Boggart – Out of the Shadows

Boggart by Darrel Bevin Graphite Portrait Artist

Ever since I read the Harry Potter stories, I’ve been intrigued by Boggarts and wondering exactly what they were. Then I saw this stunning portrait of one (see right) and I decided now was the time to investigate! Join me as we delve into this British mystery.

There are two types of Boggarts according to the book, Lancashire Folklore of 1867 by John Harland: house boggarts and guardian spirits of wild places like marshes, fields, caves, and such. The kind we encounter in Harry Potter in the house boggart.

House Boggarts

Characterized by all as malevolent creatures, Boggarts like to sour milk, cause dogs to become lame, and make things disappear all around the house. They strive to create mischief as much as possible.

The legend also says they like to crawl into bed at night with people so they can touch their faces with their clammy hands, or pull a person’s ears.  Sometimes they pull the sheets off the bed altogether.

Beleaguered homeowners who try to leave their home to get away from this nasty creature are disappointed to find it will only follow them to their new home.

Lancashire Boggart – Outdoor variety. Artist unknown.

Rules of Engagement

In Northern England, they have a few rules to help deal with Boggarts. First and foremost, one should never name a Boggart because then you will never be able to reason with it or persuade it to do anything. It will become even more destructive and you haven’t a chance of controlling it.

Placing a horseshoe over one’s front door is believed to ward off any Boggart seeking to move into one’s home. Pouring salt in front of the bedroom door is also thought to prevent the Boggart’s entry at least to the bedroom.


According to folklore, reports of Boggarts describe them in all shapes and sizes. In general, they appear in human form, but very ugly, with no manners, and some very disgusting habits. In some stories the boggarts look like animals. For instance, in the tale of the Boggart of Longar Hede, the creature is described as a “fearsome creature the size of a calf, with long shaggy hair and eyes like saucers.” The calf creature had a long chain attached to it that made a noise that sounded like baying hounds. In another story, the Boggart looked like a horse.

In one important Lancashire tale, the Boggart had no form, but shapeshifted into the form of whatever it needed to be at the moment. That’s the type of Boggart that appears in the Harry Potter story.  Can anyone forget the sight of Professor Snape dressed as Neville’s grandmother (left)?

The Other Kind

The other kind of Boggart was a guardian spirit of spooky places, most notably marshes. If someone went missing, the local folk believed he or she was taken by the Boggart to be devoured and never seen again. They had a reputation for abducting children and engaged in far more malevolent and vile atrocities.

Recent Sightings

Believe it or not, I ran across a recent report from Britain that they feel may have been a sighting of a Boggart, or perhaps Trolls. But one thing that is fairly certain from Boggart lore is – they don’t like to be seen, being sneaky and mischievous in nature. See what you think of this.

Here is that VLOG entry from today (approximately 4 minutes long), courtesy of Deborah Hatswell BRITISH BIGFOOT REPORTS channel:

Now that is a bit bizarre isn’t it? I can’t imagine they are actually seeing Boggarts or Trolls. And yet, their neighbors to the North, in Iceland, believe wholeheartedly in their Elves.

It’s a strange business, but while I’m prepared to accept the reality of Bigfoot, I’m going to resign Boggarts to the realm of legend and lore. At least for now. 😉

What do you think about Boggarts?


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