What are Cornish Knockers of Cornwall’s Tin Mines?


Cornish Knockers are tiny creatures who live deep inside the dark tunnels of Cornwall’s tin mines, L.H. DAVIES reports 

What are Cornish Knockers of Cornwall's Tin Mines? 1

Looking at the dilapidated remains of crumbling tin mine buildings, a ghost of Cornwall’s more industrial past, and it’s easy to see how such places have inspired terrifying tales.

In particular, the oft-spoken of ‘Knockers’.

Views differ between miners as to the intent of these small creatures, with their thin limbs and hooked noses.

Sometimes benevolent, they were said to mine deep within the darkest recesses of the mines, away from human interference.

Though appearing throughout Celtic folklore, the Cornish Knockers are most prevalent within Cornish lore as the spirits of unfortunate miners who lost their lives in the pits.

It was thought these souls would warn miners of impending cave-ins by knocking loudly on the tunnel walls.

The action which inspired their name.

Knockers deep inside a mine

It was often considered lucky to leave offerings for them.

It’s good to look after Cornish Knockers

A favoured treat would be the remains of the miner’s Cornish Pasty.

Failure to do this might result in bad luck, with miners experiencing tricks played upon them.

In other stories, the Knockers were in fact malevolent creatures who were actually responsible for the cave-ins.

The knocking on the tunnel walls not an aid to warn the miners of an impending accident, but the source itself.

Whistling was said to aggravate them and so miners avoided this for fear of bringing doom down upon themselves.

Also thought to inhabit wells and other natural features, tales of the Knockers were taken to Pennsylvania, in the United States, in the 1800s by Welsh miners relating their experiences with the ‘Bwca’.

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Sightings of the Cornish Knockers have diminished since the death of the tin mining industry.

However, they are still believed to reside within the dark tunnels beneath the bleak and desolate Cornish moors.

The Cornish Knockers aren’t the only underground dwellers to help miners. Find out more in Going Underground: 3 Subterranean Spirits.

L.H. DAVIES is a young writer from Grimsby, Humberside. Now living in South Shields she enjoys writing all things paranormal/supernatural, and also dabbles in epic fantasy, music reviews and interviews.


  1. There’s a correlation in mines in Bolivia that ties in with indigenous beliefs , where miners will make shrines and leave offerings to appease the Devil in the mine, who they believe is the cause of deaths and mining accidents.


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