Monday 3 December 2012

Black Dogs

 I was thinking about the tales of ghostly hounds and whether these stories may have influenced Conan Doyle to write the Hound Of the Baskervilles. Tales of encounters with strange black dogs abound in Britain form a part of local folklore. These dogs are not conventional dogs but have something mysterious or ghostly about them. They are often described as being particularly large, and having red glowing eyes. Stories of encounters with strange black dogs have been told in Britain since the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, written in the 12th century, which details an account.
They have different names depending on the area the stories come from;
alternately described as a small as a bull mastiff or as large as a bear with shaggy black fur and fiery red eyes. Seen around the northern English counties of Yorkshire, Durham, and Northumberland, it only appears at night in certain locations, mainly coastal villages and churchyards. It is said that the sighting of a Barghest is a guaranteed portent of disaster and misfortune.( I would think the sighting of any such animal would be a misfortune in more ways than one! I wrote about the barghest of Whitby in my book Dark Esk)
Cu Sith is the name of the
Black Dog of the Scottish highlands, It is said to be of a huge size and carry off people.
Freybug – A monstrous Black Dog that terrorized English country lanes in medieval times.
is said to appear on the lonely roads of Dulwich and Woodbridge, and the Bathslough bog of Suffolk. It is another large shaggy dog.
Gwyllgi or dog of darkness–Is the Welsh equivalent of the Black Dog. Again said to be a giant mastiff that seems to enjoy frightening people.
Gytrash seen around Lancashire and Yorkshire and said to be a portent of imminent death and disaster. Again described as a huge Black Dog with shaggy fur, and red eyes that glow.
Mauthe Dhoog
was a Black Dog that allegedly haunted Peel Castle n the Isle of Man in the 17th Century.. In 1871, the remains of Simon, Bishop of Sodor and Man (died 1247) were uncovered during excavations. The bones of a large dog were found at his feet. Maybe the origin of the story ?
seen on the moors around Leeds, in Northern England. Called padfoot because you can hear it padding behind you.
Typically, these dogs are encountered at night in lonely places. Perhaps the most celebrated black dog story is the one set in Suffolk, where the beast was called Black Shuck from the Old English scucca, a demon. During a storm on Sunday, 4 August 1577, Black Shuck is said to have appeared in St Mary's church in Bungay, Suffolk, and run between two worshippers, apparently wringing their necks and killing them. On the same day, a similar scene unfolded in Blythburgh church seven miles away. The hell hound of Norfolk is another popular tale and one which in 1890, came to prominence when a young boy was rescued from the North Sea and told a tale of being forced to swim further and further from the shore by a huge black dog who had chased him into the sea. Even during the 1920's and 1930's there were reports from the fishermen of Sheringham of hearing a hound howling on the cliff tops during stormy nights. As recently as 1970 a sighting of Black Shuck made the headlines. When a huge hound was seen pounding over the beach at Great Yarmouth. Then in 1980, a woman claimed to have met the black dog , whilst out walking with her young son. near Wisbeach.

So real dog or ghost? It has certainly been around for a long time!

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