Fables and folklore are all part of a country’s history: from werewolves to giants and everything in between, we’re often told these frightening, gruesome tales as children. But where exactly do these stories originate from, and which locations should you be heading to if you’re on the voyage of discovery for monster legends?
Trolls have Scandinavian origin, a mythical, ogre-like creature found in stories such as “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Trolls are known for hiding out and scaring prey with their ghastly features and large stature. Trolls were thought to be hunted by the hero of Thor with his hammer, having been rumoured to fear steel and have an aversion to sunlight. Scandinavians have fully embraced their troll history: Norwegians add them to their souvenirs and signs, they even have a troll park! If trolls are nothing but a fictional tale, the story is enough to encourage visitors to Scandinavia, along with the magnificent scenery.
Giants was a phrase first termed in 1297: a monster with a human appearance but the size and strength born from Greek mythology. There are many accounts of giants dating back to Old Testament, describing them with large physical proportions such as Goliath who comes into battle with David. The story goes that the Giants Causeway in Ireland was built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill, after he was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant Benandonner. The causeway was built so that the two could meet and duel. Although the ending to the tale is somewhat skewed, leaning towards both giants individually depending on which country you’re from, it remains a popular place to visit.
Hailing from both England and Transylvania, Vampires are blood sucking living beings that caused mass panic in the 18th century via an influx of vampire superstition in Western Europe. At the time, some were accused of being vampires and thus victimised, even killed or stabbed with a stake post-death. In today’s society, vampires are considered fictitious: presented in films and literature such as the Twilight series as both good and bad characters. Certain vampire hunting societies still say they have sighted vampires and continue to search for them.
Loch Ness Monster
In the Scottish Highlands, legend has it that a big old beastie can be found, deep within Loch Ness. A particular deep loch, there have been sightings of the “monster” since 565 A.D. when a man claimed to have been bitten by the monster. The sightings have continued over the years, and the fascination with it. During the seventies, Robert Rines investigated the murky depths of the loch, which resulted in a few images with possible tails and fins. Unfortunately it’s claimed that global warming may have caused the death of dear Nessy and whilst many scientists have dismissed the Loch Ness monster as a myth, it still draws a tourist crowd.
Rumour has it that an ape-like creature with a hairy and muscular physique around 7-10ft tall, roams the forests and land surrounding the Pacific Northwest in America. Also known as Sasquatch, their existence is questioned by scientists, whilst others whole-heartedly believe its presence from the images claiming to be Bigfoot. There have been many debates about the images that people have seen: some say they believe the images are simply misidentified animals or hoaxes for publicity.
The Candle Dragon
The story of the candle dragon is a well-known across China, mentioned in ancient texts as far back as 500BC. Legend has it that the candle dragon, Zhu Yin, created the changes between night and day and the seasons: when the dragon’s eyes were open, daytime occurred and when closed it became night. Zhu Yin is thought to have changed the seasons by inhaling, to bring summer and exhaling brought a cold winter. With a human head and serpent body, the candle dragon lived in a magical mountain near the North West Sea and is referred to as one of the twelve Chinese creation gods.
You’ll often find that most countries have their very own myths, legends and monsters, leap into these tales on your next trip and you’re sure to be surprised by what you find.