Tuesday 17 February 2009

Here be monsters...or are they?

A browse through the university special collections found some monster stories.

A relation of a terrible monster taken by a fisherman neere Wollage, July the 15. 1642. and is now to be seen in Kings street, Westminster. The shape whereof is like a toad, and may be called a toad-fish, but that which makes it a monster, is, that it hath hands with fingers like a man, and is chested like a man. Being neere five foot long, and three foot over, the thicknesse of an ordinary man. The following discourse will describe him more particularly. Whereunto is added, a relation of a bloudy encounter betwixt the Lord Faulconbridge and Sir John Hotham, wherein the Duke of Richmond is hurt, and the Lord Faulconbridge taken prisoner. With some other misselanies of memory both by sea and land, with some forreigne occurrences. [electronic resource] : Imprint London : Printed for Nath. Butter, 1642.

This sounds to me like some sort of seal or walrus . Others may have some idea. In 1642 I don’t suppose they had much idea about marine creatures .The tale below is obvious to us what it is.

A true and perfect account of the miraculous sea-monster, or, Wonderful fish lately taken in Ireland bigger than ox, yet without legs, bones, fins, or scales, with two heads, and ten horns of 10 or 11 foot long, on eight of which horns there grew knobs about the bigness of a cloak-button, in shape like crowns or coronets, to the number of 100 on each horn, which were all to open, and had rows of teeth within them ... : together with the manner how it first appeared and was taken at a place called Dingel Ichough ... / [electronic resource] : faithfully communicated by an eye witness. Imprint [London?] : Printed for P. Brooksby and W. Whitwood, 1674.

It’s a squid or octopus of course. It got me thinking though about what other mis- identified animals could be reported as cryptids.It is easy to see a monster when you are not familiar with it’s appearance.

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