Supernatural Creatures of the Western World

Ref: C2527630

This course will take a historical perspective on the creatures we now see as mythological. Our ancestors believed their world was populated by strange creatures, like dragons, fairies, selkies and unicorns. The main focus will be on the western world, and on the middle ages and early modern period, but we will also take occasional diversions into world parallels and other times. We'll look at medieval bestiaries (where a unicorn is no more or less improbably described than a badger), travellers's tales, romance poetry, church carvings and more, to uncover evidence of belief in murderous werewolves and Viking sea monsters, Fiji mermaids and the "ladies from outside". Enter a world where mammoth bones are interpreted as giants and dragons, and asbestos might be wool of a fireproof salamander.

Course aim

Learn what medieval and early modern people really believed they might meet on a dark night - fairies, dragons, werewolves and more.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of a range of historic supernatural creatures
  • Describe some of the sources we can use to learn about historic beliefs in supernatural creatures
  • Describe how humans have attempted to interact with supernatural creatures
  • Consider why these beliefs persisted for so long

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

All materials will be provided on Zoom and Canvas as well as links to resources allowing further exploration of the topic if you wish.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Supernatural Creatures of the Western World

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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