Mythology: Imps

An imp is basically a goblin or bogie.  They are little black creatures which are full of malice.  They avoid the sun and live in gangs underground.  Imps wear leather armour and sometimes carry spears, and they are very strong.  Imps are shape shifters, and can often be seen as a shadow in the shape of a weasel or spider.

They love to steal things from humans, but it is possible to outsmart them.

There was once a farmer who lived near a gang of imps.  The imps one day decided that they owned the farmer’s field.  He would do all the work, but they would get all the crop.  The farmer didn’t like this idea.

The farmer and the imps argued about what to plant in the field.  One wanted one crop, and the other something else.  Eventually they settled on wheat, and agreed that when it came to harvest time whoever could harvest the most would own the field.  The imps thought that since there were more of them, they would certainly win.

The day before the harvest, the farmer went out and planted iron rods in the half of the field that the imps were going to harvest.  The next day, the farmer quickly finished his half of the field, but the imps kept hitting the iron rods and soon their scythes were blunt.  They hardly harvested anything, and so the farmer got to keep his field.

We're the ever helpful Imps,  Quick and quiet as any shrimps.
We’re the ever helpful Imps,
Quick and quiet as any shrimps.

Many stories have imps as agents of the devil.  One such story tells the tale of the Lincoln Imp.  This imp can be found in Lincoln Cathedral.  Two imps were sent by the devil to cause mischief in the world.

First they went to Chesterfield and sat on the church spire, twisting it – you can still see the twisted spire.  Then they went to Lincoln Cathedral and started to throw things around, trip people up and generally cause mayhem.

They were destroying the Angel Choir when an angel came into the cathedral.  The imps lept up onto a pillar and started to throw rocks at the angel.  The angel turned one into stone, which gave the other time to escape.  The stone imp can still be seen perched on top of the pillar, high in the Angel Choir.

There are some stories in which an imp can be lured into doing good with the promise of friendship, but they never give up their mischievous ways, just become a little less malicious!


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