The Bailiwick of Guernsey has a rich and fascinating heritage, which is influenced by local myth and legend. Rumours travel quickly in a small community like Guernsey, and stories are passed down through families, which creates some fascinating stories and superstitions! Read on to find out more.
The Fairy Ring
Much of Guernsey’s mythology involves fairies, or “pouques” as they are known locally, which were said to live in the west of the island. The Fairy Ring at Pleinmont is one of Guernsey’s best-known folklore sites, a mysterious dug out circle surrounded by stones. It is said that walking around the ring three times and making a wish will see it granted by the fairies.
The supposed entry point to the underground fairy world lies at Le Creux es Faies – Guernésiais for “the fairy cave” – a prehistoric passage grave on the L’Eree headland. This fascinating cave, built in the Neolithic period, can be accessed for your own exploration.
Le Creux es Faies
In addition to pouques. Guernsey was supposedly haunted by a number of ghoulish canines, including one named Tchico who roamed around the Tower Hill area of St Peter Port during the winter months. It was believed to have chains tied to its limbs, and hearing the rattling of its chains would have perilous implications.
Ghostly dogs were supposedly present all over the island, from “Le Chen Bodu” who lurked around the Clos du Valle, to “Le Varou” who stalked the neighbourhoods of L’Eree.
Such stories meant that it was the sighting of a black dog that signified bad luck in Guernsey, rather than the black cat superstition that exists elsewhere.
Speaking of black cats, Guernsey was also rumoured to have a significant population of witches in days gone by, and they also feature prominently in local folklore.
L'Eree Headland and Lihou Island
Unlike the traditional depiction of the witch riding a broomstick, Guernsey’s witches flew using invisible wings, suggesting some relation to the pouques. They also primarily inhabited the west of the island, and their main meeting place was at the “Catioroc” headland where Le Creux es Faies is also situated.
The island’s wizards and witches supposedly convened there after dark on Friday nights in a ceremony known as “le Sabbat des Sorciers”. However, supernatural forces coming from the priory on nearby Lihou Island often disrupted the sorcerers, and they would move to other locations including Rocquaine, Le Longfrie and Les Eturs.
While their population once thrived, those suspected of practicing witchcraft were persecuted in the 16th and 17th centuries. During this period, 44 suspects were burnt at the stake at the bottom of Tower Hill in St Peter Port, while another 35 were banished from the island.
Guernsey Museum at Candie Gardens
Guernsey’s rich folklore is an intriguing subject, and you can explore it further when visiting the island.
The Folklore of Guernsey exhibition at Guernsey Museum explores Guernsey’s myths and legends, from tales of pouques and witches to the Devil’s footprint!
The National Trust Folk & Costume Museum at Saumarez Park also tells the fascinating story of Guernsey life in years gone by.
National Trust Folk & Costume Museum
Want to learn more about our fascinating folklore? Plan your trip to Guernsey today!