Spriggans are said to be the security force behind the fairy worlds. Unlike some fairies which serve to treat or trick humans, the Spriggans are said to measure out justice to humans who have unduly crossed fairies. They would dole out punishments, both big and small, to anyone who dared mess too much with the otherworld.
Although Spriggans are said to be quite small, that doesn’t mean their punishments are any easier to escape. They typically appear to humans as small, wizened creatures lurking in the ruins of castles. However, don’t let their initial appearance make you feel more comfortable...it is said they have shapeshifting abilities can quickly grow to gigantic proportions.
Spriggans are naturally hateful and wary of humans. Unlike some other fairy folk that can help humans or even bestow gifts upon them, Spriggans usually have nothing but ill will towards humans. But, you can’t really blame them. As the bodyguards and justice-bringers of the fairy world it is their job to avenge their brethren.
The punishments they dole out are similar to what other folkloric creatures can bestow upon humans if mistreated. Some of the punishments are seemingly small, such as sending storms on inopportune days. However, they can also be gut-wrenchingly tragic such as stealing their children, blighting their crops, or cursing those who mistreated the fairy world with unstoppable bad luck.
In addition to righting the wrongs of the fairfolk, Spriggans are also often tasked with guarding fairy treasures. If you attempt to steal fairy treasure or just happen to accidentally stop by a hiding place, they will punish you.
If you want to avoid being punished by the Spriggans, the easiest thing you can do is make sure not to offend any type of fair folk in any way. The second thing you can do...avoid tempting them. Even if you haven’t initially done something to offend the fair folk...the Spriggans may still be tempted to enact a little pre-revenge, just in case you were to wrong the fair folk. They are said to lead lonely travelers who are lost into swamps, near crumbling cliffs, or to the precipices of broken castles they inhabit.
As guards to both standing stones and hidden treasures, they correspond very closely to the Breton korred. They are also busy thieves and expert kidnappers of children.
The above image is of a ‘Green spriggan sculpture by Marilyn Collins, in an alcove of the wall at the footbridge before the former Crouch End station. According to a local urban legend, a ghostly 'goat-man' haunted the walk in the 1970s and 1980s. The sculpture, and Parkland Walk generally, provided the inspiration for Stephen King's short story "Crouch End". By Peter O’Connor licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0.