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Black Shuck

Tales of phantom hounds abound in the folklore of the British Isles. The origins of these supernatural beasts are shrouded in mystery. The common names of these ghostly animals vary according to locality. `Old Shuck`(Norfolk), `Old shock`(Suffolk), `yeth`(Devon) `Pooka` (Ireland), `Barguest`(Yorkshire) to name but a few.

The true origins of the Hell Hounds has since been lost in the mists of time but the stories probably originated from the Viking raiders hound of their god Odin and the Celtic legends of Arawn whose hounds of hell searched for human souls.

There are many tales of a phantom hound in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Known locally as black shuck in Cambridge, its favourite haunts where said to be along the banks of the river Ouse and amongst the flat landscape of the fens. Other local names have been galley trot, old snarleyow, or old scarfe.

There are not many recent reports of sightings of the creature but there is an interesting parallel to the recent big cat sightings. The creatures where said to normally be black, the size of a very large dog or as big as a small calf. They were reported as having large saucer shaped eyes of red or yellow. In some instances they have been reported as being headless or having just one large Cyclops type eye. To see or even hear the phantom hound was a foreboding of misfortune, madness or death.

It is reported that the late Conan Doyle based his story, the hound of the Baskervilles after hearing accounts of the Cromer black shuck legends.

There is little evidence of Black Shuck causing anyone any direct psychical damage on contact but there is an intriguing account of an attack back in 1577 in the parish of Bungay, Suffolk, the parishioners were at church when it is said a violent storm broke out. The sky darkened and the church is said to have quaked when from out of no where appeared black shuck in the midst of the congregation. It ran through the church causing fear and panic among the parishioners. Two people kneeling in prayer at the time were killed instantly as the dog passed between them. A third man is said to have shrivelled up severely burned. Several miles away at around the same time in Blythburgh another black dog reputedly appeared in the church and struck three people dead and left scorch marks on the church door.

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