Cornwall Myths, Legends and Folklore

Cornish myths and legends

There are many myths and legends in Cornwall – let’s have a look

The mermaid of Zennor

This legend is said to be more than 600 years old. A local chorister fell in love with a mermaid and decides to live beneath the waves as the local villagers mourn the loss

Zennor villagers carved a mermaid chair in wood which is in place at St Senara`s church

It is said that on a summer evening you can hear the lovers singing


Beast of Bodmin moor

Since 1983 there have been over 60 sightings of the beast – said to be 3 – 5 ft long and is puma like in appearance

Most experts believe it is a large domestic cat or a large cat that has escaped from a local zoo



Legend says the devil when flying across Cornwall dropped a boulder which blocked the entrance to hell – in a battle between St Michael and the devil

The devil dropped the rock at a place known as HELLS STONE later changed to helston

To celebrate St Michael’s victory the locals danced through the streets which originated into the furry dance which is still done today.



Cornish for sea giant – first sighted in 1876

It is described as a hump backed creature with horns and bristles down its back.



Dozmary pool

Situated south of bolventor on bodmin moor, it is said to be bottomless

Legend says that king Arthurs legendary sword Excalibur was cast int o the pool by Sir Bedivere

A hand rose of the waters and grabbed the sword pulling down the sword int o the depths by the lady of the lake.


King Arthur was severely injured after a battle and was carried to the pool



Cornish Piskie

Like many Celtic countries Cornwall is rich in fairy lore, and Piskies are the fairy folk who feature most widely in Cornish folk tales. Although they sometimes have a wicked sense of humour, they will help anyone who treats them with respect. Not so long ago almost every Cornish household had some kind of Pisky charm to attract the luck that the good will of the Piskies was thought to bring

A Cornish Pixie is a mischievous, ill-behaved creature that causes serious amounts of damage when not restrained, known for wreaking havoc in professor lockharts classroom during Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.






Boscastle ghost bells

The tower of Forrebury church has no bells however during a storm it is said that you can hear church bells.


Lutey and the mermaid

Lutey was young who upon walking down a beach saw a mermaid who granted him 3 wishes if he could carry her to sea he asked for the following

  • The power to undo curses
  • The power to perform healing and protection magic
  • The powers to be inherited by his descendants


He was granted these wishes – he carried her out to sea but nearly got pulled under the water mesmerised by her singing, he was saved by his dog who began to bark.

Some 9 years later the mermaid appeared again, and they ran away together


Mermaid of Padstow

Cornish folklore explains the formation of the Doom Bar in Padstow with a tale of a mermaid seeking revenge. Lying on the estuary of the River Camel.

The Doom Bar is a sandbar that has been responsible for many a shipwreck. When a local sailor came across a beautiful woman while out hunting for seals, he begged her to be his wife. As she was a mermaid, she rejected his proposal, which deeply hurt him, leading him to shoot her. In her final moments, she placed a curse on the harbour, stating that it will be unusable from then on. Within moments a terrible storm arose, and a sandbar was formed across it, wrecking several ships. Since that day, the Doom Bar has proved a hazard for all sailors.

King Arthur

Arthur was the son of Uther and Ygerna.

At the age of 15, Arthur became king following the death of his father. He defeated the Saxons, the Picts and the Irish in various battles before enlisting the aid of his relative, Hoel of Brittany to restore the remainder of his kingdom. Next he married Guinevere, reputedly the most beautiful woman in Britain. She was the ward of Duke Cador and a lady of noble descent from the Romans.

The famous Round Table is said to have been constructed following a visit by Arthur to Cornwall. This was shortly after a brawl at court where Arthur’s knights had quarrelled over their precedence at table.