You may know the Duergar as the evil dwarves in Dungeons & Dragons. You may know them as the Dvergar or dvergr, the old Norse creatures where the name ‘dwarf’ originated. You may even remember Duergars as the assistants to vampires in the ‘Van Hesling’ film. However, no one will remember them quite like a young man in England whose romantic marriage proposal to his girlfriend was nearly thwarted by gangs of duergars that roam the Simonside Hills in Northumberland National Park in England that he chose for the special moment. Did they kidnap his girlfriend, present her to the Duergar Despot and hold her for ransom? Take her to a local vampire? Show her pictures of him with another woman?
“I planned on going to Simonside Hills for the day and would have a picnic at the top of the crag and then propose. That was the plan, and I had the ring in my pocket because I already had my wallet in there and didn’t want to have a random bulge that couldn’t be explained.”
If this were a Beavis & Butthead tale, we would add a “heh-heh” to that “random bulge” reference, but George Goddard was no butthead when it came to keeping track of the £1 000 ($1,393) engagement ring as he and Isobel Neal climbed 1,300 ft to the top of the Simonside Hills. He had everything carefully planned … except for the duergars.
“I then realized there was a hole in the pocket meaning at some point on the walk the ring would have fallen out. Isobel saw me looking very panicked and then asked me had I lost my wallet, but I had to come clean.”
The Simonside Dwarfs, also known as Brownmen, Bogles and Duergar, are short (of course) English folklore creatures led by Heslop. Primarily beings of the night, they’re said to meet up with hikers after dark, offer to light the way with their torches, and lead them to drown in the bogs instead. Goddard told Staffordshire Live he had to fess up to Isobel about the ring and the surprise so she could help him look for it. They spent for futile hours looking for the blue box before giving up. Once he had a signal, Goddard says he posted the story on Facebook, where it turns out duergars have no power.
“Somebody in the group put us in contact with each other and it turned out she only lived in Washington which is only down the road from us about 15 minutes away.”
Goddard picked up the ring, proposed to Isobel, she accepted and everything turned out OK.
Or did it?
Norse duergars were said to be sexual predators who lust after goddesses, and metalworkers associated with death. Anglo-Saxon duergars are associated with sleep disturbances and nightmares. Perhaps the future Mr. and Mrs. Goddard should avoid hiking the Simonside hills, over even consider moving to a place where there are no duergars.
Or maybe Isobel should just learn how to sew pockets or get George a fanny pack.