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It was suggested that newcomers drove out the original inhabitants, and the memories of this defeated, hidden people developed into the fairy beliefs we have today.Proponents of this theory claimed to find support in the tradition of cold iron as a charm against the fairies, which was viewed as a cultural memory of invaders with iron weapons displacing inhabitants who had only flint and were therefore easily defeated.

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Nowadays, fairies are often depicted with ordinary insect wings or butterfly wings. Some depictions of fairies depict them wearing some sort of footwear and other depictions of fairies are always barefoot.Carole Silvers and others suggest that the fascination of English antiquarians arose from a reaction to greater industrialization, and loss of folkways.Fairies are generally described as human in appearance and having magical powers.In the sense "land where fairies dwell", the distinctive and archaic spellings Faery and Faerie are often used.The latinate fay is not to be confused with the unrelated (Germanic) fey, meaning "fated to die".

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