I’ve had cause to investigate a particular mythical creature of the English medieval period. It is mentioned in a fascinating chapter of Martyn Whittock’s Life in the Middle Ages, which concerns signs, marvels, dreams and so on. On page 224 of my copy I came upon the following:-
“….Gervase [of Tilbury described] creatures he named as ‘grants’:
It is like a yearling colt, prancing on its hind legs, with sparkling eyes. This kind of demon very often appears in the streets in the heat of the day, or at about sunset, and whenever it is seen, it gives warning of an imminent fire in that city or neighbourhood…”
Well, this is definitely a new one on me. Grant seems such an odd name. Where did it come from? Who supposedly saw them? I’ve tried to find out more, but without success. One thing’s certain, the next time I’m in town, I’ll keep a sharp eye open for grants prancing around…
You’ll find a list of twenty similar creatures on History Hit. Yes, many of them I recognise—well, not that I’ve actually seen them, you understand! I just know the names. And if you want to go into the subject in more depth, inluding which creatures were of relevance in heraldry, on Gutenberg.
And by the way, I did look twice at the illustration above, but that’s definitely a horse. Yes?