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Anne Lister Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old? (82* d) RE: Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old? 02 Nov 19

I'm currently exploring some British 12th century writers (Walter Map, Gervase of Tilbury) who made collections of information for courtiers and who both included tales which are found today as well-travelled folk tales. I've come across several of these stories in other contexts, and it would be fascinating to know how widespread they were in the 12th century, and how that came to be. The problem, as we all know, with documenting folklore of any kind is that we're dependent on written sources, and not everything was written down.
To give you examples - Walter Map gives at least three different variants on the story I know as the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach (young man marries beautiful woman from a lake, must not strike her three times - but he does). Gervase of Tilbury tells the tale of the midwife to the fairies (midwife called at dead of night to assist a birth but can't see who she's working for - is asked to put an ointment on the baby's eyes and rubs some into her own by accident - then recognises the father of the child at a market who is furious that she can see him and causes her to go blind), but Gervase localises the story in Italy. There are more.
So any dating question is fraught with difficulties, but yes, the stories are old. Both authors, incidentally, also talk of werewolves, vampires and ghosts.

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