Long before colonizers came to settle in the Americas, the indigenous people had tales of short and bearded pale skinned people who lived in Appalachia before being driven off by the Cherokees. The legends said these people could not see well in the sun and so they came out at night, leading to the name of “moon-eyed people”. Some people even believe these mysterious nocturnal people were responsible for the pre-Columbian ruins found in the area.
Other cultures have similar stories traveling up and down the Appalachian Trail, and some attribute these descriptions to vikings explorers but others suspect fae origins to these legends of hauntingly pale folks who come at night and are associated with the moon.
These moon-eyed people were also said to be responsible for the unique “fairy crosses” found in the southern Appalachian mountains, which were said to form when the tears of a moon-eye fell to the ground. Many of the legends suggest that when the moon-eyes were driven out of the area they went down rather than west, becoming an underground people living in caves and tunnels that keep them isolated from the rest of society and away from the harsh light of the sun.
Christianization of pagan religions added a new layer of depth the origin tales of these fascinating crossed rocks. Fairy Stone State Park in southern Virginia tells the legendary lore as taking place well before settlers arrived when the woods were still full of fairies and nymphs dancing around dryads and other fae creatures. It is said that one day an elfin messenger arrived from far off lands to deliver news of the death of Christ. It is said the fae folk wept for him when they were told of how his crucifixion came to pass and in tribute their tears turned to crosses as they touched the earth.
“Fairy crosses” or “fairy stones” are actually a metamorphic mineral called staurolite which crystalizes in a unique twinning pattern that resembles a cross. They are only formed under specific geothermal conditions and processes, limiting their locations to a few rare sites around the globe. The largest known site is in southern Appalachia in the Georgia and Virginia region.