wild man of the wood

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The hairy, usually dirty, often naked wild man of the woods appears frequently in oral tradition and in art all over the British Isles from medieval times to at least the 19th century. Woodwose, wooser, and ooser are English names for him. He has something of the satyr or faun about him, without the lubricity. Owain, Lailoken, Merlin, and Suibne (see BUILE SHUIBHNE [The Frenzy of Suibne]) have at times something of the wild man of the wood about them. See also GRUAGACH.

See Kenneth H. Jackson, ‘The Wild Man of the Woods’, Yorkshire Society for Celtic Studies (1935);R. Bernheimer, Wild Men in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass., 1952);Pádraig Ó Riain, ‘A Study of the Irish Legend of the Wild Man’, Éigse, 14 (1972), 179–206.

Subjects: Religion.

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