Local legends in North Yorkshire are full of stories of hobgoblins, boggarts, boggles and hobs. Whatever the local name, these creatures litter our folklore. They’re found in hob holes in our cliffs and caves, and all over the moorland.
In fact, it was thought that each dale had its own hobgoblin that would help – or hinder – the people who lived there or travelled through. The stories say these hobs looks like small hairy men and that they regularly interacted with humans, for better or for worse.
The powers of the hobgoblin
Yorkshire hobgoblins vary in their power and abilities from legend to legend. Some folk stories tell of the healing powers of the hobgoblin or boggle. Worried parents would bring their sick children to hob holes in the hopes that the creature who lived there would cure the illness. This was especially common for children suffering with whooping cough.
Often, boggarts and hobs are associated with mischief, with some becoming incredibly problematic for families. Households were thought to have their own hobgoblin that if treated well, could finish chores in the night while the family slept. They were very skilled and could be a great asset to have around.
Of course, they didn’t do this out of the goodness of their own hearts, and these little creatures could get very pesky if they were angered or mistreated. Too keep a hob or boggle happy, the family must leave out fresh cream each night or some other form of payment.
These hobgoblins, once angered,could be impossible to get rid of if they wanted to punish those who wronged them. They would follow a family wherever they moved if they tried to get away. The hob would make milk go sour, remove things from the home, cause animals to become lame. If really provoked, they could even get violent.
Popular hob folktales
One of the most popular tales involves the well-meaning family at Hart Hall Farm in Glaisdale and their hobgoblin. The family had been helped by their hob for generations and both they and their hob had benefitted from the relationship.
One day, the master of the house caught sight of the hob at his work in the dead of night. He was shocked to see that the creature was completely naked, though covered in hair. Instead of milk or cream, the master decided to pay that night with a smock.
The hobgoblin was terribly insulted. He started shouting at the master for the payment and abandoned the hall. Luckily for the family, he didn’t want to cause any harm or mischief, but they never received his help again.
Perhaps one of the most famous Yorkshire hobgoblins is the one said to inhabit the cliffs at Boggle Hole. Approximately a one mile stroll along the beach from Robin Hood’s Bay will bring you to a rocky cove with a wonderful youth hostel set in a historic mill. Here, you’ll be able to rock pool, search for fossils and see if you can find the boggle.