Historical and Archaeological Evidence that Fairies Existed

The Widespread Belief in the "Wee Folk"

How could so many cultures all over the world have their own version of the fairy? Is it possible that these fairy tales and legends come from some hidden truth? Or perhaps the original human beings held a belief in the wee folk and this belief spread across the world with each migrating tribe.

If we go back to ancient times and travel around the world visiting each continent and each large culture, we would see that every one of them held some sort of a belief in fairy-like creatures. Of course they all had different names for fairies, but the beliefs were similar in that these creatures were usually of small stature, some had wings, and all were mysterious and/or dangerous to human beings. This belief continued into the Dark Ages in Europe and even a large amount of the North American Native tribes held their own beliefs in the "little people". Many believe that fairies exist, even today in our modern, science-driven world.

But is there any evidence that these beings ever existed? We will examine some of the potential archaeological and historical evidence to support the widespread belief in fairies. And then you can decide for yourself whether to believe...


The Broighter Gold Boat

The Broighter Gold Boat is an archaeological find that is very special to the Irish people, even to this day. At first glance of the picture above, one might expect that this boat is life-size but in reality this boat is quite small. It measures to about seven inches in length and about four inches wide. But why would anyone make a small boat out of gold?

This boat dates to the first century, B.C. and was discovered in Ireland in the late 1800s by a farmer. Along with the Broighter Gold Boat came a discovery of other treasured gold items dating to Ireland's Iron Age. All of these archaeological finds are in the national museum in Dublin and are said to be the greatest archaeological find for the country of Ireland. Quite a bit of fighting over the items occurred in the early 1900s with Great Britain trying to claim the items for themselves, but inevitably the items have stayed in Ireland where they were originally found.

The question is, why did the people of Ireland make a tiny boat of gold? Historians claim that this boat was made specifically as a means to carry offerings to the Manx sea god - Manannan Mac Lir. In fact, this is what the museum will tell you if you ask about the Broighter Gold Boat. But I have a different theory - I believe this boat was actually a boat of the wee folk's. There is too much detail put into the Broighter Gold Boat for it to merely be a votive offering piece. It even comes complete with tiny oars to paddle the boat! Quite possibly it might have been a royal fairy's boat when the fae would take to their raides. But I am positive that no one would ever convince science or history of this idea.

What about the gold torc and other gold items found along with the boat that were of human size? Well, perhaps this might disprove my theory, but we can only imagine the possibilities.

What do you think?

Perhaps the little people lived in homes like this?
Perhaps the little people lived in homes like this? | Source

The "Hobbit" of Flores Island

There have been many legends of small people in dozens of cultures throughout the world. Some of the Native American tribes have their stories of "little people", just as the Irish have their legends of the "wee folk". On an island in Indonesia, there are legends of the Ebu Gogo who were said to be small-statured people that lived on Flores island until being killed off in recent centuries. These are just a few legends of many.

The Ebu Gogo are attributed to having left behind the body of the "Hobbit" found in Flores in 2003. The body was found by a team of archaeologists who were searching specifically for the remains of human beings, but they came across the remains of homo floresiensis or what they called "the hobbit". This human-type being is said to have been about three and a half feet tall and lived approximately 50,000 years ago.

If we have archaeological evidence that small people existed, perhaps these are the beings that have spawned legends of the "wee folk" throughout time and culture.

But the hobbit of Flores is not the only small human-like being to have been discovered. Is it possible that these small people were a world-wide phenomenon and were mistaken for "little people" or "fairies" by modern-day homo sapiens?

The tattered flag behind the cup and horn is known as the "fairy flag" because of the legends surrounding its existence.
The tattered flag behind the cup and horn is known as the "fairy flag" because of the legends surrounding its existence. | Source

The MacLeod Clan's "Fairy Flag"

The tale of the fairy flag has captured the imagination and fascination of hundreds of people throughout the years. The fairy flag is a tattered eighteen-inch-squared piece of yellow or brown fabric that is said to have been given to the Scottish MacLeod clan centuries ago. It is said to have certain magical powers and has been used to aid the MacLeod clan in various battles and sicknesses. It can still be seen in the Donvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, alongside other MacLeod relics such as Rory Mor's horn (pictured above).

The fairy flag doesn't look like much now, but years ago it was said that it was a gold color adorned with red "elf" spots and red crosses. Legend has it that the MacLeod clan was gifted it by Titania, a fairy queen of Scotland. If the flag was unfurled three times, its power would also be unfurled but it could only be unfurled by the clan's first-born sons. Other legends say that the fairy flag was earned by a MacLeod family member by his defeat of an evil spirit during the Holy Crusades in a foreign land. And another tale claims that the fairy flag can be dated back to the MacLeods' Norse Viking origins.

