How often are legends validated by archaeological finds? Not frequently, but when it happens, everyone starts believing to some extent.
500 years ago, the British Isles were terrorized by hellish black dogs. One of the more famous dogs being “Black Shuck,” a giant hellhound with burning red eyes and a matching attitude. An ancient legend tells that on the night of August 4, 1577, as a storm was raging in Blythburg, Suffolk, villagers took shelter inside the Holy Trinity Church.
Suddenly, a thunder burst open the doors and the monstrous dog barged in, snarling and growling. It set its bloodshot eyes upon a man and a boy, whom he killed before fleeing the church when the steeple collapsed.
The account is described in Reverend Abraham Fleming’s book ‘A Straunge and Terrible Wunder:‘
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.”
Blythburgh residents say his claw marks still adorn the church door. And according to some, the legend of Black Shuck was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles.’
Last year, archaeologists who were excavating the ruins of Leiston Abbey in Suffolk, England uncovered the remains of a giant dog that once stood 7 feet tall on its hind legs. A veterinarian was called to the dig and estimated the mammoth dog weighed approximately 200 pounds when it lived. Could this skeleton have belonged to Black Shuck, the demon canine? And why was it buried on holy grounds—was it ritualistic?
Radiocarbon dating will show us this dogs lifespan, and if the time frame is correct the legend gets a reality boost.. But no matter what, the tale of the Black Shuck will surely persist.