Are you sitting comfortably? You might need to be.

Researchers at Durham and Lisbon Universities investigation’s into just how old our oldest fairy tales are, have used techniques usually reserved for biology to investigate storytelling’s origins.

Following on from (albeit after quite a hiatus!) the origin of some of our words, tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk might well have Prehistoric roots as well.

Stories thought to date to the 16th and 17th Centuries turned out to be far older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age:

“And a folk tale called The Smith And The Devil, about a blacksmith selling his soul in a pact with the Devil in order to gain supernatural abilities, was estimated to go back 6,000 years.”

Here’s the link to the report published by Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani and folklorist Sara Graca Da Silva, New University of Lisbon.

So, storytellers, your craft’s got quite some provenance.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

Latest Posts By Richard Hill


Design, Experiences, Identity, storytelling


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