Clarissa Johal: #FolkloreThursday - Black Shuck

Friday, March 28, 2014

#FolkloreThursday - Black Shuck

*Public Domain Photo
Black Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia. The name "shuck" comes from the Old English word scucca meaning "demon," or possibly from the local dialect word shucky meaning "shaggy" or "hairy." For centuries, inhabitants of England have told tales of a large black dog that roams graveyards, side roads, crossroads, bodies of water and dark forests. It is reported to have red or green flaming eyes and varies in size - ranging from a large dog to that of a calf or horse. Black Shuck have also been recorded as being headless or floating on a carpet of mist. According to some legends, the dog's appearance bodes an almost immediate death or illness for the observer or a close relative. Other legends say that the Black Shuck accompany women or lost travelers on their way home as a protector.

One of the most famous reports of the Black Shuck is its appearance at St. Mary's church in Bungay and the Holy Trinity church in Blythburgh, Suffolk, England. On August 4, 1577, St. Mary's Church was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. It was reported that a Black Shuck suddenly appeared, attacked members of the congregation, and then disappeared. Re-appearing in the Holy Trinity Church, it burst through the church doors, ran past a large congregation and killed a man and boy. Then, it caused the church steeple to collapse through the roof. The dog left scorch marks on the north door which can be seen at the church to this day. Some claim these scorch marks are "the devil's fingerprints," while others say they're the result of lightning. Images of black sinister dogs have become part of the iconography of the area.

What is the Black Shuck? The result of superstition and hysteria? A wild animal in the wrong place at the wrong time? Regardless, it is an interesting tale.

*Title page of Rev. Abraham Fleming's account of the appearance of the ghostly black dog "Black Shuck" at the church of Bungay, Suffolk: "A straunge, and terrible wunder wrought very late in the parish church of Bongay: a town of no great distance from the citie of Norwich, namely the fourth of this August, in ye yeere of our Lord 1577".


Heather R. Holden said...

Don't think I've ever heard of the Black Shuck before, although I have read folklore about black dogs in general. Creepy!

Clarissa Johal, Author said...

It's a bit of an odd tale (or tail, haha) for sure. Thanks for stopping by, Heather!