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Otherworld North East
Studies in the Unexplained

Website design and content © Otherworld North East 2003-2015
unless otherwise stated

The opinions expressed on this website belong to the individual authors, who also retain copyright of their own material

North East Paranormal | Newcastle Paranormal | Durham Paranormal | Northumberland Paranormal

Otherworld North East
Studies in the Unexplained

Website design and content © Otherworld North East 2003-2016
unless otherwise stated.

The opinions expressed on this website belong to the individual authors, who also retain copyright of their own material.

North East Paranormal | Newcastle Paranormal | Durham Paranormal | Northumberland Paranormal


The Rise and Fall of Goblindom - Goblins vs Ghosts

Article by Tony Liddell, April 23rd 2016https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy#/media/File:I_samma_%C3%B6gonblick_var_hon_f%C3%B6rvandlad_till_en_undersk%C3%B6n_liten_%C3%A4lva.jpgIn 1903, The Folk-Lore Society published its fourth volume in the County Folk-Lore series, collected by M.C. Balfour of Belford, Northumberland. In it, Balfour very aptly named a section ‘Goblindom’, which collated the folk-tales of Northumberland specifically referring to the ‘Little Folk’ that for centuries were a supernatural staple in northern English popular belief and lore. Many of the supernatural entities in this article originate in the sixteenth century - long before the rise of Spiritualism in the nineteenth century, and in these earlier entities many of the facets often now regarded as ghostly can be seen (in particular poltergeist activity). When it came to the ‘Little Folk’, Northern England had no room for ‘Tinkerbell’ - even the fairest of fairies had their dark side in our region’s folklore.

Of interest is how in many cases Goblin or Faerie lore morphed in time into ghostlore or what some now somewhat dramatically class as ‘demon’-lore. This is a question posed many times, but again is worth repeating: Many folk often take ghost tales at their word, but when a ghost story has developed out of a goblin story, are the believers in the tale really believing in goblins and faeries? Moving that argument on a little - if investigators in the field or eye witnesses to ghostly events claim to have encountered one of these morphed ‘sprites’ can it be seen as proof that the experience isn’t real, or conversely that the ‘goblin’ still holds sway? Perhaps, looking from the opposite viewpoint, the culture of goblins was simply used back in the sixteenth century to explain what our own popular culture now regards as ghosts? Whether cultural, psychological or even supernatural, it is a fascinating process.

So who, or rather what were the creatures said to torment us? Bogies (otherwise known as Bogles, Bug-a-Boos, Bogey-Beasts, Brags, Bullbeggars) were one of the most common form of ‘goblin’ reported in the North East of England, and unfortunately also classed as one of the most dangerous. Their sole purpose of existence appears to have been the misery of humankind, to which they applied themselves with great vigour both alone and in packs.  Bogies were said to be members of the Unseelie Court, the race of faerie-folk whose aim it was to kill, hurt and destroy anything human. Bogies were often thought of as shapeshifters, so not one of the creatures would look the same as another, and in some cases were said to be creatures of no form, so no weapon known to man could harm them. In some legends though, fire was a sure way to kill a Bogie, but the creature would have to be held in the flames by pitchforks until the moment of death. Brags were also a form of Bogie. According to the folklorist Balfour, Brags were found in many places throughout Northumberland and Durham. One account of such a creature was the Picktree Brag, which terrorised the Picktree area, often changing its shape to that of a calf or a naked man with no head, or simply to a horse where he tricked the local populace into riding him, whereupon the Brag would throw them into ponds or over hedges. Like most Bogies, Bullbeggars were shapeshifters that excelled in tormenting travellers. Bullbeggars tended to take human form, pretending to be sick or injured on the road, and when approached by a concerned person, would leap to their feet and give chase, increasing in size to massive proportions and roaring as they came. If the Bullbeggar didn’t fancy that particular torment, it could become invisible, terrorising an unwary traveller with its phantom footfalls following the poor soul on their journey. A Barguest (or Padfoot) was also said to be a shapeshifter, similar in nature to a Bogie and was reported across counties north of Leeds. The creature in its natural form was said to resemble a huge black dog, with flaming eyes and horns, and acted as a death omen for those that saw the creature.











Stories of Dwarfs aren’t as common in the British Isles as they are in the Continent, especially in Germany, but we do have our share of them.  Generally, Dwarfs are described as short, stocky and very hairy, often dressed in animal skins, and like the rest of Goblindom, possessing a short temper with humankind.

The Duergar are your football hooligans of the Dwarf Class in Goblindom. These creatures, often described as ‘dark dwarfs’ were malicious and evil, and liked nothing more than to hurt, maim or kill humans.  The tale of the Simonside Dwarfs tells of a traveller’s close encounter with the Duergar when he  got himself lost in the Simonside Hills on his way to Rothbury on a winter’s evening. Groping blindly through the dark and freezing cold, the traveller noticed with some relief a small stone hut a short distance ahead with a blazing fire in the hearth.  Entering the hut he found it to be empty, so sat on one of the stone seats by the fire and fed it some kindling. Shortly, a dwarf entered wearing lambskins and moleskins and scowled at the startled (and now rather worried) man, but said nothing and sat on a stone seat opposite him across the fire… cont…

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The Capethwaite Bogie

This bogie was said to haunt the lands by Milnthorpe in Northumberland.  Unlike many of his brethren, Capelthwaite was often kind and useful to the local farm-folk, taking on the shape of a huge black dog and aiding in the region’s sheep herding.  However, as helpful as he was to the locals, his true bogie nature came out to play with strangers to the area, who he would terrorise and chase without remorse.  Finally, a priest was called in to force the bogie out of the area, and he trapped Capelthwaite beneath the River Bela in an exorcism.