The Derbyshire mummified fairy
Dubbed one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, these iconic images of a tiny fairy corpse in a forensics lab captured the imagination of the world and are still going viral to this day.
The original press release from 2007 reads -
Do Fairies Live at the Bottom of Your Garden?
Maybe not anymore but a recent discovery would suggest that they probably did. What appear to be the mummified remains of a fairy have been discovered in the Derbyshire countryside. The 8-inch remains complete with wings; skin, teeth and flowing red hair have been examined by anthropologists and forensic experts who can confirm that the body is genuine. X-rays of the ‘fairy’ reveal an anatomically identical skeleton to that of a child. The bones however, are hollow like those of a bird making them particularly light. The puzzling presence of a navel even suggests that the beings reproduce the same as humans despite the absence of reproductive organs.
The remains were discovered by a local man, who wishes to remain anonymous, while walking his dog along an old roman road situated between the Derbyshire villages of Duffield and Belper. The area has long been shrouded in mystery with tales of ghostly highwaymen and strange ‘dancing’ lights on warm summer evenings.
“I was walking along the lane at a point which passes an old Iron Age barrow (burial mound) when my dog began to bark and act rather strangely. He was barking in the direction of the barrow and would not go anywhere near it which was strange as we walk past it almost every day.
I was curious and approached the mound to see what could be disturbing him and it then I noticed something odd…..in the side of the barrow, a fissure as if a section of ground had subsided or opened up. The crack measured about 2ft long and 1ft wide and looked to have been formed recently as I had never seen it before. I knelt down and looked inside the dark hole. The hill seemed to be hollow like a cave as I could feel a cool draught against my skin. I used the small LED torch on my car keys to see if I could see anything in the darkness.
It was at this point I saw something that startled me, 2 or 3 feet in front of me I could see a human like form only this was much smaller. My initial instinct was to call the police as I thought it may be the body of a small child but as I looked closer I could see that this was not the case. It was too small and more importantly, it had what appeared to be wings! Not wanting to touch it I used a stick to carefully drag it out and picked it up in one of the dog’s poo bags (empty of course).”
He immediately called his wife stating he had found something ‘unbelievable’ and asked her to bring a camera and a box immediately. “When I first arrived I could hear the dog barking from some distance, I had no idea what he had found. As I approached the barrow I could see my husband crouched down looking a something on the floor.
“What have you found?” I shouted. “See for yourself” he said. I looked down and saw a tiny but perfect mummified human body with hair, dark brown skin and more disturbingly, wings. “I know what it looks like”, he said “but how can it be? And there’s not just one, I’ve had another look inside that hole in the ground and there are more!”
The body was taken home in a biscuit tin and kept in a garage overnight. The following day the local police were informed and the remains were taken away for analysis. As a local expert on the paranormal I was approached by the police for my advice although this was kept rather quiet to avoid ridicule and press attention. I was taken to the location by the man who originally discovered this amazing find. On closer inspection the barrow appears to contain more that 20 fairy bodies all in varying states of mummification.
The dry cave-like interior has preserved the remains to such a degree that some bodies even have tiny finger nails and eye brows. I have returned since then to document the find as much as possible. On one particular occasion I was shocked to discover that some attempt had been made to reseal the barrow, but by whom?
The site appears to be a burial ground for fairy folk and the exact location of the find has not been revealed and no further remains have been removed from the mound. It has not been substantiated how long the remains have been there although the state of mummification would suggest more than 400 years.
The countryside could be strewn with hidden burial mounds which have lain undiscovered for centuries. How could such creatures exist without detection for so many years? Cryptozoologists who have examined the remains suspect they have evolved to suit their surrounding so well they would be virtually invisible to the naked eye.
Their wings and skin pigment would camouflage them extremely well and they would most probably live in the tree tops and rarely venture down to ground level. In winter they would probably retreat underground into cave networks. Whether they still exist is another question but the remains found in Derbyshire have laid thousands of years of folklore to rest.
One week later, overwhelmed with the press coverage and thousands of e-mail, I made the following statement revealing the mummified fairy as a hoax.
Thank you for the interest you have shown in my story.
Even if you believe in fairies, as I personally do, there will always have been an element of doubt in your mind that would suggest the remains are a hoax. However, the magic created by the possibility of the fairy being real is something you will remember for the rest of your life.
Alas the fairy is fake but my interest and belief has allowed me to create a work of art that is convincing and magical. I was also interested to see if fairy folklore is still a valid belief in modern society and I am pleased to say that yes it is! I have had more response from believers than I ever thought possible.
As well as an artist I am also a magician and you have been my fantastic audience. That spark of magic ignited your imagination and made your day more memorable and exciting.
I believe fairies to be Earth spirits rather than physical beings so my performance was slightly flawed. The question stills begs to be answered though, are they made of flesh and blood like you and I?
I hope you have not been offended by the events of the past few days but if you are I sincerely apologise. It took 50 years for the Cottingley fairies to be revealed as a hoax; at least you’ve only had to endure a few days of mystery.