The Green Children of Woolpit

The Green Children of Woolpit: the 12th century legend of visitors from another world

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With regards to the description of the strange land, Paul Harris suggested in Fortean Studies 4 (1998) that the children were Flemish orphans, possibly from a nearby place known as Fornham St. Martin, which was separated from Woolpit by the River Lark. A lot of Flemish immigrants had arrived during the 12 th century but were persecuted under the reign of King Henry II. In 1173, many were killed near Bury St Edmunds. If they had fled into Thetford Forest, it may have seemed like permanent twilight to the frightened children. They may also have entered one of the many underground mine passages in the area, which finally led them to Woolpit. Dressed in strange Flemish clothes and speaking another language, the children would have presented a very strange spectacle to the Woolpit villagers.

Other commentators have suggested a more ‘other-worldly’ origin for the children. Robert Burton suggested in his 1621 book ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ that the green children "fell from Heaven", leading others to speculate that the children may have been extraterrestrials. In a 1996 article published in the magazine Analog, astronomer Duncan Lunan hypothesised that the children were accidentally transported to Woolpit from their home planet, which may be trapped in synchronous orbit around its sun, presenting the conditions for life only in a narrow twilight zone between a fiercely hot surface and a frozen dark side.

The story of the green children has endured for over eight centuries since the first recorded accounts. While the real facts behind the story may never be known, it has provided the inspiration for numerous poems, novels, operas, and plays across the world, and continues to capture the imagination of many curious minds.

Featured image: A village sign in Woolpit, England, depicting the two green children of the 12 th century legend ( Wikimedia)

References

Clark, J. (2006). “ Small, vulnerable ETs”: The Green  Children of Woolpit . Science Fiction Studies, Vol 33 (2), pp 209 – 229.

The Green Children of Woolpit – Mysterious Britain and Ireland. Available from: http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/england/suffolk/folklore/the-green-children-of-woolpit.html

The Wild Kids of Woolpit – Mysterious Universe. Available from: http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2013/11/the-wild-kids-of-woolpit/

The Green Children of Woolpit – Myths and Legends. Available from: http://myths.e2bn.org/mythsandlegends/origins24-the-green-children-of-woolpit.html

The Green Children of Woolpit by Brian Haughton. Available from: http://brian-haughton.com/ancient-mysteries-articles/green-children-of-woolpit/

By April Holloway

Comments

DeAegean's picture

There are so many questions to be asked here.. We can only hope an event like this occurs again sometime during our lives so we can experience the mystery.

Justbod's picture

Fascinating story. As Deaegean writes, we can only speculate unless something happens in our time. Very interesting though. Thanks for the article - I'd never heard the story before.

Sculptures, carvings & artwork inspired by a love of history & nature: www.justbod.co.uk

 

 

 

Hey did anyone read Game of Thrones? There are a green, otherworldly brother and sister pair in it...This must be where the idea came from.

I thought the same thing

I guess those who think that this story originates from 'game of thrones' are just foetuses in that they have grown up only in the new (3rd millennium) when they had internet and hundreds of television channels, game consoles, video games and numerous other things to warp their minds; since those of us who were born and grew up in the last 2nd millennium) had little to nothing what children these days do.

The story is so much older than 'game of thrones', I can assure you, since I can count on both hands the volumes of books I read growing up about the story of the Wolpitt 'green children'.

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