The Duergar Dwarves of Northumberland, Northumberland
With our very mixed ancestry British folk legends borrow from many cultures, not least the Norsemen who once held large tracts of the land, and terrorised more. The Vikings had scary folk tales of supernatural dwarves, and the Northumberland Duergar legend is surely linked to them – the Old Norse for dwarf was dvergar.
In Northumberland the duergar haunted, or haunt still, the Simonside Hills above Rothbury. It was their delight to lead travellers and shepherds astray when the dank mists fell on the moors, their ghostly lights leading the unwary into bogs to struggle and even drown.
There is a story of a cynic who didn’t believe the tales, though when he went to investigate the area to disprove the legend he took the precaution of bringing a hefty stave. After wandering in vain he thought to trick the creatures by pretending to be lost, and was immediately rewarded with the sight of a faint light leading him on. The cautious cynic narrowly avoided a dunking in a pit, but lobbed a rock in the damp ground to fool the duergar. He soon found they were sharper than he expected, a crowd of the devilish things attacking him, his stave wielded to little effect. When the bruised and battered man woke at dawn he swore never to doubt the duergar again; and never to return to the misty hills.
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