actually have nothing to do with aliens as Stephen King would have you believe. According to the legends, they are 2 foot tall dwarves that live in mines. They dress just like miners, have long beards, oversized heads, arms that reach the ground, age-worn wrinkled skin and are said to be very ugly. They also go by the names Knockers, Coblynau, Kobolds, Wichtlein (German for Little Wights), Berggeister (little ghosts) and Bergmannlien (little miners). They are similar to Irish Leprachauns and English Brownies.
Are Tommyknockers good or bad?
Tommyknockers are good or bad depending on the miner involved. If the miner is liked, the Tommyknockers will help him out in different ways. He will most often be warned of a coming mine shaft collapse by the Tommyknockers' standard method of knocking on the walls. Other times the miner will be pointed in the direction of a valuable vein of ore. In turn for these deeds, many miners leave gifts of food for the Tommyknockers. If the miner is unliked by the Tommyknockers, they will cause much mischief to torment the miner. Tales of missing tools and food are common and others have blamed Tommyknockers for deadly mine-shaft cave-ins and fires.
Strong beliefs by the Cornish
The belief in Tommyknockers was so strong that the Cornish miners emigrating from England to California would not go into a mine shaft until they were assured by management that the Tommyknockers had already started the job. The Cornish miners, who were highly skilled at their trade, all believed the Tommyknockers to be a good partner to have around. The belief in these little creatures lasted into relatively modern times. In 1956, a large California mine closed its doors and sealed shut the mine entrance. The Cornish workers actually had a petition passed around and signed demanding that the entrance be opened to let the Tommyknockers out so they could resume working in another mine. The management agreed and all was settled.
Blame it on the Tommyknockers
Tommyknockers are an easy explanation to the pre-modern minds of man. If something goes missing, blame it on the Tommyknockers. When you hear the sound of rocks and wood giving away before a mine-shaft collapse, blame it on the Tommyknockers. If you're hungry and steal your partner's food, blame it on the Tommyknockers. It's pretty easy to see how a legend like this can so easily evolve. It is also believed that J.R.R. Tolkien based Gimli and the dwarves in The Lord of the Rings on Tommyknockers. This is quite possible and Tolkien is known to have been educated in a lot more than just mythical creatures. (I might be adding an article on that to the Templars section in time.)
With today's technology such as lighting and explosives, Tommyknockers are becoming a creature of legend. The dark, quiet mines are no longer as spooky and mysterious as they were for the last few thousand years. The famous knocking can no longer be heard over the roar of the machinery, but maybe they're still down in the mines, living away from the eyes of man.
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