Has anyone out there heard of the grisly legend of the Black Dog of East Anglia? If not, I feel I should tell you more, seeing that the nights are drawing in and Halloween is upon us!
The ‘Shuck’ is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to have roamed the coastline and countryside of East Anglia for centuries, in particular graveyards, side roads, bodies of water and dark forests.
Opinions differ as to the origin of the word ‘Shuck’. It may derive from the Old English word ‘scucca’ meaning ‘demon’ or possibly from the local dialect word ‘shucky’ meaning ‘shaggy’ or ‘hairy’.
There have been various accounts of the animal’s appearance: some have stated that the beast has only one red eye in the middle of its forehead! It varies in size and stature from being simply a large dog, to being the size of a calf or even a horse! It has also been seen headless and at other times floating on a carpet of mist. His howl is supposed to make one’s blood run cold! If you meet him, legend has it that your death will occur before the end of the year!
Its infamous appearance on August 4th 1577 in Bungay and Blythburgh has been well documented and images of the black sinister dog have become synonymous with the area ever since! He is said to have run up the nave at Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh past the sizeable congregation, killing a man and a boy and causing the church steeple to collapse through the roof. As the dog ran off he left scorch marks on the north door which can still be seen at the church today.
The Black Shuck is also supposed to have been seen on the same day at St. Mary’s Church in Bungay. There was a terrifying thunderstorm – such darkness, rain, hail, thunder and lightning, the like of which has never been seen before! During the storm the beast is said to have set upon the congregation killing at least two people.
For those of you out there who believe these are the ramblings of men who lived so long ago and whose tales are impossible to confirm accurately, think again. There have been far more recent accounts of the Black Shuck rearing its beastly head and tormenting the inhabitants of East Anglia!
During the 1920s and 1930s there were reports from the fishermen of Sheringham hearing a hound howling on the cliff tops during stormy nights. As recently as 1970 a sighting of the Black Shuck in Great Yarmouth made the headlines. In 1980 a young woman claimed to have met the hound whilst walking with her young son near Wisbech.
In the village of Overstrand to this day there is still a road called Shuck’s Lane, named after the Norfolk hell hound. Another of the hound tracks runs through what today is Mill Lane and into the grounds of Cromer Hall. It is said that this particular locality was the inspiration behind Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’. He had visited the area on a golfing holiday and although the original film is set in Dartmoor there are scenes in the film which one can quite imagine as having some semblance to the area within Cromer Hall.
Beware though my canine friends for ‘Shuck’ is not the only black dog who has been seen prowling when darkness falls. A dog-like creature stalks the ruins of Burgh Castle: some believe it is a werewolf whilst others say it is the devil in disguise! Eeek! The beast is called ‘Old Scarfe’ after Baron Rudolf Scarfe, a notorious, depraved and evil knight of the 13th Century. So bad were his deeds of wickedness that upon his death some say the devil changed him into a dog, laden him with chains and sent him back to earth. ‘Old Scarfe’ has also been at Gorleston and Great Yarmouth rattling his chains and howling into the night!
If this isn’t enough to have you quivering with fright in your basket then listen up! Close to Cromer Pier a black dog has been spotted close to the shoreline looking out to sea! But when approached the hound vanishes into thin air! It is believed he is waiting for his human who will never return!
Now I don’t want to distress you further with any more stories of a hideous, ghoulish and demonic nature but my fellow reporters on the Barking Bugle thought that those of you visiting Norfolk ought to beware and be VERY VERY careful going out after dark! I can assure you, however, that although I am a black dog, I am NOT one of the beasts I have woofed about! I also get very scared about going out late at night!
Beware though of any sinister, large black dogs in the area – you never know, if you spot one you may just be the first person in the 21st Century to have spotted the infamous Black Shuck. If you do, avert your gaze or your life may soon be over. You have all been warned!
Fright Night Woofs Pupstar