No matter the history of the flag, many people still believe that its origins can be attributed to the "good folk" or fairies.

The mummy that was found in the San Pedros Mountains is missing today.
The mummy that was found in the San Pedros Mountains is missing today. | Source

The Tiny Mummy

In the San Pedros Mountains in Wyoming, U.S., there was a story of a tiny mummy discovered in 1932. The body was passed around for historians and the like to inspect it and determine its origins. Unfortunately this tiny mummy was lost in the 1950s, never to be seen again. But we do still have a picture of it, as you can see to the right.

This tiny mummy was said to have been in a sitting position, but if it was to stand it wouldn't have been taller than two and a half feet. Its head and all of its features were small but proportionate to its supposed height. The thought that human-type creatures might have lived in the United States backs up the belief in the "little people" by various native tribes. Even in modern times, some tribes will leave offerings in the mountains for these "little people". These little people were said to be magical and/or extremely vicious...or both.

Was the tiny mummy in the San Pedros Mountains archaeological evidence that the little people or "fairies" may have existed at one time?

Fairies: Magical or Mistaken?

We can speculate that these little people mummies and artifacts found in various countries may have been the reason legends of fairies have circulated our books for centuries. Maybe our fairy tales are simply stories of little people created by our ancestors to explain what we didn't understand. If these little people liked to stay isolated from the taller human beings (us), that means that they were most likely shrouded in mystery. And the things that we don't understand are things that we tend to blow out of proportion. Maybe the little people were actually physical beings that we turned into magical beings, for our ancestors' lack of experience and knowledge of these beings.

Or maybe fairies were something completely different from these "little people" and they have just been lumped together in one category because its easier for us to understand it this way. Perhaps fairies were indeed magical or supernatural beings that were a worldwide phenomenon during the times of our ancient ancestors. If they were spiritual beings, perhaps they still exist today...

Participate in a poll:

Which do you believe about the fairies?

  • They were a smaller type of human being that lived centuries ago.
  • They were supernatural beings that still live to this day.
  • They were nothing but fun stories made up by our ancestors.
See results without voting

© 2014 Author Nicole Canfield

More by this Author

Comments 38 comments

limpet profile image

limpet 2 years ago from London England

I spend a great deal of tyme in the woodlands of South Buckinghamshire and the moorlands of Wessex and i can vouch for locales that are so secluded that only a few humans dare venture within. On the other hand clusters of habitation merely go to emphasise corporate greed and consumer gullibility.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Dolores - That's a really good point, and one I've heard before but in other facets. I'll have to research Tabby a bit myself! :)

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

I've often wondered where the idea of the Little People came from. When so many cultures have such tales, they must have come from somewhere. When I was reading up on the Bronte sisters, I read that their housekeeper, Tabby, said that the factories of the Industrial Revolution frightened them off, that they disappeared with the introduction of our modern world.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Thomas - Awesome! Never heard of it but now I MUST research! Thanks so much.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

I just came across something that you might be interested in. Has anyone heard of Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS)? It causes people with slight or severe visual impairments to experience visual hallucinations in which they see little people or objects. A scientist on the radio just now was saying that CBS may explain why stories about goblins and fairies are so prevalent in our cultures. It made me think of this hub!

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my hub. I truly appreciate the support and feedback. Yes, I enjoy studying and writing about the wee folk, in many aspects...and I have been studying them for the last decade. Thanks again!

LisaKeating 2 years ago

Congratulations on HOTD! I found your article nicely written and interesting. The photos definitely enhanced the information and added interest to the topic. It is obvious that you are passionate about the topic and did considerable research. As a former English teacher, I enjoyed the literary connection to the topic. So many of our modern-day stories are based on mythology and folk tales. I am not convince that fairies exist, but people like you help all of us stay open to the possibilities of this mysterious realm in which we live.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

Loved the article. I fancy myself an open-minded skeptic:) meaning, I love the stories of legend and don't rule them out unless I positively can, but tend to air on the side of conventional logic.

That being said, humans have been around for over 100,000 years and there have been and are entire tribes of little people. For example, the pygmies of Africa. And with the pygmy tribes it isn't the result of a medical anomaly such as dwarfism. They are truly just little people, the tallest not even reaching 5 feet.

When one looks at the entire breadth of history, there have probably been thousands of tribes like this at one time or another. As to magical powers, can't be entirely ruled out, but I tend to be skeptical:) Wonderful read!

Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

Kitty, congratulations on your HOTD!

I've read the comments and watched the beautiful video, but, for some reason, I can't bring myself to read the "evidence" of fairies because I know they are constantly working to make the plants grow and guard babies and animals. So, I guess reading this will somehow take away the mystique that I have of them. I did vote in the poll, though.

You must enjoy your studies and reading about the little people to spend so much time doing so. Blessings!

