Cornish Knockers: The Mischievous Spirits of Cornwall's Mines

Cornish Knockers: The Mischievous Spirits of Cornwall's Mines

Cornwall's rich mining heritage is not only steeped in history but also in folklore. Among the many legends that have emerged from the depths of the county's mines are those of the mischievous spirits known as "Cornish Knockers." In this blog post, we venture into the labyrinthine tunnels of Cornwall's mining history to uncover the tales and mysteries of these elusive underground beings.

The Origins of the Knockers

Cornish Knockers, often described as small, impish creatures, have been a part of Cornwall's mining lore for centuries. Their name is derived from the eerie knocking or tapping sounds they are said to make deep within the mines, alerting miners to potential dangers.

Appearance and Behavior

Described as small, wiry figures with lantern-like eyes and tiny pickaxes, Knockers are believed to be supernatural beings. They are known for their playful yet often helpful nature, guiding miners to rich veins of ore or warning them of impending cave-ins by creating their distinctive knocking sounds.

Legends and Folklore

The legends of Cornish Knockers vary, but common themes emerge. Miners would often leave gifts of food, such as pasties and clotted cream, at the entrance of the mines to appease the Knockers and gain their favor. Some tales suggest that the Knockers could become mischievous if not treated with respect, leading to accidents or lost tools.

Mining Superstitions

Knockers were considered an essential part of the mining culture in Cornwall. Miners believed that the spirits inhabited the deeper reaches of the mines, and their knocking sounds were both reassuring and eerie. Superstitions surrounding the Knockers persisted for generations, shaping the rituals and beliefs of the miners.

Modern Interpretations

In modern times, the legends of the Cornish Knockers continue to intrigue, not only as folklore but also as a testament to the challenges and dangers faced by Cornwall's miners throughout history. Today, they serve as a reminder of the rich tapestry of Cornwall's mining heritage.


The legends of the Cornish Knockers add a unique and enchanting dimension to Cornwall's mining history. These mischievous spirits, with their lantern eyes and tapping sounds, are a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the miners who toiled in the depths of the earth. As you explore Cornwall's mining heritage, keep an ear out for the faint knocking sounds, and you may just sense the presence of these timeless and mysterious underground beings.

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