A brag or braag is a mischievous shapeshifting goblin in the folklore of Northumbria and often takes the form of a horse or donkey. It is fond of letting unsuspecting humans ride on its back before bucking them off into a pond or bush and running away laughing.
Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust and Northumberland Libraries have come together to develop a summer project for children focused on the Kielder Brag. You can take part in the project in several ways:
- You can take part in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and enter the creative writing and art competitions to be in with a chance of winning a prize. You can join the reading challenge at: sillysquad.org.uk
- You can build your own brag den and send photos of it to us to upload onto the children’s gallery.
- You can take part in the project simply for fun and engage with our other brag-related fun activities for children and families.
However you decide to take part, enjoy finding out about the brag and we hope you will do some brag hunting of your own next time you visit Kielder Water & Forest Park.
What is the Kielder Brag?
The Kielder Brag is a story found in an old book about a creature living in Kielder Forest. The only person we know of who has seen it is a man called Simon Davies, who claims he saw the brag as a child when he was on holiday at Kielder with his family. This is what Simon says about meeting the brag.
“Here’s what I remember: We were close to the water’s edge. Mum and dad were ahead with my sister Fran. I was alone, throwing pebbles into the water, trying to get them to skim over the surface, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. As I searched for the perfect smooth pebble, I looked up and saw… well, I’m still not exactly sure what I saw, but it wasn’t a shadow, or a log in the water, or any of the other ‘explanations’ my family suggested afterwards. What I saw was like a man but much larger. It was dark, covered in thick wet hair and it had horns on its head. I remember them specifically because they dragged up plants from the lake as he climbed out of the water, and they swayed from the tips. Little details like that are really clear even now. He lumbered out of the water, lifting himself upright with long arms, then strode over the stones towards the trees. But he didn’t have feet, he had hooves. Hooves! Like a horse, or a demon. As he crossed into the trees, he turned his head and looked at me. His eyes actually met mine. I stood there, transfixed, I couldn’t even breathe. Remember, I was ten years old when I saw this.”
Simon regularly spends time at Kielder brag hunting. He writes about this in his blog and films his attempts to find evidence of brag activity and trying to capture a glimpse of the brag itself.
Enter our competitions!
Kielder Brag Summer Reading Challenge
No one knows where the Kielder Brag story has come from or who the author is, and the last few pages are missing so we don’t know how the story ends.
How do you think the story ends? We’re challenging you to use your imagination and creative skills to finish this thrilling tale and send us your story ending to have a chance of winning a prize. There are two age categories (under 7 years and 8+ years) and the winner of each category will receive a free family pass to the Birds of Prey Centre at Kielder. Runners up will receive certificates and all entries will be uploaded onto the Kielder Brag website.
You can join the reading challenge at: sillysquad.org.uk
You can take part in our competition by sending your story ending to:
Draw a Kielder Brag picture
We don’t have any photographs of the Kielder Brag but we do have a description taken from the story:
“He had two hooved legs, dense with dark muscle like those of a shire horse, but his torso was broad, covered in coarse hair and strange tattoos. His arms were thick and powerful, and longer than any man’s; his huge hands hung down towards the ground so that his round knuckles scraped grooves into the soil. Finally, Brook glanced up to the creature’s head: the beast had a man’s face, with mischievous eyes under a heavy brow. His nose and mouth jutted out, almost into a snout that gave him a rat-like profile. His teeth were elongated and sharp, glinting in the setting light, and from his temples grew two twisted horns like those belonging to a ram.”
We’re challenging you to draw a picture of the brag using whatever materials you like. There are three age categories for this competition – under-5’s, 5 to 7 years and 8+ years – and the winner of each category will receive a family pass for the Birds of Prey Centre at Kielder. Runners up will receive certificates and all entries will be uploaded onto the Kielder Brag website.
You can take part in our competition by sending your drawing to:
Make a Brag Den
There is an additional challenge if you are feeling crafty! We invite all children to make a Kielder Brag den and send a photograph in for judging. This could be a life-sized den using blankets and chairs for example, a model made from household rubbish or a den made in the garden from natural materials. Send a picture of your den to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll upload it onto the Kielder Brag gallery on the website.
How to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge
Find out more and join the Reading Challenge at: sillysquad.org.uk
Send your stories, illustrations and den photographs to: email@example.com
All entries will be uploaded onto the Children’s Gallery on the Kielder Brag website.
Don’t forget to add your name, age and an email address or telephone number if you’d like to be entered into the competitions.