The British Isles are considered one of the most haunted places on earth. It is not entirely clear why this is where the most reports about ghosts, apparitions and other unexplained phenomena come from. However, it is known that some things are really happening and that the black dog is one of them.
Origin and general characteristics
Although it has been reported to come from many regions of the world, it has most in common with the British Isles. It usually appears under cover of the night, and the very figure of the terrifying dog is associated with the devil or Hellhound. It manifests itself to selected people, most often preaching their death, although sometimes it brings help.
Its size is much larger than that of an ordinary dog and it also has characteristic large red eyes. It can appear during a storm, at the crossroads as a symbolic place “between the worlds”, places of execution or ancient routes. It also seems that it is attracted by churches.
It is unknown when the black dog first appeared in English folklore. Some people say that it comes from Celtic or German mythology, which is part of British culture. In every European mythology, on the other hand, this dog was closely associated with death. The most famous demonic dogs were the Welsh Cwn Annwn (“hounds from Annwn”), the Nordic Garm / Norse Garmr and, of course, the Greco-Roman Cerberus. Each of them was somehow a guardian of the underworld. It is most likely that the guard dog is closely linked to the scavenging behavior of dogs. In addition, black coatings are considered as signs of hostility and danger.
Most black dogs disappear from the eyes of the observer or escape from the field of vision. Depending on the relationship, the nightmare is “swallowed up” by the ground, disappearing like a flash of light or as a result of a mini-explosion. Some witnesses say that the animal was walking on its back feet. Sometimes it is silent, sometimes only claws can be heard. Several people talk about barking, howling and growling, and it is rare for a black dog to laugh or speak with a human voice, although it may be accompanied by the sound of chains.
Black Shuck – the most famous black dog
The favorite place for the appearance of Black Shuck is the East coast of England. It is associated the most with the folklore of Norfolk, Suffolk, the Fens (the geographic region that covered the wetlands in the past) and Essex.
The name Shuck may come from the Old English word scucca – “devil, fiend”, from the root word skuh– to terrify. This cryptid is considered an omen of death, or the opposite – the personification of help.
The most famous event associated with Black Shuck was to be the appearance of it in 1577 in Bungay and Blythburgh, and its images became part of the iconography of the region.
For centuries, the inhabitants of England were telling the story of a big, black dog and its larges as saucers, bad, red or green eyes, depending on the version. The size is equally amazing, it can be the size of a large dog, as well as a calf, or even… a horse. Some people saw him floating on the misty carpet and headless. It visits mainly the English coast, cemeteries, crossroads, waters and dark forests.
Other legends, especially those from Essex, say that the appearance of Black the immediate death of the person it revealed. Sometimes a member of the observer’s family dies after the dog’s disappearance or he is seriously ill.
There is, however, news that a black dog from eastern England is a relatively mild animal that accompanies women on their way home like a guardian. A large black dog also helps to find the lost way. The largest number of reports about friendly dog ghosts comes from the late 19th century and the entire 20th century.
Visitation of Bungay and Blythburgh
The most imaginative is the story of Black Shuck appearing in churches in Bungay and Blythburg (Suffolk). At the beginning of August 1577, a black dog fell through the door of the Holy Trinity Church together with a thunder. Not paying attention to a large number of people, it ran up to the nave. The man and boy who passed away died as a result of a twisting of their neck, and then caused the collapse of the church tower, which collapsed the roof of the church.
When it ran out, left scorch marks on the north door, which can be seen at the church to this day, and by the locals called “the devil’s fingerprints”. On the same day (August 4th), omen appeared in St. Mary’s Church in Bungay.
Cwn Annwn – the spectral hounds of Annwn
The name sounds complicated, but it means “Annwn hounds”. The word “Annwn” referred to the underworld of Welsh myths. Dogs-spirits were closely related to the mythical Wild Hunt, which ended on the Mount Cadair Idris, and anyone who heard the powerful hounds howling from there waited for a quick death. According to Welsh folklore, their growl is the loudest from a distance, but when they approach their voice becomes more and more delicate. If someone will be given not only to hear them but also to see them, he should also expect death.
In Wales, they were associated with migrating geese, presumably because the night sounds of these birds resemble the barking of dogs.
The owner of the hounds from Annwn was King Arawn – the ruler of the underworld, who hunted in the company of his pets for creatures of the world. The history of demonic dogs was borrowed by Christians, calling them The Hounds / Dogs of Hell – as the name suggests – owned by Satan. Even so, the Welsh Annwn had nothing to do with paradise or hell. In addition to King Arawn, Annwn dogs are considered to be companions of the terrible witch named Mallt-y-Nos “Matilda of the Night”. An alternative name in Welsh folklore is Cŵn Mamau (“Hounds of the Mothers”).
Like Black Shuck, Annwn dogs are associated with death, as evidenced by red ears (the Celts identified red with death). The white coat, on the other hand, reflects the supernatural forces, so white animals are usually owned by the gods or other inhabitants of the Underground. Consequently, Cwn Annwn are supernatural death dogs. There is a reason why they are therefore an “escort” of the soul passing between the worlds.