Telling Tales

THE MYTHS, LEGENDS AND FOLKLORE OF ENGLAND

England’s history is interwoven with the threads of myth, legend and folklore. These stories shape our understanding of our past and our present. 

Join us as we tell tales from England’s past and uncover the history behind them, from St George to sea-monsters, medieval ghosts and buried treasure.

Help us to map England's folklore

Every village, parish, town and city has its own local legends, from ghostly tales to fantastical creatures. 

With your help, we are collecting stories from across England on our interactive online map. Visit the link below and click Submit a Tale to share a story and explore those shared by others. 

Explore the map

Tales from English Folklore

  • The Tale of St Hild and The Snakes

    The story of the determined Abbess who banished a plague of poisonous snakes from Whitby Abbey.

  • The Tale of the Dancers of Stanton Drew

    How were the Stanton Drew Stone Circles formed? Legend says that it began with a wedding long, long ago... 

  • The tale of the cult of Mithras

    In a dark underground temple, Roman soldiers worshipped a little-known God. But what did initiation to this secretive cult entail? 

  • The Tale of Charles II and the Royal Oak

    King Charles II escapes from the Battle of Worcester to Boscobel House, where the locals help him into a rather ingenious hiding place...

  • The Tale of the Wronged Lady of Okehampton

    A local legend surrounding Devon's Okehampton Castle tells of a murderous woman, doomed to pay an eternal penance for her alleged sins.

  • The Tale of the Wild Man of Orford

    In the once busy sea port of Orford with its crowning castle, a tale is told of a hairy human-like creature that emerged from the sea. 

Making the map

with Clive Hicks-Jenkins

BRINGING MYTH AND LEGEND TO LIFE

We visited artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins and digital experts Gravitywell to reveal how traditional craftsmanship and modern technology were brought together to create the map of myth, legend and folklore. 

EXPLORE THE MAP

  • Dragons and their origins

    Where did the dragon myth originate, and why are dragon stories so widespread across at least two continents? Carolyne Larrington, Professor of medieval European literature, investigates.

  • Where do myths, legends and folktales come from?

    Mythical tales are well established in English culture. But where do these stories come from? Carolyne Larrington examines the origins of dragons, kelpies, hobs and even the legend of King Arthur.

  • Explore more stories on our blog

    Discover more stories around myths, legends and folklore plus a range of other topics on our blog. 

Tell us a story for your chance to win

Aged 5–14? Got a creative imagination? Do you think you could tell us a story in 500 words or fewer? 

Be inspired by one of our historic sites this summer and create your own story for a chance to win some amazing prizes for you, your family and your school.

How to enter

Stories

Explore the myths, legends and folklore of England

Stay tuned throughout the year as we uncover more tales of English myth, legend and folklore...

Help us bring England's stories to life

By joining English Heritage, not only will you enjoy free access to 400+ historic sites, discounted event tickets and our quarterly Members' Magazine. You'll also be playing a role in bringing the stories of England's history to life for future generations to enjoy. 

Join today from just £4 per month and start exploring England's historical and mythical past. 

Join today

Places of Legend

  • Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

    These gothic abbey ruins were the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, and home to the snake-banishing St Hild.

  • Tintagel Castle, Cornwall

    Ancient island castle steeped in legend and said to be the place of King Arthur's conception.

  • More places

    Explore all 400+ of the historic places in our care, many of them associated with myth, legend and folklore. 

More to explore

  • Legendary Holidays

    Stay in the places where myths and legends were made with our deluxe holiday cottages. From Lindisfarne Priory to Dover Castle, enjoy exclusive access to a historic site after it closes to the public.

  • Modern Myths & Legends

    These Our Monsters: The English Heritage Book of New Folktale, Myth and Legend. Featuring work eight from well-known writers, this book tells stories inspired by the myths, legends and lore attached to historical sites within the care of English Heritage.

  • Join us for a legendary summer

    Make this summer legendary with our season of events. Witness Romans clashing, brave knights battling it out in real tournaments, and jousters displaying feats of strength and skill to rival today’s top athletes.

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