Witches Hill and Lithuanian Folklore

Monday, December 7, 2015

A tale of Neringa



The Hill of Witches, located in the village of Juodkrante on the Curonian Spit, has approximately 100 wooden sculptures of Lithuanian mythological figures, including Neringa, the namesake for the municipality that includes most of the Curonian Spit. A visit and hike around the Witches Hill had been on my Lithuanian Bucket List since we first moved to Lithuania. Unlike somethings on my bucket list, the Hill of Witches did not disappoint! We spent about an hour wandering and photographing the carved statues, but could have spent much longer if we didn't think it was too cold for Baby ISO.

Of the statues I saw, most weren't even a bit scary and I suspect that older kids would love this easy hike. I'm also thinking that perhaps a better name for the Witches Hill would actually be Folklore Hill, as many of the carvings seemed to follow a Lithuanian story about Neringa.

Let's talk Lithuanian folklore! The story goes that Neringa (also a popular Lithuanian girl's name) was a beautiful giant that lived on the Lithuanian coast. To save the Lithuanian people from a dragon named Naglis that she didn't want to marry, Neringa made the Lithuanian portion of the Curonian Spit by creating a barrier of sand. Naglis is also depicted in carvings on the Witches Hill. 

A variation of the creation myth of the Curonian Spit explains that Neringa, the beautiful and beloved giant girl with long braids, piled up sand to prevent a flood from destroying the Lithuanian coast.

I'm really into folklore (incorporated it into my Botany PhD studies!), so I'd LOVE to get my hands on an English version of the story. I'll have to dust off my Lithuanian library card and see if I can find one! I'll keep you posted.









A depiction of the Lithuanian folklore character Naglis








Resources:

http://neringabumbliene.tumblr.com/post/91840148960/legend-about
http://www.kurortas.lt/index.php/en/Neringa/about-resort/interesting-to-know/1902
http://walkingdotphotography.com/a-whimsical-story-of-unrequited-love-and-a-sea-dragon/ *read the comment too!

Do you guys like folklore? Any cool stories from your area?

10 comments:

  1. I love learning about local folklore! Great post! x

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! This was such a fun post to research :)

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  2. Very cool! I love this now, but I would have really loved it as a little kid with a big imagination!

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    1. I know! Going for a walk on the Curonian Spit with kids and explaining that story would be awesome!

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  3. I would LOVE to visit this one day, it is exactly the type of nature and art experience that I crave. What a magical space, thank you so much for bringing us here!

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    1. I hope you do get to visit it one day, Angie. I bet your son would love to see it as well!

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  4. whaaa. this is so cool! you've got me curious if there are any folklore stories around SF!

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    1. If I hear anything about SF I'll let you know. One of my advisors is an anthropologist and works in Cali, so I'm sure there are are ton of cool stories out that way!

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  5. What a fantastical place; I'd love to visit it! I like that you write about things that are not splashed across other travel blogs. Very cool.

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    1. Thank you so much! That is a really nice compliment. I hope that by writing about these places travelers will visit Eastern Europe more often!

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