Hoofprints of the Devil Spotted in the Snow?
Witnesses Reverend J.J. Rowe and R.H. Busk tell of how they followed the tracks with hounds. R.H. Busk said, “At last, in a wood, the hounds came back baying and terrified.” Rowe said: “The episode of the hounds … I well and distinctly remember.”Another man who followed the prints found a toad at the end of them, though it’s uncertain that a toad did or could make such marks.
The prints were found in two other regions that same winter.
Other Sightings of the ‘Devil’s Hoofprints’
In March 1855, they were sighted in Inverness, Scotland, where a local naturalist dismissed them as hare or polecat prints, according to an Inverness Courier report from that time.
In January 1855, near Wolverhampton, England, about 200 miles north of Devon, hoofprints were said to have appeared on vertical walls and the roofs of pubs. According to Dash, Elizabeth Brown, landlady of The Lion pub in this region, told a public meeting that “her house was mainly frequented by quarrymen and the tracks were nothing new to them. Similar hoofmarks were to be seen burnt into the rock at Pearl Quarry, on Timmins Hill.”
This brings us back to the reports that the footprints seemed to have been branded into the snow.
Similar descriptions have been given in other cases. In the Spring 1957 edition of Tomorrow, a Quarterly Review of Psychical Research, anthropologist and psychical researcher Eric Dingwall reported one such case. A business man named Mr. Wilson found perplexing prints on a Devon beach in 1950. They appeared to be hoofmarks, though not cloven. The stride from one to the next was some six feet—a stark contrast to the small stride of the 1855 Devon prints which were only 8–12 inches apart—and he noticed, Dingwall wrote, “that no sand was splashed up at the edges: it looked as if each mark had been cut out of the sand with a flat iron.”
Dingwall continued: “He had realized how totally inexplicable they were. For here was a biped with a track shaped like a hoof, starting immediately beneath a perpendicular cliff on a closed beach and ending in the sea. There was no returning track.” Dingwall asked Wilson if it’s possible that the animal, or whatever may have made the marks, turned right or left in the sea and returned to land elsewhere. “But Mr. Wilson produced photographs which showed that the beach was a comparatively narrow space completely enclosed by rocky headlands on either side.”
In the winter of 1957, Lynda Hanson observed hoofmarks in her parents’ garden. In a letter to Fortean Times editor Bob Rickard, she wrote that it had snowed about an inch overnight and in the morning she saw them, “shaped as a cloven hoof, 4 inches across, approximately 12 inches apart, in a straight line and stopping in the middle of the garden.”
She said dry concrete could be seen where the prints were, unlike with normal animal or human prints, which leave compressed snow.
In 2009, retired local government official Jill Wade of North Devon awoke to find prints in her yard, about 5 inches long, with a stride of 11–17 inches. She called in experts to investigate. Zoologist Graham Inglis told the Telegraph : “This is certainly a first for me. The footprints are peculiar, but they are not the devil’s … Personally I think it belongs to a rabbit or hare but quite an academic punch-up has started over it.”
Other explanations for the Devon prints—including an escaped kangaroo, a chain hanging from a weather balloon, and more—have been brought up and dismissed or deemed unlikely from various angles. As unlikely as the explanations may seem, it’s hard to prove or disprove any of them with certainty. Something unusual occurred in Devon, England, on the night of Feb. 8, 1855.
Featured image: Gustave Doré, illustration to Paradise Lost, book IX, 179–187, depicts the Devil with hooved feet ( Wikimedia Commons )
The article ‘ Devil’s Hoofprints Spotted in the Snow? ’ was originally published on The Epoch Times and has been republished with permission.