Harakiri: demonic hellhound

Do canine remains belong to the legendary Hell Hound of Suffolk?

shareThis

Archaeologists discovered the skeleton of a massive dog that would have stood 7 feet tall on its hind legs, in the ruins of Leiston Abbey in Suffolk, England, according to a recent report in The Express.  The remains are near where an ancient legend spoke of a hellhound called Black Shuck, said to have flaming red eyes and a rugged black coat, who terrorized villagers.

The name Shuck derives from the Old English word scucca meaning ‘demon’. He is one of many ghostly black dogs recorded across the British Isles.  Its alleged appearance during a storm on 4th August, 1577 at the Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, is a particularly famous account of the beast, in which legend says that thunder caused the doors of the church to burst open and the snarling dog crashed in and ran through the congregation, killing a man and a boy, before it fled when the steeple collapsed. The encounter on the same day at St Mary's Church, Bungay was described in ‘A Straunge and Terrible Wunder’ by the Reverend Abraham Fleming in 1577:

This black dog, or the devil in such a likeness (God he knoweth all who worketh all,) running all along down the body of the church with great swiftness, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible form and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling upon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them both at one instant clean backward, in so much that even at a moment where they kneeled, they strangely died.

Brendon Wilkins, projects director of archaeological group Dig Ventures, said: “Most of these legends about dogs may have some roots in reality.” 

The remains of the massive dog, which is estimated to have weighed 200 pounds, were found just a few miles from the two churches where Black Shuck killed the worshippers. It appears to have been buried in a shallow grave at precisely the same time as Shuck is said to have been on the loose, primarily around Suffolk and the East Anglia region.

The remains of the huge dog found in Leiston Abbey

The remains of the huge dog found in Leiston Abbey, Suffolk. Photo credit: East Anglia News Service

Radio carbon dating tests will be carried out to give an exact age for the bones, which will either serve to enhance the hell hound stories, or support the far less exciting theory that it is an abbot’s old hunting dog.  Regardless of the outcome, it is unlikely to change the iconography of the local area, which relies on stories of Black Shuck to attract curious visitors.

Featured image: Harakiri: demonic hellhound. Image credit: WhiteSpiritWolf

By April Holloway

Comments

I recently watched a special in which it was said that the Black Shuck legend was the basis for Doyle's "Hound of the Baskervilles".  Doyle had dinner with a member of the Cabell family, the ancestor of which was said to have inspired the legend. The legend stated that the dog belonged to the wife of Richard Cabell, who viciously attacked and murdered his wife in a fit of jealous rage. The hound turned on Cabell and tore out his throat. 

It is somewhat interesting to note, that the name "Baskerville" was the name of the coach driver who transported Conan-Doyle to and from the dinner.

Leonard G. Whitney Jr.

Has there been any more information about this demon dog yet x

hope more info on these remains come available, but could it just be a large dog breed, like Irish Wolfhounds - they can get 7 feet tall on back legs and aroung 100 kgs???

I agree. Irish Wolfhounds are astonishingly large dogs, especially when encountered standing on hind legs with head, shoulders and forepaws casually draped over a six foot fence.

It would be very nice to have updates on this story, especially if genetic information becomes available that might help determine breed.

Jefraize

Justbod's picture

Very fascinating! It's great when a discovery seems to fit with a legend/folklore and the 'black dog' stories are very pervasive within our culture and psychology (the 'black dog' of depression. )
Also enjoyed Len Whitney's comment on the connection to the Hound of the Baskervilles' - thank you!

Celtic, Viking & Mythical sculptures, carvings & artwork: www.justbod.co.uk

Justbod Blog: www.justbod.blogspot.co.uk/

 

This article was really awesome!

I thought it was pretty awesome

If it "appears to have been buried", it must have had an owner. Maybe this is just one of them local big dogs.

There could have been ritual reasons for the burial, or maybe the corpse was already dead when i was found.

That the grave was shallow implies to me that it may not have been necessarily had an owner because a shallow grave would make it more likely that predators (if there were any in the region) and carrion feeders would discover it.

I would think that one prepares a shallow grave because there's lack of connection to the dead, not more.

HA! This is where im from! :D :D

Interesting to know is that there are massive claw marks going down the church door from when the dog attacked.
The most popular "tale" is that he was aboard a ship of the coast (its super close) when they got shipwrecked. Shuck managed to get onto a rock outcrop with his owner but he was the only one to survive. Then because he wouldnt leave the rock, even after the storm had passed, he starved to death.
After this it gets a bit murky as to why he came back as a demon dog, but the beggining is mostly the same.

The Darkness - Black Shuck
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jeRY-jxKuqA

These guys are from round the corner ^^

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Ancient Technology

Acharya Kanad
John Dalton (1766 – 1844), an English chemist and physicist, is the man credited today with the development of atomic theory. However, a theory of atoms was actually formulated2,500 years before...

Ancient Places

Opinion

Reconstruction of the Sumerian city of Ur
Graham Hancock, in his famous work “The Fingerprints of The Gods” argues that certain civilizations around the globe showed these signs of unusual intelligence in their architecture, science and...

Our Mission

Ancient Origins seeks to uncover, what we believe, is one of the most important pieces of knowledge we can acquire as human beings – our beginnings.

While many believe that we already hold such knowledge, our view is that there still exists a multitude of anomalies and mysteries in humanity's past that deserve further examination.

We therefore wish to foster an open community that is dedicated to investigating, understanding and explaining the origins of our species on planet earth. To this end, we aim to organize, support and even finance efforts in this direction.

Our aim is to move beyond theories and to present a thorough examination of current research and evidence and to offer alternative viewpoints and explanations to those currently held by mainstream science and archaeology.

Come with us on a journey to explore lost civilisations, sacred writings, ancient places, unexplained artefacts and scientific mysteries while we seek to reconstruct and retell the story of our beginnings.

Ancient Image Galleries

Vessel in the form of a man on a reed raft
Administrative tablet showing the early development of cuneiform writing
The Great Pyramids