Bones of Possible Hell Hound Discovered in Eastern England May 19, 2014 21:48:59 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on May 19, 2014 21:48:59 GMT -5
Bones of possible hell hound discovered in East Anglia
LEISTON, Suffolk, U.K. – Is this the skeleton of legendary devil dog Black Shuck who terrorized 16th century East Anglia? Folklore tells of seven-foot hell hound with flaming eyes.
It roamed the countryside spreading death and terror – a giant, ferocious hell-hound with flaming eyes and savage claws. For centuries, the beast that came to be known as Black Shuck struck fear into the hearts of all who crossed its path. Just a single glimpse was enough to impart a fatal curse; the briefest encounter sufficient to suck the life from any hapless victim.
One thing, however, has always been absent from the many tales of the dog-like entity and its sinister appearances in the East of England flatlands: A single fact. Now this may be about to change with an answer to the question: Did it exist only in folklore ... or was it flesh and blood?
Yesterday, 500 years after Black Shuck first went on the prowl, archaeologists were examining the skeleton of a 7-foot-long dog unearthed in the remains of an ancient abbey. It was discovered a few miles from two churches where Black Shuck is said to have killed worshipers during an almighty thunderstorm in August 1577. What’s more, it appears to have been buried in a shallow grave at precisely the same time as Shuck is said to have been on the loose, primarily around Suffolk and the East Anglia region. Experts will subject the bones and surrounding material to 21st century dating techniques.
The bones uncovered in the ruins of Leiston Abbey, Suffolk, were first found by archaeological group Dig Ventures in a project last year. Painstaking work revealed the skeleton of an extremely large dog. Estimates suggest it would have weighed more than 14 stone and stood 7ft tall on its hind legs. The grave was less than 20 inches deep and unmarked. Pottery fragments found at the same level date from the height of Shuck’s alleged reign. Radio carbon dating tests will now give an exact age for the bones, results that will serve either to enhance the shaggy dog stories – or perhaps to support the far less entertaining theory that here lies a 16th century abbot’s beloved old hunting dog.
Although his howling makes the hearer’s blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound. – W. A. Dutt, historian
According to folklore, Black Shuck appeared during a storm on August 4, 1577, at Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh, about seven miles from Leiston in Suffolk. Villagers were reportedly sheltering inside the church when a huge clap of thunder caused the doors to burst open and the snarling dog crashed in. It ran through the congregation, killing a man and a boy, before the steeple crashed through the roof. The dog then fled, leaving scorch marks from its claws on the church door which are still visible today. Local verse records the event thus:
All down the church
in the midst of fire,
the hellish monster flew,
and, passing onward to the quire,
he many people slew.
Later the same day, Black Shuck is said to have struck again 12 miles away, killing two worshippers during a service at St. Mary’s Church, Bungay, while the storm was still raging. Clergyman, the Rev Abraham Fleming, is believed to have described the appearance of the legendary hell hound in a pamphlet written in 1577, entitled A Straunge and Terrible Wunder. He wrote:
This black dog, or the divel in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) running all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a moment where they kneeled, they strangely dyed.
Historian W. A. Dutt also wrote about Black Shuck in his 1901 book, Highways and Byways, set in East Anglia. “He takes the form of a huge black dog, and prowls along dark lanes and lonesome field footpaths, where, although his howling makes the hearer’s blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound,” he wrote.
The legend of Black Shuck is now so popular that images of the dog have been put up in buildings across the town – and the animal is even being incorporated into Bungay’s coat of arms. There is also a Black Dog Running Club and a Black Dog antiques shop, while the nickname for the town's football club is “The Black Dogs.” And the legend has even infiltrated popular culture – with British rock band The Darkness featuring a track inspired by the devil dog on the band’s debut album, “Permission to Land.” The track, named “Black Shuck,” includes the lyrics:
In a town in the east,
the parishioners were visited
upon by a curious beast.
And his eyes numbered but one
and shone like the sun,
and a glance beckoned
the immediate loss of a cherished one.
Source: Paul Harris, The Daily Mail, May 15, 2014.