MJennifer profile image

MJennifer 2 years ago from Arizona

Kitty, it was such a pleasure reading this interesting article. As serendipity would have it, I'd been reading about the little people of Iceland recently. Although I'm a skeptic by nature, there's nothing illogical about thinking that there have been smaller, mysterious hominids that captivated the imaginations and interest of the taller races. I'd like to think so …

Congratulations on the HOTD -- great reading!

Best -- Mj

KawikaChann profile image

KawikaChann 2 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

Nicely done, and congrats on HOTD!! Have an awesome weekend. Upvoted/interest/follow. Peace. Kawi.

WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago

Congrats on HOTD! I was like, Hey, I know that hub! LOL. Well deserved!

Richard Dawkins 2 years ago

A very amusing piece - and well-written, too.

It astonishes me, however, that antiquity is taken as conferring some kind of authority to myths and fairy tales, as if there had been no progression in our understanding of the world, what is in it, how it came to be here and how it works, during the many millennia of human endeavour!

A short answer to the question, "Why not fairies?" posed by another reader is simply that under scientific scrutiny there is not a shred of real evidence for their existence and their existence would contradict everything we DO know about physics and the biology of evolution by natural selection - for which there is a vast and overwhelmingly convincing amount of physical, palaeontological, morphological and genetic evidence.

Little boats were made by people for the same reason that little dolls, little trains and little houses are still made by people - for amusement, for entertainment, as a demonstration of prowess in a particular craft or as religious totems.

Similar, rational and evidence-based explanations of all the other 'evidences' for the existence of fairies given here can be convincingly made without the slightest intellectual strain.

So why not fairies? Because all the evidence - and there is a heck of a lot of it - is stacked against them.

However, as a whimsical and light-hearted bit of nonsense that makes - I trust - no serious claims for the authenticity of its central argument, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Thank you.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Kitty, congratulations on receiving HOTD for this wonderful hub. I just had to listen to that video music again, it is so relaxing.

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Lots of interesting information here. Congratulations on HOTD!

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Hi Kitty. I feel that so many cultures have believed in them in their folklore that there must be some basis. Just as there is for giants. Whether they were just very small statured people or faeries or elves etc, who knows, but there is much food for thought. The gold boat though would not have floated though as it would be too heavy so I don't imagine it was designed as a working craft for tiny beings. Voted up.

Baby-Boomer-58 profile image

Baby-Boomer-58 2 years ago

It is hard to imagine big fingers creating such tiny oars. :) Voted up.

heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

Loved this hub when you first published it and it is so deserving of Hub of the Day (along with so many other hubs of yours)! Congrats and have a blessed weekend!

ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Very interesting and informative hub indeed!

You presented it very nicely with references and pictures.

Voted up and congratulations for a well reserved HOTD!

Artois52 profile image

Artois52 2 years ago from England

Really interesting Hub. I believe that there is much that we don't know about the world around us and that there is at east a grain of truth in all myths and legends.

modernalchemyst profile image

modernalchemyst 2 years ago from New England

As always, an excellent hub, Kitty! The fae are certainly a fascinating topic, albeit one I haven't studied very much, so it was nice to read such a well thought out and researched piece.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi kitty, yes the little homo floresiensis was in fact at least six skeletons not just the one, which is why they proved that they were in fact little people compared to one having something wrong with him. they were just under 3ft tall, so that's amazing! I had never heard of the Broighter Gold Boat! I will have to go and investigate! the trouble is scientists today always have to catagorise people, so if they were small their brain capacity would make them less intelligent, but of course we know that's not true, you only have to look at primordial dwarfs to know they are intelligent, so yes I quite believe there were even smaller little people that people called fairies, it makes sense, and one day they will really prove it, great hub! voted up and shared, nell

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Thomas - Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. They are merely theories, so I don't expect everyone to believe. ;) However, I've been studying folklore and mythology of the fae for many years...and I enjoy putting up such theories to the public for people to ponder on. I do believe that many of our legends and myths come from some truth, be it stretched too far or not far enough. If you studied the fae/wee folk/fairies, you would see that many of the faeries were not under 1 foot tall at all. The main example of this misconception stems from such stories as Peter Pan where the "pixies" have become our modern image for the fairies, when in the past our ancestors believed most fairies to be at least 2 feet tall while many of them were the height of humans! For instance, the belief in the "elves"...elves were thought to be taller than humans, and not the tiny height of the elves that we portray to be the helpers of Santa Claus in modern tales.

Thomas Swan profile image

Thomas Swan 2 years ago from New Zealand

An interesting piece! My skepticism is too much to accept your theories, but it I enjoyed reading it. Here are some other theories and analysis:

The boat could have been a gift or trophy for a distinguished leader or boatman. We often present people with scaled-down models of bigger items to acknowledge their achievements. In two centuries, will we look at rowing trophies as boats for fairies? I hope not!

