In this article, we look at Tommy Knockers, what they are, where they live and the myths and legends surrounding them.
Tommy Knockers are said to be small creatures that live in mines and caves. An adult Tommy Knocker is usually no taller than four inches long – and can be found doing a number of different things: such as knocking on the walls of mines; doors; or any other kind of noise maker. They are also said to nest in the middles of rocks.
Even though when seen they may look small, they can be angry and aggressive when provoked.
It is believed that Tommy Knocker folklore began in 1896 when two miners on Clifton Moor near Wakefield in Yorkshire, England heard strange knocking sounds coming from several tunnels on their mine site. Their story was reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, which ran an article on the subject. This led to a number of miners hearing the strange sounds and researching various legends and stories about the creatures.
It is said that Tommy Knockers will attack if you annoy them or if they feel threatened. Sometimes they also knock on objects in search of more food.
Tommy Knockers are said to have a very poor sense of smell, so it can be difficult for them to hunt down their food – therefore they commonly feed on insects, scorpions and rats living in caves or rock formations. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that the creatures would ram their heads against the walls of the mucky tunnels hoping to get their heads wet in order to attract insects and bugs – however, they were not very successful as most of their food selection is very far away from water.
In 1897, a man named John Marshall was said to have caught one and put it on display at his home. He found that it had a very fine instinct for survival and could hunt down small animals with great accuracy. He also claimed that Tommy Knockers were nocturnal and liked to make noise when they were sleeping.
It is said that Tommy Knockers like to live in deep mines, tunnels and caves far away from humans. It is also stated that they prefer to live in cool and shady places where they can have plenty of fresh air. Due to the fact that over time the mines are sealed, Tommy Knockers cannot leave these places when they want to hunt for food or shelter – which results in them ‘getting angry’ and making a lot of noise.
The best way to keep a Tommy Knocker happy is not to disturb them unnecessarily, provide a light, steady supply of food and water; and make sure they’re living somewhere dry; not damp at all. They are also said to enjoy bacon!
In the UK, it is said that Tommy Knockers live mainly in Yorkshire, Northumberland and Durham. However, because Tommy Knockers have poor eyesight they prefer to live in areas where there is a lot of bright light such as mills and old mines.
The good thing about Tommy Knockers is that they are very friendly if you treat them right. If you can make them feel safe and calm they will not attack you on purpose.
In the United States, Tommy Knockers are said to live in mines and caves all over Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. Legend has it that this comes from a miner who was trapped in one of the mines for 16 days and survived by killing the Tommy Knocker with its own claw.
In the same manner as mentioned above, Tommy Knockers have poor eyesight, so they are unable to see people unless they move very close. If they feel threatened or annoyed by an intruder they will attack.