must have watched the Disney version 100 times, but did you know that Robin Hood and his Merry Men dates back to the 1400s? Ballads and tales have been written about Robin Hood for over a century and a half, and it’s a story we all grow up knowing. Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor, while still remaining loyal to his king. Set in Nottinghamshire, you can visit the Mighty Oak from the story in Sherwood Forest to this day! No one knows whether the legend is based off of a real person, but it is a tale we can all learn something from, even if its fictional.
- King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone
Still a relatively well known myth, King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone is a myth of strength and honour. The legend goes that the magician Merlin placed the sword Excalibur in a stone, and whoever removed it would be the rightful king. Arthur removed it, and went on to defeat the country against Saxon invaders, along with many other heroic tales. King Arthur is a central figure in English history, and though some of the legends surrounding him may not be true, we have centuries of literature to thank him for.
- Arthur’s Cave
Related to the last one, the resting place of King Arthur is a great Welsh Myth. The story goes that centuries ago, it was discovered by a shepherd. He took a hazel branch from the area, whittled it, and tried to sell it at a market, not knowing he was selling it to Merlin. The shepherd and Merlin returned to the area and found the cave, and found sleeping knights, one of whom was Arthur. When they woke, Arthur announced that it was not their time, and the knights went back to sleep. The shepherd never found the cave again, and neither did anyone else. If you can find this one, let me know, because then you’ll be the stuff of legends.
- The Ghost of the Grey Lady
Interested in ghosts? Take a visit to Longleat House, where legend has it you can see the wife of the 2nd Viscount of Weymouth. Why is she haunting the halls? The story goes that she was having an affair with the footman, and when her husband found he killed the footman and buried him in the cellar. He told his wife that the footman had left he estate, but his wife, Lady Louisa, did not believe this, and searched the halls for the footman every night until she died, and allegedly still does so.
- The Nine Maidens of Dundee
Near Dundee, Scotland, a farmer lived with his nine daughters. One day, he sent his eldest daughter to fetch water from the well. When she didn’t return, he sent his next daughter, and so on until they were all gone. When he went to investigate, he found them all murdered, and a dragon standing over them. The farmer fled, and returned with some towns people. One man named Martin slayed the dragon, and that place became known as “Strike-Martin”, and later, Strathmartine. You can still visit this place today, and see the stone marking the place where Martin slayed the dragon.
- Robert the Bruce
A former King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce is a well-known Scottish figure. What many people don’t know, is that after defeat in battle in the early 1300s, Robert the Bruce went into hiding in a cave, where he watched a spider build a web, against the harsh Scottish climate, for 3 months. When Robert the Bruce returned, he allegedly coined the phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, inspired by the spider and something we all still say today.
- Selkies and Kelpies
Scotland sure does love it’s water creature myths. Many Scottish myths contain stories of Selkies and Kelpies, two different kinds of mythical creatures. Selkies are creatures that can transform from human to seal and back, and the stories are thought to originate in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Kelpies, on the other hand, are water horses that can be found in Scottish lochs and rivers, and can take on human form. If you want to see some Kelpies, head over to Falkirk, where two giant Kelpie statues stand on the outskirts of the city.
There are so many more myths and legends to learn about in the UK. Some of these may have been familiar, while others were not, but I hope you spend some of your time in the UK researching some legends and visiting some sites! Who knows, maybe you’ll spot Nessie, or the Grey Lady.