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The Clever Daughter and the Green Men

A Green Man smirks from a misericord in Worcester cathedral. He and his "brother" were probably carved around 1380 and they flank a carving of "The Clever Daughter".

This age-old folk story tells of a king who heard of a young woman who had dispensed invaluable financial advice to her father, who had ignored her and been jailed for his trouble. The king set her a riddle if she wanted to free her father. She was to make her way to his hall neither naked or clothed, neither riding nor walking, and neither on the road nor off it.

The sharp-witted young woman arrived mounted on a goat, clad in a fishing net and trailing one foot along the ground. She had beaten the king's challenge and ended up marrying him.

Versions of the tale have been told all across Europe, including in the Norse sagas and in Scottish folklore, so it's easy to see how it ended up as a popular story in England.

I think the Green men add an otherworldly feel to this folkloric carving, one of many such incredible images on the misericords at Worcester.

I take a good look around Worcester cathedral in my book The Mystery Of Mercia, available at the link in the comments.

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