British Studies Web Pages

Myths, Legends, Fantasy...


An A-Z of Mythical Creatures

  1. The abominable snowman The name, popularized by Shipton's expedition to the Mount Everest in 1951, for the yeti.
  2. Banshee  A wailing spirit often a woman.
  3. Clootie The Scottish name for the Devil
  4. Dwarf  A race of small people, often living in caves who are renowned for mining and fashioning beautiful objects form precious metals and stones
  5. Elf In Teutonic and Norse mythology creatures who bring fertility.
  6. Fairy Small creatures that bestow gifts on newborn children. Never seen by humans.
  7. Goblin Bad tempered race related to dwarves. Known to enjoy disrupting human lives.
  8. Hag The hag is a fairy from the British Isles. She is said to be the traces of the most ancient goddesses and is regarded as the personification of winter. In the winter months she is usually old and very ugly looking. As the season changes though she becomes more and more beautiful, and younger.
  9. Imp Also known as a genie. Some of them are good, some not (‘impish’ ). They are often kept in a bottle and released when their help is needed
  10. Jack Frost Jack Frost is a figure from folklore, an elfish creature who personifies crisp, cold weather. He is said to leave those beautiful patterns on autumn leaves and windows on frosty mornings.
  11. Kraken in Norwegian sea folklore, the Kraken is an enormous sea monster which would sometimes attack ships and feed upon the sailors. It is part octopus and part crab, although others refer to it as a giant squid.
  12. Leprechaun Very small sprites who sometimes live in farmhouses or wine cellars. They are known to help. Leprechauns are called fairy cobblers, for they make shoes for elves.  According to popular belief, a leprechaun possesses at treasure (usually a pot of gold) which a human may obtain if he succeeds in capturing one, which is extremely difficult.
  13. Mermaid A marine creature with the head and upper body of a beautiful young maiden and with the lower body of a fish. Dangerous to sailors
  14. Nixes In Norse folklore, they are water spirits who try to lure people into the water.
  15. Ogre In folklore and fairy tales Ogres are creatures of very malignant disposition, who live on human flesh. They are larger and broader than a man but somewhat shorter than a giant.
  16. Pixie According to one myth, pixies were originally Druids who resisted Christianity, and the more they resisted the smaller they grew. Yet another myth tells of a race of people who were not good enough for heaven, nor bad enough for hell and were doomed to wander the earth forever.
  17. Quetzalcoatl The most popular god for the ancient Aztec culture of Central America, known as the Feathered Serpent God by the Maya.
  18. Roc Roc are gigantic birds, often referred to as 'the Great', and capable of carrying off elephants for food. They are found in various stories of 'The Thousand and One Nights', and are also mentioned to by Marco Polo on his travels. Their eggs, according to Sindbad the Sailor, could measure up to 50 paces in circumference.
  19. Sprite Sprites are water creatures. They are found only in places where it is serene and cool. They like to play with nymphs or torment butterflies. Sprites have one very important job, which is going around and changing the colours of a tree's leaves in Autumn.
  20. Troll In Scandinavian myth, trolls are ugly, malicious creatures and the enemies of mankind. They are much bigger and stronger than humans, and leave their caves only after dark to hunt. If they are exposed to sunlight they will instantly turn to stone.
  21. Urisk The Urisk is a solitary Scottish elf who lives in remote pools and rivers. He is friendly and likes the company of humans, but his curious appearance usually scares away those he approaches.
  22. Vampire An undead that rises from the grave during the night to drink the blood of the living in order to stay "alive".
  23. Will O’ the Wisp In folklore, they are thought to be imps or pixies leading victims to danger in swamps and heaths. Sometimes they are believed to be the spirits of stillborn children flitting between heaven and hell.
  24. Xanas A kind of nymphs or fairy, they are derived from Celtic mythology. They live near streams, and spend their day singing beautiful tunes and combing their wonderful hair.
  25. Yeti The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.
  26. Zips These small male faeries can be found in Mexico and Central America. Zips wear helmets and carry small spears, though they are very shy and tend to avoid humans. Zips care for and protect deer.

Produced in Poland by British Council © 2004. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.