Monday, 3 April 2017

B is for ... Black Shuck

Good old Black Shuck!
He's a demon dog that's close to my heart *sigh*

We both hail from the area of East Anglia in the UK and I grew up hearing his stories.
He's a bit of a celebrity around here. 
A terrifying, demon celebrity. 

If you didn't grow up with Black Shuck like I did, then you might not know too much about this scary, phantom hound.

Black Shuck was said to terrorise the area of East Anglia in the 16th Century.
He is described as a HUGE, black, ghostly dog with a single, firey eye in the middle of his head. His howl is said to make the hearers blood run cold, yet his footsteps make no sound at all. He is said to be an omen of death and you should squeeze your eyes tight shut if you think he might be close.

In a pamphlet from 1577 a terrorfying attack by Black Shuck is described as happening at St Mary's Church in Bungay:
"This black dog, or the devil in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) running all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a mome[n]t where they kneeled, they stra[n]gely dyed."

A similar attack also is said to have happened in Suffolk and there are even burn marks left on the church door that were apparently made by Black Shuck as he made his exit.

Burn marks made by Black Shuck on a church door in Suffolk.
 The word 'Shuck' is thought to come from an old English word meaning 'demon' - scucca.
Or possibly an old local dialect word that meant 'shaggy' or 'hairy' - shucky

More recently in East Anglia, the bones of a very large dog were discovered in the ruins of an Abbey. This Abbey is only a few miles away from where the Black Shuck attacks were said to have taken place!

The remains of a large dog found in the ruins of Leiston Abbey, Suffolk.

The skeleton that was uncovered is thought to belong to a male dog who would have stood at 7 foot tall on his hind legs, and weighed in at 200lb!
What a monster!
Pottery fragments found alongside the skeleton date from the time of Black Shuck's alleged rein.

Do we need more proof that Black Shuck is real?

Books featuring Black Shuck:


  1. The Old English seems to add to the aura, don't you think? I bet the people of that time were totally in thrall of this creature. Whether it was real or not, would have no impact on their fear.

    Cynthia at Boketto and Bohni: Exotic Words with no English Equivalent

    1. You still heard stories about people seeing him even today!
      Norfolk is full of tales about people seeing large, black animals stalking the countryside.
      Even my own grandparents swear they've seen him when they were driving home late one night. They say a huge black creature jumped into the road in front of their car and bounded straight over the hedge on the other side in one leap!

      Scary stuff!

  2. I'm convinced, although shuck sounds too much like schmuck for me to be truly terrified.

    1. Ah, I don't think we really use the word 'schmuck' here in the UK. At least, I never hear it where I'm from.
      They may have been less scared back then if they did use it!

  3. Never heard of Black Shuck but a 7 foot dog does sound like a monster! Isn't that bigger than a Great Dane?!

    *Visiting from A-Z*

    1. It's HUGE isn't it?! I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark, lonely road!

  4. That is a huge dog skeleton! I'm with you ... existence proved ;)
    Black dogs of death seem to be a thing all over the country, or big black cats. Wonder is someone had a secret big black pet breeding empire? ;)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

    1. He's definitely real.

      We're still getting spottings of Shuck around Norfolk, even now. And black cats too, you're right!
      My own grandparents swear they saw a huge black creature when they were driving home late one night. They say it jumped into the road in front of their car and bounded straight over the hedge on the other side in one leap!

  5. PUPPER!
    I love large dogs. Probably not the kind that wrings your neck, though...

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

    1. I think I might give that kind a bit of a wide berth...

  6. Your Black Shuck very much reminds me of Harry Potter's Grim - both black dogs that bear ill omens. Interesting folklore!

    B is for Baking

    1. There are many tales of huge black dogs bearing ill omens and death, so I'm not surprised that JK Rowling was inspired!

  7. I'm thankful we don't have any of those in East Sussex! Stay safe Jodie!

    Today in Amble Bay!

    1. I'll make sure I stay alert for any huge black dogs when I'm walking alone in the countryside!

  8. I've been researching Welsh mythology a bit for one of my future books, and I'd love to include a black ghost dog. Love the fiery cyclops eye on this one.

    1. Shuck would be a great addition to any book!

  9. soooo fascinating. i wonder if it's a version of the Cu Sith. or it has it's own provenance. excellent B day. loved it.

  10. This is a very fascinating story. Shuck's firey eye in the middle of his head would be enough to terrify anyone!!

  11. I've read several stories over the years involving this creature. In some areas, he's just known as a Grim (think Ron's reaction to Sirius' Animagus form in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban---the book goes into way more detail than the movie about what a Grim is. The Patrick Swayze movie "Black Dog" kind of touched on this as well. Looking forward to tomorrow's entry!

    Here's my take on today:


  12. CREEPY! What a great piece of folklore! :D

  13. What a great tale. I too made the Harry Potter "Grim" connection, and now I'm picturing that one monsterous red eye peering at Harry through the bushes instead of Padfoot's! Creepy!!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | AtoZ 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms

  14. Quite an incredible story. But why not? The skeleton (or rather, the huge dog) might really be how the stories began.

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  15. This is a legend with which I was completely unfamiliar. Thank you for sharing!

    Sharon E. Cathcart
    Award-winning Author of Fiction Featuring Atypical Characters

  16. Okay, I am officially creeped out! This would make a great story to tell around a campfire.

    Trudy @ Reel Focus
    Food in Film: Butter

  17. The one eye is enough to scare me off!
    I am a little wimp when it comes to scary things.

    Good post!

  18. Very fascinating. I love hearing old myths, they are so interesting. I have never heard of Black Shuck, but he certainly does sound scary. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    B for Black Widow


  19. Interesting! But at least apparently now we're safe!
    Alphabet of Printmakers