Regarding the "little people", what about the pygmy tribe that live in Africa in the present day? I'm sure some of them are less than 4 foot tall.

Small skeletons could (and should) be pygmies, children, babies, or a person born with dwarfism. There are many dwarves living in the world today! If we're going to invoke fairies, I would expect the skeletons to be less than 1 foot tall... given the types of myths I've read.

The fairy flag seems like one of many superstitions. Of course, superstitions are not limited to fairies. We have ghosts, spirits, deities, vampires, werewolves, and sacred animals too. The work of Pascal Boyer has beautifully explained why counterintuitive beings feature so prolifically in our culture. In short, stories involving these beings are memorable and easily transmitted between people, thus, they survive in cultures. However, the type of being is typically one which only deviates minimally from the norm. So if a fairy is small and can fly, it will not violate most other intuitions such as whether or not it can read minds, pass through walls, or evade death. Beings that are too bizarre generally don't survive in culture.

Having said all this, I'm agnostic about the existence of such things. I don't see any reliable evidence for them (not here or anywhere), but I see no reason to proclaim that they are impossible. As a result, I don't find the question particularly appealing, however, I do find the question of why other people believe in fairies to be absolutely fascinating! The work of Pascal Boyer goes a long way towards answering it.

DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Incredible write up here and the The Broighter Gold Boat is so beautiful the fascinating facts here is such a learning experience to me.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 2 years ago from malang-indonesia

I always love reading about the ancient things and this hub provide me such a wonderful information. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Heidi - Yes! The Menehune I've written about in my hub on Native American beliefs in the "little people". Thanks for reading, as always I appreciate your support.

Phyllis - No, actually it's titled "Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry", I think it was an additional volume to the Celtic Twilight book and the like. Thanks again!

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Celtic Twilight? One of my favorite books and Yeats is one of my favorite authors. I have ancestral ties to Ireland, too, Kitty -- so, I fully understand that deep longing. Ireland is like a spiritual home for me.

heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

Evolution has taken so many different paths, it's not out of the realm of possibility that there may be races of wee folk throughout our planet (or universe, make that universes). It also reminds me of the legends of the Menehune in the Pacific. Interesting hub, as always! P.S. I'm still looking for some fairies, especially the housecleaning kind. I'll keep on the lookout. :)

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

tsmog - Glad you enjoyed!

mg singh - Thanks.

Phyllis - I hadn't heard of the concept of leaving doors open, but I would absolutely believe it! I'm in the middle of reading W. B. Yeats work on Folk tales and Fairy tales of the Irish Peasantry at the moment and the stories of the wee folk in his books are fantastic! I actually have read a few times about certain trees being sacred to the fae, i.e. Hawthorn and Elder trees. And that many people will throw a fit if others try to cut these faery trees down. I LONG to visit Ireland...I am half Irish and have always wanted to go there. I can't explain the longing to go...but it's deep. Thanks for sharing! :)

CMHypno - I agree wholeheartedly! Thanks for reading.

sujaya - Thank you.

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

need them now in mundane world kit

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 2 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Interesting hub about fairies. I think most of our myths and legends had a basis in what people at the time were seeing and experiencing, whether it was encountering smaller humans like the Indonesian 'hobbits' or glimpsing supernatural beings like fairies.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Kitty, I forgot to also mention that in recent years, the construction of a major new thoroughfare was halted because of a faerie tree that was in the way. Plans were changed so the road would go around the tree, leaving it in quite a large space of grass. That is delightful !!! My brother has been to Ireland a few times and he says the Irish are very much aware of the fae and give them the space they need in order to avoid problems in their life.

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Hi Kitty. I think there is are so many cultures that believe in faeries and have legends, traditions and rituals that lend credence to the existence of faerie folk. Did you know that in Ireland that if a cottage was built on a faerie path the front door and back kitchen door had to be precisely aligned on the path? Within the cottage that area through the path had to be kept clear and the doors had to be left unlocked so the fae could go through on their journey. If their path was blocked, misfortune would fall upon the cottage and folks who lived there. I believe in faeries. Very interesting article you wrote.

MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Interesting post about a common subject, but more a fantasy

tsmog profile image

tsmog 2 years ago from Escondido, CA

Nice! A fan of little people or wee people since elementary school they always have a spot in my heart. I used to venture here and there digging for info on them. This article has revived that interest and I thank you. I learned a lot.


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 2 years ago from the Ether Author

Eric - Exactly! :)

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Why not fairies?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    kittythedreamer profile image

    Author Nicole Canfield (kittythedreamer)1,885 Followers
    440 Articles

    Kitty has been independently researching and studying the fae for over 15 years. She enjoys sharing what she's learned with her readers.

    Click to Rate This Article